Another Great Day on the Water

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Orcas among the San Juan Islands.

July 6

I went whale watching again today, but this time from Bellingham, Washington.  This puts you in the midst of the San Juan Islands.  It was a great trip and I was fortunate to see another pod of Orcas.

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Orcas by the San Juan Islands,

We saw transient Orcas.  There are transient Orcas and resident Orcas in Puget Sound.  The naturalist told us that the transient Orcas, many of which eat seals, live to about 40.  The resident Orcas have been documented to live to 100 and they eat salmon.  Unfortunately, the salmon stocks are so depleted that the resident Orcas are struggling.  But, the transient Orca numbers are increasing because the seal population is also increasing.

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Orcas hunting for seals by the San Juan Islands.
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Orcas hunting for seals by the San Juan Islands.

Apparently, sometimes you get to see the transient Orcas actively feeding.  Our Orcas were traveling a regular route where they are often successful in getting a seal.  When they do, they drown it and then split it up between the pod.  We saw a pod of about 4-5 whales that included a juvenile.

I also saw some seals.  They are just beginning to have their young.

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Seal mom and pup.
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Curious seal watching our boat.

 

I saw lots of seabirds including these Oystercatchers.

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Oystercatchers.

And, there were great views of Mount Baker and the San Juan Islands.

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Mount Baker.
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San Juan Islands.
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Lighthouse on Patos Island.

 

Downtown Dog

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Barn swallows.

June 27

Dart seems to be becoming a city dog.  When Regis has allowed Dart to decide where to go on their walks, Dart heads straight downtown.  I would never have guessed he would choose downtown.

Yesterday, when I was taking Dart for our morning walk, Orcas swam by the campground.  I had our best lens with me while walking Dart since I’m always looking to see what to capture.  Regis was at the campground.  Fortunately, Regis is a really great guy and took off in the car  to find us, but not before he ripped off a bunch of pictures.  We immediately headed closer to Wilson Point, since the Orcas were headed for the Straight of Juan de Fuca.  I got to see them and I think they were the same Orcas I saw from the whale boat because there was a baby in the group. While they were swimming in front of the campground, they were going through the area we’ve been kayaking.

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Orcas swimming by Port Townsend.

I broke down, took some money out of my IRA, and bought two new lenses.  The new lenses arrived a few hours after the Orcas left.  I’ve only tried the new Canon 70-200/2.8L IS II USM so far.  I am in love with this lens.  This is my new favorite lens.  Regis talked me into spending the extra money for the 2.8 and I’m glad I did.

The trouble with my old lens started with the purchase of my new 100-400 lens before this trip.  Most of my pictures have been blurry, so I thought the problem was me.  I noticed the pictures with the 100-400 lens are crisp and clear.  So, Regis and I started experimenting with the old lens (18-200) and saw that the pictures are blurry at most settings.  At the right focal length and lens opening, you can obtain an ok picture.  But, all other lengths and settings are blurry.  This is the same lens that broke twice and was fixed.  In my research on new lenses, I noted that this 18-200 lens is considered a travel lens and not particularly sharp.  Couple that with two breakages and this lens could not stand up to the quality of my new lens.  It took me weeks to figure out what lenses to get because I wanted to cover the focal lengths between 18-100 because that is the gap between my two other lenses.  I wound up getting a 24-70 lens and a 70-200 lens.  Now my range of lenses are 10-18, 24-70, 70-200, 100-400, and a 1.4 extender.

I have been trying to take some pictures of baby swallows but there has not been enough light since the nest is under a roof.  I was going to get Regis to shine a light source on the nest so I could take a picture, but never got around to it.  I used my new fast lens to take a picture and it worked.  When I first saw the birds last week, there were four nestlings.  Now, there are only two.

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Baby barn swallows.
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Barn swallows.

 

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Barn swallows.

I also have some extension tubes, but was not happy with the blurriness of the pictures.  The only lens I could use the tubes on was my older 18-200 lens.  That’s the blurry lens.  I put the extension tubes on the new lens and what a difference.  This is going to be fun.

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Flower in Port Townsend.

Orcas

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Orca mom and baby (T65A’s) in Puget Sound.

June 20

I went on a whale watch tour with the Puget Sound Express.  The tour leaves from the same marina/campground where we are staying, so it was convenient to walk over.  On the way, we spied this little river otter hanging around the boats.

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River otter in Point Hudson marina.

Christopher, the captain heard about some whales by Seattle, so we headed south on Puget Sound.  The whales were located right off the campground on Bainbridge Island where we stayed recently.  We saw the group T65A’s.   It was a family group and there was a baby whale.   Sarah (Puget Sound Express) gave us lots of information about the whales and lots of other things.  She told us this was the only known baby whale in the area.  I got lucky!!  Christopher and Sarah were knowledgeable and delightful.  It was a great trip, so I hope to do it again before we leave.

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Orca (T65’s) in Puget Sound.
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Orca (T65’s) in Puget Sound.
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Orca mom and her baby (T65’s) in Puget Sound.
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Orcas (T65A’s) in Puget Sound with the Olympic Mountains in the background.
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Orca’s (T65A’s) with Seattle in the background.

There are a lot of deer in the area and you meet up with them any time of day or night. Yesterday, there were a mom and two fawns at the entrance to the marina.  We saw the buck below when we drove around the area the other day.

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Deer in Port Townsend.

And, as I keep saying, I love the flowers.

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Flower in Port Townsend.
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Flower in Port Townsend.

Three years ago I took a whale watch tour with Puget Sound Express and saw orcas.  I wrote a blog post here.