Whales at the Outer Point, May 1st, 2016 - John Longstreth Nature Photography

Sunday, May 1 was a rare day for the Outer Point: tee-shirt weather, big, fluffy, flat bottomed cumulus clouds, bright sun and just a light breeze. Our Vagrants birding group started at Drake's Beach at 9 AM.  On the rock outcroppings and the sandy strands, thousands of Sanderlings were feeding along with lesser numbers of Semi-palmated Plovers, Black Turnstones, and Whimbrels. On the bay, hundreds of Surf Scoters  were feeding, resting, preening, accompanied by dozens of Common and Red-throated Loons, Eared and Horned Grebes, and a respectable number of less common Red-necked Grebes. All either in or going into their breeding plumage.

We moved on to the Lighthouse at 10 before the incoming crowds made parking difficult.  We picked up several species of land birds on the way in, including a pair of Ash-throated Flycatchers -- unusual for the Outer Point. Standing on the overlook 600 feet above the ocean, the first whales took a while to pass by with their calves. By this time of year, all the bulls and newly impregnated cows without calves -- the cows have a calf every other year -- have passed by on their way to their feeding grounds in the Aleutians and the Bering Sea. The cows with their new calves move up the coast more slowly, staying up against the shoreline to avoid predation by  Orcas and White Sharks.  We following three or four pairs from the southern side, around the Point and then along the north side, all the way to where they headed north-west along Great Beach.

We moved to Chimney Rock for lunch and then walked out to the end of the peninsula. The flowers were pretty much past their peak, but still OK. But the whales . . . I've never seen so many from Chimney Rock.  As they were following closely to the shore, we first spotted them, cow-calf pairs, coming along the shore of Drake's Bay, then around Chimney Rock and close along the ocean shore toward the Lighthouse. What a great day. 

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