Common Murre and Rhinoceros Auklet Switch

By Joe Behnke. Filed in Bird surveys  |   
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Last Friday, the waters off Iceberg were bubbling with 2-inch herring. A bait ball off the point attracted a hundred common murres, over 150 gulls, and some cormorants and a few rhinoceros auklets. A major shift occurred this month as common murres arrived to inland waters from the ocean and rhinoceros auklets departed for the ocean, having completed their summer nesting season. Upon close inspection, I observed several murre fathers escorting their flightless chicks. Gulls are showing high numbers now with visiting California gulls and Heermann’s gulls around, and glaucous-wings completing their breeding season on local islands. They are taking advantage of the sandlance and herring that is accessible on the surface in summer. Several marbled murrelet pairs were spotted, too. They now are wearing their winter plumage, as are many pigeon guillemots. I spotted a few surf scoters and a harlequin duck in flight. One bald eagle was sitting on a distant islet, but I figure most might be salmon fishing on one of the mainland rivers.

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