Well, it’s been a while. It’s been a very different year on Haida Gwaii with long, sunny days, very little rain and what appears to be a very successful nesting season. The Barn Swallows really picked up, especially around Tlell. Last year was almost a failure the weather was so wet. We have had the hottest and driest summer in years.
Nothing really exceptional showed up this spring although Peter had an Upland Sandpiper in Masset earlier on. However, it’s been an exciting early fall, just last week two Buff-breasted Sandpipers fed near the beach and a Says’ Phoebe fly-caught along the track. The Buff-breasteds don’t always appear every year, we didn’t have one last year, and there are only a few records for the phoebe on island.
We had a few really big birds just recently. On Sept 3 a Long-billed Murrelet swam near the ferry dock in Skidegate Inlet. We saw it as we left the dock on the Kwuna, and took the next ferry back to find it again. It was fairly distant with no chance of a photo, although we tried. The Phoebe was not relocated, but the Buff-breasted’s were still in pretty much the same place.
We took a trip across Hecate Strait on August 12. The sea was like glass on the way over and, with the Sooties and Short-tails a Fulmar, Pink-footed Shearwater and a Sea Otter were the standouts. On the way back on August 15, seas were choppier with a running swell but we found both Pink-footed and Flesh-footed Shearwaters and, to top of the list, 2 Manx Shearwaters. We both saw one in separate parts of the Strait.
We made another crossing Hecate Strait on August 26 2013. The sea was flat calm and it was fabulous crossing on the way over. We ran into a flock of seven Arctic Terns just off Lawn Point which was amazing, they don’t often occur in these waters. Sabine’s Gulls also appeared, again fairly unusual here but not too, too rare. They are tidy little gulls, compact and delicate. As we carried on across the Strait, Pomarine and Parasitic Jaegers showed up, as did Sooty and Short-tailed Shearwaters, a Buller’s Shearwater a few Pink-footeds and a Flesh-footed (stupid names for those birds, are we likely to see their feet as they graze the swell?). We also had Fork-tailed Storm-petrels, Red-necked and Red Phalaropes and a Fulmar again. Many Cassin’s Auklets were on the move. The trip back on August 29 wasn’t great, the ferry was late leaving Prince Rupert so it went faster to make up lost time and there was a foggy drizzle all the way across. We found Pink-Footed’s again and many Fork-tailed Storm-petrels before it socked in. So if you’re looking for pelagic birds take the BC Ferry across to Skidegate and back again. The light is usually better going to Prince Rupert as the light’s behind you. As I said, it’s been a while since we posted anything, it has, as ever, been a busy year. If anything else comes up, we’ll try and get it out.