Saturday, June 19, 2021

6-19-2021 Orcas and Birds

 June 19th

The unusualness of this year has continued. Not having posted in a month is a clue...However, over this last month I have watched the complete cycle of the Junco baby birds and mom now having built another nest, I may just get to watch it all again.  However, I hope this next month to be watching the Southern Residents.

During this month there have been many transient orcas in the area. 

There have been no SRKWs in the inland waters.  Is that why the Ts seem to be so 'relaxed'?  In the past they would more often move through at a steady pace.  Not this year. The Ts are free to roam wherever they want without any interruptions.   

During many encounters from shore along the west side, in the past, Ts were heading up island not far from shore and at the same time SRKWs were coming down island, but they were not within hearing range.  The SRKWs continued along their same path. Then almost immediately after hearing the first SRKW vocal over the hydrophones we watched as the Ts made an abrupt turn and headed very quickly in the opposite direction! Pretty amazing.

A few images from this past month.  A lot of the days the Ts were close to the U.S. / Canadian border - a good distance out there.



...then I got sidetracked with the Juncos
...one of the Junco fledglings
...the two fledglings and mom or dad
...Cattle Pass in San Juan Channel
...Eba the whale poo sniffing dog and her 'people' at work!
...the same group from Cattle Pass, plus two additional family members passing the Lime Kiln lighthouse several hours later...
...and don't forget to look up! Sometimes that's the only orca to be seen.
...later...Soundwatch heading home, after a long day on the water.
...salmon cloud.  It looked like a salmon carcass. It got my attention because the salmon are in dire need of help. Then someone else said it made them think the salmon would be back soon, meaning the whales would be behind them. 
Speaking of the lack of the SRKWs, who used to return in April or May,  but last year J Pod didn't show up until July 1...will that be the case this year...I guess we will soon find out.
They need salmon and as long as the salmon are not here it is unlikely the whales will be.  It is also an indicator they are likely finding salmon on the outer coast - somewhere.  Let's hope.  
And the Transients and them eating their way up Haro Strait (and everywhere else) is it their way of helping to balance out the food situation?

...and then baby deer started showing up - distraction! and hummers began showing up at the flowers - another distraction! 

...have a great day...go explore and see what you might see!

Friday, May 21, 2021

5-21-2021 Taking A Look Back

Taking a look back...a memory image of Granny J-2.


There are so many who have wonderful memories of Granny.  Think about them and I bet you will find a smile on your face.

And something interesting to consider.  Back in 2009 I don't think there were drone studies on the whales. So here's something to consider.  I don't know when/if anyone knew at any time between May 2008 and Feb 2009 that Samish J-14 was pregnant.  Maybe, maybe not. Maybe this is something to remember...note that on the image it says 'it was NOT KNOWN at the time' but maybe it was, I just didn't know :)



Special Thank You, to Capt. Jim & his boat, Peregrine, for that wild day!

...Okay, the last of the Juncos...for a while...
Two days ago I heard a sound that stopped me...it was the newly hatched chicks...they don't sound like chirping birds but more like clicks and as one friend put it...baby birds echolocating!!
Turn Up the Volume

...and the feeding frenzy is underway...

...back to orcas...

...looking at the image on the left - coming towards you, the hook at the top of his dorsal fin is about the only piece of information as to who it might be.  If that was your only image it might be challenging to identify who it was, other than knowing it was a Transient (Bigg's). 
But if you got the opportunity to get another image from a different angle - you just got a flood of information. Chainsaw T063. Here he is from the profile:

...notice too how far forward his saddle patch is...SRKWs are not like that...

This image is from 2016




Wednesday, May 19, 2021

5-19-2021 Continuing the Saga of Mama Junco

5-19-2021

No SRKWs...still gone out to sea...

In the meantime there has been a little bird keeping my interest level and curiosity up.  (you may have seen a couple previous posts about the little Junco)...

today was interesting...



...the babies must be hatching!

...hope the new J Pod babies and the new L Pod baby are doing well. 

...one day...soon...we hope they will return...BUT there needs to be salmon in here for the whales to come in...

...one day soon...




Sunday, May 16, 2021

5-15-2021 Bird Watching While Waiting for the T123s

Few whales and fun birds in the last several days.

While waiting to see what the T123s would do, there were several birds that got my attention.


Sharing food? or ??


Kingfisher - fast and successful


and then...



 ...the whales were not close, as you can see, and moved out of view...the birds had quieted down...so...back home I got lucky to find mama Junco in the tree near her nest.  No peeping babies do I hear yet...but maybe soon.


May 14th...a humpback went by...too cool...on one surfacing the exhale was quite forceful and then when I looked at my images later I saw something, nothing fancy but do you see it in the 2nd image?


...the mama Junco was quite calm today. She is often irritated when I am near, but the front door is just about 6' away! She was preening and was very calm and not bothered with me taking lots of images.  

When I saw this image I began to wonder, "do the orcas ever itch and if they do might some of those scratch marks be from another one scratching an itch?  I may begin to look at scratches differently now!


Sunday, May 9, 2021

5-9-2021 Transient Vocals AGAIN in the Early Hours

Sunday, May 9th

Transient vocals and...in the wee hours of this morning!

The calls didn't last as long as yesterday's, but this time there were some percussives and what sounded like 'buzzing bees' aka high-speed click trains.

Percussives and high-speed click trains translated...could be they were making a kill.

Here's a sample from this morning's audio encounter!  



Saturday, May 8, 2021

5-8-2021 Transient Vocals in the Night

early hours of May 8...

Transient vocals and loud too.

There were some calls I haven't heard before. 

Seemed like there might have been many Ts, solely based on the length of time, over an hour from first hearing them faintly, to increasing in volume, and then fading off.

The loud calls lasted quite a while and it sounded like they were on something, like a sea lion...

Here's a sample:


 

Friday, May 7, 2021

5-7-2021 Transients - the T123s today

Friday, May 7th

Interesting watching the T123s today.  As they came up San Juan Channel it took a while to locate where they were.  There were several boats in the channel and they were spread out.  It almost seemed as if they weren't too sure where this group of four were.  It took a while to locate them...but T123A has a large presence, so that helped.

After seeing their location I continued to watch...and watch...and watch...but they were not surfacing...and they didn't surface until they were past where I and a couple others were...it was one of the longest down times I've seen...I'd estimate close to 15 minutes.



Thursday, May 6, 2021

5-5-2021 A Reminder from the SRKWs

 This is from 2018.  

The SRKWs are not here today.  They haven't been seen since April 10, 2021.



...sort of unusual for me because I'm usually out and about looking for the SRKWs...
...so on a different topic...



Monday, May 3, 2021

5-3-2021 Fun with Photo Captions

 Having some fun adding captions to images









And one more from the sky...no caption, but what do you see?


I see a laughing dolphin...then again it's been a strange year!

Saturday, April 24, 2021

4-24-2021 When You Can't Quite Figure Out Which SRKW

April 24th, Saturday

A few tidbits for when you can't quite figure out who it is you saw.

The dorsal fin and saddle patch are the key identifiers of orcas. Most of the time they can be identified by one or both.

In addition there are nicks and notches (not included in here) some with tiny nicks and a few with notches, take Notch J-47 for example.

Below are additional things to look for that might help you when looking at your images. scratches on the body; highlighting an image to see a blemish more clearly; the mouth line is sometimes unusual, and the eye patch, to name a few.


Friday, April 23, 2021

4-23-2021 How Far Can an Eagle Turn It's Head

Thursday, April 23rd

Took a drive around on the last sunny day, for the next few. First stop was at one of the pull-outs along the west side. A few birds way in the distance came into view...at first I thought bald eagles but there was something different.  They were really distant flying over the water a good distance from shore, so lots of 'dot shots' and back-lit too, so hopefully my images would give me some clues. When I looked...yep, bald eagle or two and 3 or 4 vultures.


I left there and then stopped on the upper pullout from Lime Kiln.  It was too nice to go back inside yet. There is a tree down below and across the road where an eagle, and sometimes two, will sit. And today there was one.  This was a very alert bald eagle.  Here is the sequence of how responsive to even distant noise, this eagle was.  Of course we know they are but it was interesting to watch how far the head rotated.        Images are from left to right.  Notice the middle image on the second row...the eagle might have been reacting to the sound of my camera! A few minutes later there was noise coming from the left of the eagle. So back went the head back the other direction. 

I had to look it (how far they can rotate their head) up to find out.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

4-21-2021 Transient Orcas

 April 20 and 21

The T090s and T049A3

Tuesday, April 20 - Just a few looks of them as they crossed the top of San Juan Channel and entered Spieden Channel, which they later circumnavigated.




Wednesday, April 21  - They stayed in the area!  On this day they were spotted in Spieden Channel and instead of circumnavigating Spieden Island like they did yesterday, this time when they came west in Spieden Channel they turned south between Henry Island and Roche Harbor and continued through Mosquito Pass exiting into Open Bay, just outside of Snug Harbor.  Very slowly, taking long dives, they continued south in Haro Strait, at first somewhat close to shore.

I was watching this harbor seal who was very focused on what was going on out there.  Was it the amount of boats, barely moving that caused this intent watching or was it because the seal knew there were orcas out there?