21 Nov 2014

21 Nov 14 - Off To The Other Channel Islands

Today I was off to the Prisoners Harbour landing on Santa Cruz Island on a day trip. The boat left Ventura harbour at a civilised 09:00 & returned at 14:45. It was around a ninety minute crossing, plus an extra few minutes to drop the majority of the passengers at Scorpion Anchorage on the island. I was down at the quayside early to get a good breakfast before heading off, as it would be late afternoon before I was back on land. Getting a filling breakfast is rarely hard to find in the US. There were a few Birds in Ventura Harbour, before we set off.
Black-necked Grebe: This is the californicus subspecies
Double-crested Cormorant
Western Gull: Adult
Great-tailed Grackle
Finally, we were all aboard the boat & ready to head out. The first few minutes were nice & calm as we were within the harbour. But as soon as we headed out into the open water, it became pretty choppy. There were a number of the passengers who were not enjoying the motion, but after two weeks on the Braveheart, I was able to cope.
Brown Pelican on the outer harbour wall
Californian Sealion: Female chilling out
Californian Sealion: Female. One of the features is the flat head, gently sloping forehead & blunt nose
Looking back on the Ventura harbour & the surrounding coastline
The Channel Islands lie about twenty miles offshore & are part of the Channel Isles National Park
Map of the Channel Islands National Park
There are a lot of oil platforms off this part of the Californian coast
Cassin's Auklet: There were several hundred on the two crossings, but they were difficult to photograph given the bumpy crossing & they tended to fly well before the boat was close to them
Cassin's Auklet
Santa Cruz Island is a dry & arid island
Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island: We dropped nearly all the passengers here. There were only three postgrad students & myself carrying onto Prisoners Harbour
Santa Cruz Island: The island is dry & looks to be sedimentary in origin
The Captain's map of Santa Cruz Island: Scorpion Anchorage is the top right red marker & Prisoners Harbour is shown by the red boat on the map
Coming into Prisoners Harbour on Santa Cruz Island: You need to stay on the boat till Prisoners Harbour as this is the best site for the Island Scrub Jay
Brandt's Cormorant: With one or two Double-crested Cormorants enjoying this well-used rock just offshore of Santa Cruz Island
Mallard: Male. One of several species of Ducks around Santa Cruz Island
Eider: Female. This is the v-nigrum subspecies
Surf Scoter
I had around three & a half hours to explore the valley & hillside paths behind the quay.