Saturday, 18 November 2017

Orcas off Pt Holmes near Comox !

By Keith and Heather Nicol
Orcas between Pt Holmes and Denman Island
     On Friday, November 17 we were out checking out the new bird arrivals and stopped at Pt Holmes on Lazo Road near the Comox airport.  In the near shore waters we saw some harlequin ducks as well as buffleheads and some loons when some other bird watchers noticed some spray in the water to the south west of us. We could easily see between 7-8 orcas steaming west and they proceeded to swim right past us. They were some distance off shore but the perfectly flat calm conditions made them easy to see. At times they did some interesting tailing slapping activity and partially leaped out the water. It is not known why orcas tail slap but suggestions are that it may be a playful activity or may be used in hunting. The pod then headed into the main part of Georgia Strait and appeared to be heading north.  We have not seen orcas from shore from this location so this was a real highlight. 

Orca tail slapping
A pair of Mergansers swim past a swan
       Next we headed down to the Puntledge River in Courtenay to see what bird and seal activity we could see there. The tide was about 4 meters and we headed to Lewis Park and walked along the walkway next to the tennis courts. We were lucky to see many trumpeter swans which were swimming along the far shore. They have begun to arrive over the past couple of  weeks but we could get a fine close up view of them in the river. There were also many pairs of mergansers and some golden eye ducks in the vicinity. Several seals popped their heads up now and then taking advantage of the last of the salmon runs for this year.You never know what you might see so bring your binoculars and camera when you head out!

Trumpeter Swans

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