The warbler was on Tumbo Island, part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, just a short distance from Boiling Reef where we went to look for sea lions, porpoises, and a diverse collection of seabirds. As you can see from the map below, the reef sits right at the convergence of currents where the tides empty and fill the Strait of Georgia. This twice daily flow stirs up nutrients creating a rich feeding ground for all types of marine life.
View Boiling Reef Location in a larger map
The currents were in full flow when we were there, creating surging whitewater between the lighthouse on the point of Saturna Island and the reef, which was covered in Stellar's Sealions. The loud and smelly marine mammals were certainly the most obvious life to be seen but porpoises were busy feeding between hundreds of bobbing seabirds. Among the birds, alcids were probably the most common group of species. These are sometimes described as the penguins of the north, swimming underwater with powerful wing strokes to propel them along in pursuit of prey, and I managed to get half-decent shots of three species during the trip (some not taken right at the above location - click images to enlarge)
|Pigeon Guillemot, Cepphus columba, after a successful hunt|
|Common Murre, Uria aalge, this is a first year plumage bird (according to Mr. Sibley!)|
|Rhinoceros Auklet, Cerorhinca monocerata, - most of the alcids would dive as the boat approached and surface hundreds of metres away so it was nice to see a few in flight showing off their plumage|
|It's nice to have friends - one of these Bonaparte's Gulls has lost a contact lens! (Actually they are feeding on small organisms on the surface of the water that have been stirred up by the current, which is more scientific but less funny.)|
|Oh, that's why they call it a Long-tailed Duck!|