We set out on Friday to go to Smith Island, the only place in the San Juan Islands that has a nesting colony of tufted puffins. Unfortunately, the weather was too windy to venture out of the protection of the islands. Smith Island is a few miles south of the San Juans in unprotected waters.
Instead we were treated to over an hour of spending time with Bigg’s (formerly known as transient) killer whales. We were able to see a Bigg’s killer whale family known as the T49’s. These killer whales eat marine mammals, and they were actively hunting through the passes between the islands. There were numerous harbor seals on the rocky haul outs with newborn pups, and pregnant females. Harbor porpoise were also observed feeding in the tidal rips.
We made the best of our inner island trip to sight birds, and were well rewarded. We saw numerous pigeon guillemotts and rhinocerous auklets; both of these species are related to the tufted puffins.
Also sighted were:
Bald Eagles and nest
Double crested and Pelagic Cormorants
Great Blue Herons
Glaucous Wing Gulls
(Photos courtesy of Jim Bachman)