Bird Watching Cruise Report – July 5th, 2014

Our third bird cruise of the season was to go and see the Tufted Puffins on Smith Island. Smith Island is a 15 acre rocky island that is slowly eroding away because it is in the middle of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In the winter, the winds and waves can come in from the open Pacific Ocean. A 100 years ago, Smith Island was 100 acres. It is used by the US Coast Guard, with various equipment and navigational aids. It used to have a lighthouse, but that long ago fell off its bluff and into the ocean. No one lives on the island anymore. Smith Island has the only nesting colony left in the San Juan Islands for the elusive Tufted Puffin. Occasional sightings are known of this bird there in the summer, so we set out to see if they might be there. To our surprise we had seven puffins that we sighted. On the island were numerous eagles and nesting pair up in a tower. There were also harbor seals with their pups, one of which was nursing. There were numerous Rhinoceros Auklets in the area in their full breeding plumage. On the way home we heard that our resident J pod Orcas were in the area (killer whales). So we had an great time watching them slowly swim in a resting mode.

Special thanks to Jim Bachman, who took all of the great photos above.

Our next bird cruise will be on Saturday August 2nd.

Our species list follows:


Canadian Goose

Harlequin Ducks

Surf Scoter

Western Grebe

Double Crested Cormorant

Pelagic Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Turkey Vulture

Bald Eagle

Black Oystercatcher

Heerman’s Gull

California Gull

Glaucous Winged Gull

Common Murre

Pigeon Guillemot

Marbled Murrelet

Rhinoceros Auklet

Tufted Puffin

Rock Pigeon

Belted Kingfisher

American/Northwest Crow


Violet Green Swallow