For any use of my photos, please contact me at monika.wieland (at) gmail (dot) com

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day Whales and Birds

It's a beautiful spring weekend here on San Juan Island. Yesterday we participated in the Great Island Clean-Up, picking up trash off a local beach, and then attended a community fundraiser for new sports fields. This morning the plan was to watch playoff hockey, but an alert from a friend about resident whales on the westside changed things in a hurry.

I just missed the whales at Land Bank, but while scanning for them I saw my first barn swallows (166) of the year. Someone told me the whales were slowly heading north so I went up to the San Juan County Park. Sure enough, just moments after I got there, J and K Pods started slowly passing by in several big resting groups.

They were pretty far offshore, but that was all right. In the flat calm waters it was easy to see them and the sounds of their breathing carried clearly across to where I was sitting on the bank. It's always fun to start seeing the whales again in the spring - I refresh my ID skills, and see how the whales have grown and changed over the winter. I didn't get tons of IDs since they were a ways out, but I did see members from the K12s, K13s, K21 and K40, and from every family group in J-Pod. Here's J28 Polaris and her two-and-a-half year-old calf J46 Star. They were in a little bit closer to shore and foraging while most of the other whales were resting.

I watched the whales lazily swim north for almost an hour and a half, and while sitting there was able to do some bird-watching too, seeing or hearing 19 species in that time. The most surprising was a sora (167), which has an unmistakable call, but I'm not sure where exactly it was hanging out as it was not it's preferred habitat! There were also two fishing bald eagles, some very chatty black oystercathers, and several pelagic cormorants in breeding plumage with the white flank patch:

It was a beautiful way to spend Earth Day morning!

No comments: