Bird Watching Cruise Report – June 15, 2013

Black Oystercatcher With Chick

Our June 15 bird cruise was blessed both with beautiful weather and many interesting encounters.  Four different active Bald Eagle nests and three active Osprey nests along our route hold the promise of wobbly-legged fuzzy young soon to come; for now, it is a treat just to see the impressive adult raptors incubating their eggs and standing guard nearby.  One Osprey flew up to its nest atop a channel marker with a fat sculpin clutched in its talons, which it quickly gulped down.

Some of the Black Oystercatchers’ eggs have already hatched, however, and we were treated to the “awww”-inspiring spectacle of two youngsters at one nest site.  Still too young to wander more than a few feet from the nest, the somewhat awkward babies were fiercely hovered-over by a nervous parent, wary of the intentions of a nearby gull.

Of course, for many on board, the highlight of the trip was the Orcas.  Even though our primary focus for this cruise is birds, we will never pass up a good marine mammal sighting when available.  After receiving reports of a group of Orcas off the west side of Cypress Island, we deviated slightly for our usual route and headed there. There were eight Bigg’s Killer Whales (transients) travelling down Rosario Strait.

Bigg’s Killer Whales are the community of orcas that eat marine mammals, rather than fish like our resident orcas. We came across a group known as the T65As and some of their friends. Up in the lead with its mom was T65A4, a little calf first spotted in April of 2013. We were able to spend some time with them and were afforded some excellent views. What a great bonus!

Pacific Loon: 2

Brand’ts Cormorant: 6

Pelagic Cormorant: 110

Double-crested Cormorant: 45

Canada Goose: 50

Brant: 6

Mallard: 75

Northern Pintail: 4

Gadwall: 2

Harlequin Duck: 6

Surf Scoter: 12

Spotted Sandpiper: 1

Black Oystercatcher: 14 including 2 chicks

Caspian Tern: 130

Glaucous-winged Gull: omnipresent

California Gull: 40

Ring-billed Gull: 3

Turkey Vulture: 4

Marbled Murrelet: 8

Rhinocerous Auklet: hundreds

Pigeon Guillemot: hundreds

Great Blue Heron: 100+

Green Heron: 1

Bald Eagle: 21 incl. 3 nests

Osprey: 3 active nests

Red-tailed Hawk: 3

Rock Pigeon: 30

Mourning Dove: 1

Belted Kingfisher: 5

Rufous Hummingbird: 2

Olive-sided Flycatcher: 1

Barn Swallow: 60

Cliff Swallow: 20

N. Rough-winged Swallow: 2

Violet-green Swallow: 85

Crow Spp.: 20

Marsh Wren: 1

American Robin: 10

Swainson’s Thrush: 1

Common Yellowthroat: 1

Orange-crowned Warbler: 3

Yellow Warbler: 1

Black-headed Grosbeak: 1

Red-winged Blackbird: 3

Brown-headed Cowbird: 5

Oregon Junco: 1

White-crowned Sparrow: many singing

Song Sparrow: many singing

Savvanah Sparrow: 6

House Finch: 3

Pine Siskin: 2

American Goldfinch: 4

House Sparrow: 15

Starling: 25