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Friday, August 28, 2009

K-Pod off False Bay and Red-necked Phalaropes

Yesterday was sunny and warm, but today it felt much more like fall - overcast and chilly. As we headed down San Juan Channel aboard the Western Prince there were lots of birds to check out: a pair of bald eagles up in a tree, a great blue heron perched on a kelp bed, and on Goose Island double-crested cormorants, pelagic cormorants, glaucous-winged gulls, and Heermann's gulls.

Reports were that all three pods were in the area, but they were very spread out in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We met up with K-Pod as they were headed back towards False Bay on San Juan Island. The first group of whales we came across included brother K21 Cappuccino (right) and sister K40 Raggedy (left):

They were traveling with two other whales and it took me a little bit to determine it was K16 Opus and her seven year-old son K35 Sonata. Here is Sonata surfacing behind Raggedy. You can see better in this photo the nicks along her dorsal fin that are her namesake:

Over the rest of the afternoon we saw most of the K-Pod family groups. One of the last groups we looked at included K14 Lea and her one-year-old calf K42, who is going to be named at the end of this month. You have until August 31st to get your vote in for what to name the baby.

There were some other bird watchers on board who were just as excited as I was to get a nice look at some red-necked phalaropes. There have been lots of small flocks flying around over the last few weeks as they pass through on their fall migration, but today was the first time I've had a chance to snap some photos of a few of them on the surface of the water. They're really cool birds that spin around on the surface of the water to create their own little upwelling to bring nutrients up to within reach, then they grab little organic particles out of the water to eat. You can see they're already decked out in winter plumage, another sure sign that fall is just around the corner:


julie said...

i saw some of my first "fall" migrant phalaropes here last week... they are one of my favorites, next to the pigeon guillemots...

anyway, just a reminder that i'll be in campsite 12 from sept 1-4 and campsite 7 from sept 5-8. come! kayak, while we still can! hope to see you... i'll email my phone number. diane gardetto will be there and katherine should be about as well!

Lancs and Lakes Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Hi Monika. We got a Wilson's Phal just over the river - double rare inland here. If it stays until Tuesday I might just get a chance to twitch it.


PS will be putting a name forward for the calf.

Warren Baker said...

Love those Phalaropes, a real scarce bird over here.

Monika said...

Julie - I love watching phalaropes too, even if they are a reminder fall is just around the corner. I'll do my best to stop by sometime this week!

Dave - I haven't seen a Wilson's phalarope myself, bad it sounds like you didn't get a chance to twitch it either!

Warren - I feel lucky to live in a place where they're (briefly) fairly common!