Mon, 25/05/2015

In July 2014 we visited the Makah Indian Reservation along Neah Bay, which lies in the North-eastern corner of the Olympic Peninsula. It is a really enchanting place: one has to walk about twenty minutes through a patch of wonderful pristine temperate rain forest before reaching a viewpoint along the wild rocky coast. We reached the spot in the late afternoon. The evening light wonderfully lit the dark ocean surrounded by the steep rocks and the forest. Under here some pictures from the wild scenery.

The Pacific coast harbours a lot of Seabird species and the Makah Indian Reservation is particularly interesting for Alcids, such as Common Murre, Pigeon Guillemot and Rhinoceros Auklet, which are the most common ones. The bird we were looking for was Tufted Puffin, one of the most subtly designed and beautifully coloured of all Seabirds!

The first two hours we saw a lot of Rhinoceros Auklets and Pigeon Guillemots fishing on the wild sea. Under here a Pigeon Guillemot flying off with some fish in its bill.

Several pairs of Glaucous-winged Gulls were nesting on the rocks beneath us (next two images). 

From time to time a Bald Eagle and an Osprey were flying over. Under here, an Osprey with a fish.

After two hours I spotted my first Marbled Murrelet, fishing just beneath our viewpoint.

All fantastic observations in beautiful light, but after three hours we still hadn't seen a single Tufted Puffin... All of sudden at about fifty metres from our observation point I spotted a Tufted Puffin diving in the wild sea. I had only seen it for maybe five seconds and I hoped for more. The next half an hour I searched in vain for the bird. Finally I was rewarded with a pair a little bit closer. One of the birds came pretty close and I could get some nice shots in the beautiful evening light!

I was really surprised how easy it was to miss these birds. They seemed to spend most of their time under the water and they would often only spend a few seconds at the surface, before diving again. Five minutes later I lost the birds again when they moved towards a rougher part of the ocean. They were so hard to find back between the big waves and the foam...

Underneath us a pair of Black Oystercatchers was foraging on the rocks. Again we had good views from another uncommon species, which has a limited range along the rocky coast from the North American Pacific.

Before we left another Tufted Puffin showed up at close distance, which was a perfect end of the day!