For the 2011 Solstice, Donna and I decided to row as far offshore as safely possible, searching for rarer alcids until sundown. Although they are not rare in terms of winter distribution, Ancient Murrelets can be difficult to view from shore in this area, as they tend to feed far offshore. Recently, larger than normal numbers have been reported locally, including over 500 on the Parksville-Qualicum Christmas Bird Count, more than 200 on the Nanoose Bay count, and an incredible 21,000 on the Sechelt count. With this in mind, we headed out past Gerald Island, with high hopes.
Unfortunately, the weather was against us and we were forced to turn back after about two hours of rowing when the swell hit over a meter in height. We did see four species of alcids (including the Rniceros Auklet and Common Murre in the above photographs), but none were Ancient Murrelets. Overall, the birding was slow. It would seem that the bait fish which were attracting large numbers of birds over the past month have moved on.