On Friday morning I got on the ferry from Friday Harbor to Sidney, British Columbia on Vancouver Island. The plan was to spend a long weekend in Campbell River, and give myself a chance at seeing the Northern Resident population of killer whales. Despite spending so much of the last decade on San Juan Island, I'd never made it further north on Vancouver Island than Victoria. I finally decided to remedy that this weekend! Although at some point I would love to spend more time further north on the island, this was a good way to start for this summer.
It's a scenic drive from Sidney to Campbell River. After looping around the Saanich Peninsula, there was this amazing viewpoint, with San Juan Island visible in the distance (marked by the arrow):
It's about a four hour drive north to Campbell River, and upon arriving at the hotel I was thrilled to see the view from the deck of our room. I walked straight through the room and out the sliding glass door, binoculars in hand as I soaked in the panoramic view across Discovery Passage to Quadra Island:
Within the first few minutes I spotted five species of gull: Bonaparte's, mew, California, ring-billed, and glaucous-winged. While looking at four of these species perched on a single floating log, my attention was grabbed by something breaking the surface of the water nearby. Porpoises? No, these looked different....they were Pacific white-sided dolphins! This was my first time seeing this species, and along with spotting Northern Residents was one of my high hopes for this trip. Pacific white-sided dolphins are also known as "Lags", a nickname they get from a shortened version of their scientific name, Lagenorhynchus obliquidens. There were about eight of them in this group, and I was thrilled. Surely it was a good omen for the trip!
Later in the evening I was spending some time reading on the deck, when no fewer than 12 common nighthawks flew by. I've never seen that many at once! They flew one way, then came back a little while later going the other direction. While still not close, this is probably the closest I've been to one, too, as often they are very high in the sky:
First thing Saturday morning we headed out on an all-day wildlife watching excursion. Would I see my first Northern Residents? Would I see more Lags? My next post will feature photos from our trip!
|Pulling out from Campbell River to go whale-watching|