Saturday, February 27, 2021

2-27-2021 Eagles and Whales, Oh, My!

 Saturday, February 27

A pretty day- no wind, no rain, I drive to the park and on my way I stop at a wide spot along the road just up the hill from the entrance to Lime Kiln.  I thought I was going to watch the birds...

I didn't even get the car turned off., when I noticed something moving, on the hill below me... car still in gear, grabbed my cell phone and after a while I wondered how many pictures I could take- ha!ha!...I had to shoot through the window, because anything might 'scare' off...


Yikes! I have not ever been this close to a bald eagle...the eagle was eating on something but I could not see it due to the lumpy hillside...

There were no other eagles around...this one was just chowing down...

After a while it flew off to this tree...

I drove down the hill and thought I might find it...I did but only to see it flying off...must have been full...

I decided to go to False Bay to walk - it's often a good place to go, because when I do whales usually show up at the park while I'm down island walking!...okay...back to check to see what that eagle had been eating on...it was a deer...

I noticed several eagles flying around and then I heard a blow...huh?... I heard it again...I looked toward the water (good idea) - whales!!!!!!

Made it running to the lighthouse in time to see the T49As, some of them...very close to shore, going up island...



...next stop...County Park...I get to County Park and tell some folks,  setting up their tents, that some whales were coming up island...


...sweet!...thank you whales...four of the T49As...T49A, T49A1 is the big male...there's mom and the two youngest...there are also 2 middle kids...and only those two know when, where, and with whom they will show up...after all those two do that!

...an adventurous day it was!

Monday, February 22, 2021

2-22-2021 Stress Free and Whales Too!

I had a bit of fun with the above image and it was one way to see that I really did begin to deal with all the stress...duh, me...

 The following occurred in mid-morning along the west side of the island...after J Pod and the K13s had come down the other side of the island on the 20th...

On Monday 2-22, there were 'just' four orcas... They appeared to be in travel mode, moving along at a steady pace...they got as far north as about the top end of County Park before moving offshore and likely going into Canadian waters...



...who were they? The T123s.  The fella 'wearing the hat' is T123A, oldest offspring of T123...

...mom, T123, has the most 'resident' looking dorsal fin...and could easily be mistaken for one...that is except for her offspring...
...the adult male, T123A, has a scoop-like notch about a 1/4 of the way down his trailing edge...his youngest sibling, T123D- the one who's eye patch is showing - also a distinctive eye patch shape for Transients...the middle sibling is T123C who has a very broad dorsal fin, also indicative of Transients...

Today, 2/23, was quiet for whales but full of excitement for many people who got to reschedule their Covid-19 vaccination for next week.
Hopefully no snow storms between now and then!


Sunday, February 21, 2021

2-21-2021 SRKWs in the Salish Sea Feb 17 and 20

 Encounters with SRKWs Feb 17 and Feb 20

(Apologies for me being so wordy...but it's been too quiet for too long!)

Early morning on Feb 17, J, K, and L pod calls were detected over the Lime Kiln hydrophones.  Based on the call volume or lack there of and the length of time, it sounded like they had come into Haro Strait from the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  It wasn't yet daylight...tick-tock-tick-tock...waiting for some daylight...

I spotted some whales far across in Canadian waters and did get one image...luckily of Mike J-26.  That sort of goes along with the J Pod calls that were heard early on.  There were a few K Pod calls but not many.  And then began L Pod calls.  Some of the calls are made by all three pods, so it's not necessarily easy to identify which unless you hear their (what I call) signature calls - the calls that are ONLY made by a certain pod...then you will know. But when you see them and have a visual that helps a great deal too! 

As those J Pod whales were miles from shore all of a sudden here came some whales much closer to the west side.  Lapis L-103 and Lazuli L-123.  This was just one surfacing.  I needed a closer look at the eye patches to verify because they were not that close to shore.

...they were spread out and and the seas were rough which made IDs more challenging...challenges are good!

...kept on watching and 'all of a sudden'...a female with a calf.

Knowing that Tahlequah and Eclipse had just had new offspring a few months ago...hmm...but wouldn't they be with J Pod who was miles off shore and up ahead...  I guess so...after a closer look later and matching the saddle patch...it was Surprise! L86 with a new calf!!!

This image isn't the greatest but it shows mom and calf.


The Center for Whale Research designated the calf as L-125.  This is Surprises!' third offspring.  Only Pooka L-106 and now L-125 are her living offspring.

On that afternoon the whales, or at least some of them went through Active Pass.  Some shared some beautiful video of many J Pod whales together.  Active Pass in the Strait of Georgia is a very special place when the timing just happens that you and the whales are there at the same time. However there are some very special places to see the whales off San Juan Island...one which occurred on Feb 20th.

February 20th
L Pod calls were heard over the Lime Kiln hydrophones early...once again before daylight.  The calls were faint indicating distant, but they didn't really get much louder and they were not seen in the morning...hmmm...likely they were in Canadian waters miles across and coming down from the north...and only L Pod calls were heard...
So where were J and those K Pod whales?
Answer:  They were spotted coming down San Juan Channel...the traffic driving to the south end of the island was amazing - like amazingly busy!  YAY! the word was out...the whales were coming down...










...it is said that the amount of snow this year will help the salmon.  Let's hope so. 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

2-14-2021 A Valentine from the SRKWs

Not close to shore,

Taken in 2016,

Not common to see a 'heart shaped' blow from an orca,


So where are they?...people will often ask.

Reply...In the water...somewhere.

And when they do appear, over the hydrophones or through your binoculars, pause and take it all in.  

Listening? It's not just their sounds, it's them 'talking' to each other in their language. 

Seeing? It's not just that they are starkly beautiful in their black and white 'coats'...they are interacting with one another.

Next time you hear or see them...just be 'with them' from where you are and enjoy their 'gift of presence'.