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Author Topic: Shingle Spit Nest - 2013-2014 Season  (Read 51895 times)
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Cawatcher
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« Post / Reply #15 on: February 09, 2014, 09:08:40 PM »

Thank you wren, first time have seen a youngster. I t must have been a rush. Thank you for sharing your experience with us!  heart
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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #16 on: February 09, 2014, 10:44:18 PM »

To the left, part of the tall, tall  dorsal fin of the leading bull. But the orca on the right also has a straight fin. So a younger male? As far as I know, the females have curved dorsal fins.

January 31, 7:57 am



More of the clan here. It's hard to tell partially submerged fins from tiny baby fins. I think the one on the left is actually the tip of one of the males' fins.




Here's the big guy again. Maybe someone will be able to identify him from this view.




As the pod crossed the Spit, the sea lions followed as far as the shallows at the very tip of the land. The orcas patrolled back and forth a few times on the north side of the Spit, and a strange dance took place. Each time the orcas surfaced, the sea lions would hurry to the shallows, crowding to shore. Then the orcas would dive and the sea lions returned to the water. Then up came the whales, and out came the sea lions. Down went the whales, sea lions into the  water. It looked pretty goofy, as if the sea lions had no memory. But I'm told they are as smart as an average dog, so something else must have been going on. I just don't know what it is.

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gzebear
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« Post / Reply #17 on: February 10, 2014, 02:10:40 AM »


How wonderful to see the orcas, wren. Is it possible that the sea lions were after the same thing the whales were after but were smart enough not to compete?

Love seeing the youngster! Thanks for sharing these photos - they just made my day. nod
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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #18 on: February 22, 2014, 09:48:16 PM »

I contacted Havannah, the young woman who had commented on my previous series of Orca pictures (Here). The answer came today. She could not positively identify any individuals in the pod, because the best pictures show the whales at an angle, but she says they are transients (one can tell from the pointiness, or lack of pointiness, of the dorsal fins, but I always forget how it goes.)

I have not yet heard from the local biologist I also sent the pictures to.

If these Orcas are transients, it certainly makes me wonder why the sea lions didn't simply haul out onto the Spit to protect themselves.
My knowledge about Orcas and Sea Lions is sorely lacking. Can anyone recommend some recent books or websites about their behaviour?
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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #19 on: February 28, 2014, 03:04:43 PM »

I was asking one of my sea captains about the orcas' behaviour. He pointed out that zebras can tell when the lions are on the hunt and when they are full and relaxing. Those of you watching the African cams will probably know about this... It was news to me. So he was speculating that the sea lions can likewise tell if the orcas are looking for prey.

Meanwhile, the herring have started to gather in Lambert Channel! All morning, there have been small areas where all the birds and sea lions are gathered; from time to time the fish surface and everyone is feeding. Right now there are about 60 eagles just south of the Shingle Spit territory. This concentration makes me suspect that there isn't much feed elsewhere yet. Here's hoping that this will change soon. 
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madrona
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« Post / Reply #20 on: February 28, 2014, 03:08:33 PM »

wren - this was on CTV Vancouver news the other night.  Video sent in by kayaker, apparently, shows an orca surfacing very close to the kayak - video taken off Hornby.  The news commentary said the video was from last month!

http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?playlistId=1.1703506

Here are some stills from the video:







Video caption stated "A kayaker posted this video of an orca surfacing right in front of his kayak just off Hornby Island in British Columbia."
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   Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to
      rather than what we are separate from. - Terry Tempest Williams
Cawatcher
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« Post / Reply #21 on: February 28, 2014, 03:23:07 PM »

great thank you for update wren and madrona!!
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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #22 on: February 28, 2014, 05:29:47 PM »

Thanks Madrona!
I believe Sandor posted a link to one of those videos on the "Ground Observations that are not Eagle Related" topic. I can't check from the computer I'm on right now.

Latest count of eagles between Shingle Spit and Windy Point: 155! (I probably missed a few.) I looked at my photos briefly and some of the eagles I captured were carrying herring; it appears that there are herring scattered in the channel and that the eagles are able to catch some of them, even now when the fish are not "balling" to the surface anymore. I'm hoping you'll see some action from the cam as well.
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linused
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« Post / Reply #23 on: February 28, 2014, 05:31:32 PM »

Wow Wren,  155 eagles must be quite a sight  eek!    On my way into Campbell River today I lost count of the eagles I saw in trees and on the rocks close to shore but I couldn't stop to see what kind of fish activity there might be close to shore. Didn't see any of the eagles actually fishing.
    Thank you Madrona for the video and stills of the Orcas.  Very exciting footage.
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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #24 on: March 01, 2014, 02:27:07 PM »

Just after sunset, many of the eagles drifted west, across the channel and over Denman Island, one every few seconds. Going home to territories on Denman and Vancouver Island? Maybe so. Many more settled in the trees for the night. This morning (March 1st), I took a quick count as soon as it was light enough to see. About seventy eagles were still scattered in various trees, and a few were cruising over the water.

Then at about 10:30, it happened! We saw the water boil over a small area. All the eagles and gulls headed there. The fish were hopping all over the place, and the eagles pounced on that patch of water, five or six at a time, grabbing madly between the heaving sea lions, most coming out with fish in their talons. One youngster grabbed four, two in each foot! It was extraordinary to watch, and yes, there will be photos when I have the time and means to edit them.


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Cawatcher
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« Post / Reply #25 on: March 01, 2014, 03:58:00 PM »

omg wren how exciting to witness!!!  eek!
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gmadeb3
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« Post / Reply #26 on: March 01, 2014, 04:03:00 PM »

wow wren what a great sight to see.  I will look forward to seeing your awesome pictures  smile
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« Post / Reply #27 on: March 01, 2014, 04:04:06 PM »

Sounds like you had as exciting day as I had. Can`t wait to see the pics from you adventure.
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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #28 on: March 02, 2014, 09:11:32 PM »

February 28. This all took place just south of the Shingle Spit territory.

10:55 A small ball of herring rose to the surface earlier, but now all is calm. A few eagles are already waiting for more, and so are the gulls. The setting is a beautiful rocky beach with an escarpment above it. Click all photos to see them in larger sizes.




An arbutus tree on the escarpment...
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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #29 on: March 02, 2014, 09:34:35 PM »

February 28, 12:03. A second herring balls rises up in the middle of the channel, then seems to dissolve near shore. The herring are not spawning yet. But the sea lions are still finding them along the shore, and the gulls follow excitedly. The gulls are very buoyant and cannot dive at all, so they pounce on anything that the sea lions stir up to the surface.





Soon the eagles join the fray. The herring aren't boiling to the surface en masse at this point, but many of the eagles are catching some anyway; those who haven't found their lunch try to steal it from someone else. The preferred method seems to be rising steeply below your mark to take the fish from his talons with your beak or your own feet. Another method is to attack from above and make the other eagle drop his food, but then there is a good chance that a third eagle will end up catching the dropped fish. The adult eagle in this photo is trying the first method, but already the sub-adult has dodged the attempt. (The fish is hard to see. The upper eagle has it.)




Meanwhile more and more eagles seem to have figured out that this is where the food is.
I think the leftmost eagle has a fish.
Below, a flock of mergansers is minding its own business. They're after smaller fish... wink This is just a normal day for them.
The smudges in the background are gulls. The whole channel is full of gulls.

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