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Sunday, March 20, 2016

J-Pod Visits, Local Bugs and Birds, and a New Look at the San Juans

On March 12, for just the second time this year, I woke up with a strong feeling that orcas would be around. To be fair, the first day I felt this way a few weeks ago no black and whites showed up, but after breakfast while scanning Facebook I saw that a few calls had been faintly heard on the Lime Kiln hydrophones about 15 minutes prior. I tuned in, and after about 10 minutes, I heard a few vocals myself, enough to determine that I was hearing J-Pod. In a flash I was out on the door and we were heading to the west side.

When we got out there we stopped to scan at Land Bank and saw a whole lot of nothing. We kept looking for about half an hour, then decided to go for a short walk before coming back and scanning again. We were just about to head back to town when Jason spotted two dorsal fins! Despite having never seen orcas before, he was an ace spotter, and kept us from just missing the whales. We went down to the rocks at Lime Kiln and, bundled up against the cold, spent two hours watching J-Pod head north.

The first two whales to pass were J16 Slick and J19 Shachi.

J16 Slick
 I lost a bet when one of the leading whales wasn't J2 Granny! But she wasn't far behind (she was third), and closer to shore.

J2 Granny

The biggest highlight was getting to meet the two newest members of J-Pod. Sadly, an encounter by the Center for Whale Research last month found that J55, born to either J14 or J37, hadn't survived. But J53 and J54, who I hadn't met yet, seem to be doing well.

J17 Princess Angeline and J53
J28 Polaris and J54

While some of the whales were way offshore, I did get to identify whales from every matriline to confirm that all of J-Pod was indeed there. And it wasn't just whales going by, either; I had to pause to snap a photo of this handsome pair of harlequin ducks, too.

I've also been carrying the RicohGR around with me in town, which has given me the opportunity to catch some cool macro shots:

And there was also another nice break in the weather which called for another boat trip. In addition to seeing lots of cool birds....

Great blue heron

Long-tailed ducks

Pelagic cormorant

Mew gull

....I was playing with taking Ricoh shots from the water, too. That meant getting an entirely new look at some of the scenery that I've taken countless photos of with the Nikon!

Lime Kiln Lighthouse

Next up, I'm hitting the road again for a month of travel, and will have lots of photos to share. First stop was the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge where the year list got a huge boost, but that post will have to wait as I'm off to Baja for the week to see the gray whales!

1 comment:

jill said...

Wonderful shots! So amazing that Granny is still out there, alive! I think of my family ahead of me, many of whom lived their full lifespans along the Salish Sea, too, but Granny persists. I find it incredibly poignant, this living connection to the past here.