Tufted Puffins Spotted in May

By Joe Behnke. Filed in Bird surveys  |   

I conducted two surveys at Iceberg since my last report: one on May 15th and the other on June 5th.  First of all, I spotted a pair of tufted puffins on May 15th, but did not see puffins on June 5th.  I expected to see them because there were feeding congregations just off the point consisting of over 200 rhinoceros auklets, a few common murres, a few cormorants, a few Pacific loons, and near 100 glaucous-winged gulls. June 5th was a -2.7 tide that peaked during my survey, and I couldn’t resist getting out my little video camera a few times to record some action: first, a ski boat shot down the center of the Strait of Juan de Fuca blaring county music—the whole place to himself—and since everything else was dead calm, its song carried loud and clear all the way to Iceberg spooking up some loafing gulls, but a family of 6 river otters, who were slipping and sliding and tunneling through the exposed eel grass beds having themselves a crunchy feast, did not seem to mind; second, in route to station 2, I heard loud splashing below the cliffs—it happened to be a large male sea lion that was going along stunning fish with a whip of its neck and gobbling them down, just about every ten seconds a new 1-3 foot long fish.  On May 15th, 4 juvenile and 2 adult bald eagles soared above the monument, and so did 7 turkey vultures. June 5th: not a bald eagle in sight. June 5th, I did see a group of 9 white-winged scoters flying along, so they haven’t all gone north.  Outer Bay had pigeon guillemots, and pelagic and double-crested cormorants. At station 1 there were 7 marbled murrelets, all with summer breeding plumage, foraging to country music. And, a group of 9 harlequin ducks dove near the point.


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