First, a note, since I've been terrible at posting updates about my year list here! These are the species I've added since our Yellow Island trip a month ago, the last time I reported my total on the blog: Cassin's vireo, Townsend's warbler, house wren, American goldfinch, band-tailed pigeon, black-capped chickadee (can you believe this one slipped all the way to #160?! I can't - it was in the first ten species I saw every year until this one!), Wilson's warbler, sora, northern rough-winged swallow, Pacific-slope flycatcher, Bonaparte's gull, Eurasian collared-dove, brown-headed cowbird, and black-throated gray warbler. That puts me at 168 for the moment, and I'll do better about posting updates from now on!
Now, last weekend we had some friends in town and we went out whale-watching with Jim Maya. On our way there we stopped at the local alpaca farm, and I just had to share a couple photos of these guys first:
As we left the dock in Snug Harbor, we had a report of a single whale way up north! It was a long trip, but the water conditions couldn't have been better - it was beautiful!
It's fairly unusual to see just one orca, even a transient - the only time this generally happens is if its a lone bull. I guess this guy qualifies - he is 22 years old, though his fin is fairly short and looks more like that of a teenager. He also hasn't been seen on his own very often that I know of. When we got on scene in southern Georgia Strait, there he was: T124C.
He seems to be kind of an odd whale all around, not just size-wise. The last time I saw him was in May 2010, and he was traveling with CA058 - a California transient never before seen this far north! Here's a throwback image from that encounter - has he grown since then? I guess a little!
|T124C in Haro Strait in May 2010.|
Amazingly, we were the only boat on scene with him this time. One boat, one whale, and these amazing glassy calm waters that provided stunning reflections with every surfacing.
The scenery was amazing in every direction, too:
We ended up following T124C far enough north that when it was time to head home, we came back through Active Pass. I had only been through the pass a couple of times before, and now twice already this year! It's such a beautiful spot, especially in the late afternoon lighting as we went from east to west. Here's a shot of the Active Pass Lighthouse on Georgina Point on Mayne Island:
The colors in the pass were just amazing!
It's been interesting to see how transient sightings have continued with regularity while our Southern Residents have been conspicuous only by their absence. See my last blog post for a little more info on that - it turns out J-Pod came in for just about 24 hours before leaving again!