Apologies for the late report. I went kayak fishing last
Thursday out of Van Damme and saw a lot of bird activity; it
only just occurred to me that it might be of interest here (in
my mind it was fishing, not birding). I was about half a mile
out, near the bell buoy, fishing in 80-150 feet of water.
Conditions were a bit rough with a 6-foot short-period swell and
a low ceiling of fog. The water was cold, around 46 F, and there
was a lot of phytoplankton. The kelp beds look about like last
year, much better than the previous four years.
The northbound migration of Pacific Loons that has been going
on for a while now continues, with several hundred per hour
going by in small groups. The "lane" was just a little farther
out than where we were fishing, for the most part - a few birds
would sometimes go right over us. At one point I drifted a
little further west and found myself right in the flight path.
That was about where the rocky shelf drops off to the flatter
muddy bottom, about 180 feet of water.
Surf Scoters were also going north in small flocks, about in
the same lane as the Loons. There was a lone Scoter just at the
entrance to the cove that had no white on its head but some
yellow in its bill, a probable Black Scoter.
Hundreds of Red-necked Phalaropes were also present, many
flying north in small flocks and many others stopping to feed
along wrack lines. Sometimes these would allow close approach in
the kayak. Both males and females were present. There were also
some unidentifiable peeps flying north.
Just as we launched a Greater Yellowlegs called, flying
overhead in the fog. On the way back in I explored a cove with
some sea caves and found a lone Wandering Tattler as well as
Black Oystercatchers. Pigeon Guillemots were flying into
crevices in the rocks and I could sometimes hear their young
calling. It seems like there are a lot of them this year.
Two Brown Pelicans came by, the first I have seen this season.
One Rhinoceros Auklet sitting on the water was also the first of
season for me.
One Shearwater, or maybe a Fulmar, swooped by but I couldn't
see it clearly enough to identify. (Sitting in a kayak in 6-foot
seas makes this even harder than usual.)
Eared Grebes were still present, in breeding plumage, a fun
sight, although they are a bit more shy and did not allow close
Three Terns went by at one point flying south. I thought they
looked more like Elegant than Caspian, but again, hard to see
clearly in those conditions.
Common Murres were scattered on the water and flying in all
directions, as were Pelagic Cormorants.
All in all it was super birdy out there. The shift from
terrestrial to marine ecosystem is really dramatic when you go
out by kayak.