[Tweeters] Tufted Puffin, Rhino's and gull with a beakful, Protection Island area.

Eric Ellingson abriteway at hotmail.com
Tue Jul 9 19:40:44 PDT 2019

Marcia and I just had a very rewarding 4-mile kayak trip over a long 4th weekend out from Diamond Point (near Miller Peninsula State Park, Washington) in calm waters near Protection Island. This was our first stop en route to Neah Bay.
Protection island contains one of the last two nesting colonies of Tufted Puffin in the Puget Sound area or did... 2004 article. It also has one of the largest nesting colonies of Rhinoceros Auklets in the world.
We found this single puffin, a dozen Rhinoceros Auklets, and a few Pigeon Guillemots feeding some distance offshore. Looking thru binoculars there were hundreds of nesting burrows in the cliffside but no birds were seen in or near them. Unused? Out feeding? On the north side of the island? Does anyone know if they are around during mid-day or just out feeding?
The name Protection Island was given by George Vancouver in 1792 from the way it protected the entrance to Discovery Bay, not as the protected reserve for it's now endangered wildlife.

What a rare treat to spend about half an hour with this puffin and a few rhino's swimming and diving around our kayaks. Harbor Seals would also pop up to take a look at us. Onshore, four River Otters were seen playing on rocks.

Also of interest was a gulls feeding behavior I'd not seen before. It gathered a beakful of minnows as the Rhino's and Puffins do before swallowing them. I saw about 6-8 in its bill. As these gulls nest and breed on a couple of islands together with the Rhinos and Puffins, they must have picked this technique up from them. The gulls would grab these minnows as the diving Rhino's and the Puffin would drive them to the surface.

A couple of days later kayaking with a whale off Bullman Beach, Neah Bay area. Great trip.

https://flic.kr/p/2gvhGSi - photo of Tufted Puffin and Rhino

Eric Ellingson

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