We've been getting hit with one storm system after another lately, which is great because we need the precipitation, but it hasn't been conducive to getting outside or on the water! Yesterday were were blessed with a sunny, calm day, and I jumped at the chance to take the boat out after almost a month without being on the water. I went out by myself with camera in hand, and it was so beautiful out!
In my almost two hours out there I spotted 17 marine bird species, including these hooded mergansers on the way out of the harbor:
|Four hooded mergansers|
I went through Mosquito Pass, which is always great for winter birding. Among the hundreds of bufflehead and dozen of red-breasted mergansers and double crested cormorants were about half a dozen pairs of marbled murrelets:
|A pair of marbled murrelets in winter plumage|
Up in Spieden Channel I found three ancient murrelets (that didn't cooperate to have their photo taken) and a flock of about 300 Bonaparte's gulls - my favorite gull species.
Spieden Island is of course always interesting for its exotic wildlife. Usually I expect the most numerous animal to be the Mouflon sheep, but on this day it was the fallow deer! I don't think I've ever seen so many!
|Female fallow deer|
The males are crazy impressive with their moose-like antlers:
|Male fallow deer|
The tide was high enough that there weren't any sea lions hauled out at Green Point, but there were plenty of them in the water! They weren't just hanging out either, they were actively swimming (in pursuit of prey?):
I wasn't surprised to see the Steller sea lions up there:
But I was surprised to see several (at least 3-4) California sea lions right in with them! I only occasionally see California sea lions here, and usually just a single. Unfortunately I bumped my camera settings right before taking this sequence of shots so I didn't get a great snap of the two species swimming together, but this photos till provides the "proof":
|Two California and two Steller sea lions|
On the way back the clouds and sunset were so stunning I had to stop several times to take some more pictures. I'll let the photos do the talking of what it was like out there: