Bird Watching Cruise Report – June 7th and 8th, 2014

We had bird cruises this month on both Saturday and Sunday. Our Saturday trip was full, so we added a Sunday Cruise. On both days our trips were similar with bird sightings and our route remained identical. We traveled across Bellingham Bay and then turned north into Hale Passage between Lummi Island and the Lummi Nation Reservation. Our destination was for Sucia Island. Sucia is a beautiful state park full of Madrona trees and numerous Pigeon Guillemots. On the way out we observed many harbor porpoise. These are one of the smallest cetaceans in the world and are found in all the temperate northern waters of the world. They travel in small pods, and at this time of year mothers can be seen with their small calves.

Our winter resident birds have all traveled north now, but there were still a couple of surf scoters seen and a common loon was spotted. When we arrived at Sucia, we tied up to a mooring buoy in Echo Bay and turned the engines off to have a wonderful lasagna lunch. The sun was shining and we wanted to have a chance to hear any song birds that might be in the vicinity. We were rewarded with the sweet sounds of a white crowned sparrow and some wrens. We easily saw 100+ Pigeon Guillemots in the bay, and many harbor seals swimming about and hauled out on the rocky shores warming themselves.

After lunch, we headed up to Patos Island. It is another state park and has a beautiful lighthouse on its western point. On Sunday we were rewarded with a sighting of river otters on the east side of Sucia. Contrary to their name, they use marine waters for foraging and create dens along the rocky shores of the islands.

Our trip home we came down the west side of Lummi Island. On Saturday, along the shores of the island there was some kind of deceased marine mammal in the water next to the shoreline. Here we stopped and looked at 13 Bald Eagles taking their turns feeding on the mammal. The mature eagles were chasing off the juveniles who had fledged last year or the year before and were clearly the dominant ones. We also found an eagle’s nest up in the trees.

We cruised through Chuckanut Bay and saw the beautiful Harlequin Ducks, as well as many nesting Pelagic Cormorants and Pigeon Guillemots.

Our species list follows. The exception is that we saw the Common Loon on Sunday and not Saturday. We also did not get to see the Green Heron on Sunday. It is usually spotted at our dock, as there is a nesting pair behind the wastewater treatment plant a little inland from our pier.

Next month we will be travelling to Smith Island, one of the only places left in the San Juan Islands where Tufted Puffins nest.

Canada Goose (with their goslings)
Harlequin Duck
Surf Scoter
Common Loon
Double-Crested Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Red-Tailed Hawk
Black Oystercatcher
Glaucous-Winged Gull
Pigeon Guillemot
Rhinocerous Auklet
Rock Pigeon
Rufous Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
American/Northwest Crow
Violet-Green Swallow
Barn Swallow
American Robin
White Crowned Sparrow