Field Notes – Gulf Islands, January 27, 2013

Brandt's and Pelagic Cormorants
Brandt’s and Pelagic Cormorants
Phalacrocorax penicillatus and P. pelagicus, Phalacrocoracidae
Gulf Islands, British Columbia, Canada
Nikon D5100, 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6
January 27, 2013

On the second day of our recent trip to Sidney, Sara and I took a guided eco-cruise (EcoCruising.com) around the Gulf Islands near Sidney. Being the off-season, we were lucky enough to have the wonderfully knowledgeable tour guide Brian all to ourselves. We began with a scheduled shuttle run between Swartz Bay and Piers Island, which subsidizes the eco-cruise. After a close up look at a sea star and some barnacles on the Piers Island dock we shuttled a number of retired teachers from island back to Swartz Bay.

After we dropped of our passengers, we were able to get some nice close up views of some Mew Gulls, and Pigeon Guillemots in Swartz Bay. We then headed south east towards the smaller islands in and around the little group. Brian was kind enough to point out the dwarf Garry Oak on these tiny islands. Around these islands we saw several species including Harlequin Ducks, Harbour Seals and a pair of Nesting Bald Eagles. The highlight for me was the mix of Pelagic and Brandt’s Cormorants we saw on a tiny island north west of Dock Island (pictured above). We saw 14 bird species in total, with both the Pigeon Guillemots and the Brandt’s Cormorants being lifers for me. You can see my full listing of sightings in the KMZ file below, and you can see all my photos from the cruise on Flickr. I would highly recommend EcoCruising’s guided tours if you’re ever near Sidney.

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