Sunday, 21 August 2016

Sea kayaking with Bonaparte Gulls at Point Holmes near Comox, B.C.

by Keith and Heather Nicol
    On Thursday, August 18 we decided to head to Point Holmes which one of our favorite launch points in Comox Valley. We like this spot since it offers a boat launch so tides are not that much of an issue and an on shore bathroom which was built last summer. It also seems to be a good place for a variety of bird and marine life. We usually paddle toward Cape Lazo and around toward Kye Bay depending on wind and weather. Once you head around the headland you are no longer protected from NW winds but if winds are light this is not a problem. On this day we were treated to a large number of Bonaparte Gulls which must be returning from breeding in the boreal forest or taiga. We were not familiar with these gulls in Newfoundland and saw our first ones earlier in the spring in their breeding plumage. They are a small graceful gull and almost look tern like at first glance. 

There was a large flock of Bonaparte Gulls at the launch point
Gull diving for food
   On this day a large flock of Bonaparte Gulls were along the sandy beach near the launch site and just off shore.   Some were displaying an interesting feeding behaviour where they flew off the water to a height of just 30-60 cm and then dove head first in the shallow water.  We spent 20 minutes watching them do their short take off and diving routine before heading toward Cape Lazo. The tide was just 1.0 meter so there were many exposed rocks and shoals.  Many of the rocks had seals draped over them and we set our sites for an offshore collection of rocks that had some gently sloping bedrock amidst the rocks. This proved to be a perfect place to haul out and have lunch.  Our lunch spot even had its own blue heron foraging for food and we saw many sea stars in the tidal pools. But the tide was rising and after 30 minutes our flattish lunch spot was in danger of being flooded so packed up and worked out way back to Pt Holmes.  Sea kayaking in this area is good at any tide but we seem to see the most wildlife at low tide.

Seals were draped on many rocks

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