Islands of a Feather: Nesting Season Ahead

Eye gulls, pelicans, and boobies as they flock in the Channel Islands.

Island Packers

TEEMING WITH LIFE: If you've ever sat through a welcome film at an aquarium or animal park or ocean-close institution, and you've watched various beasties trot and climb and swim, it's almost a certainty that you've heard a narrator intone the stirring words "teeming with life." It's almost mandatory that this short sentence appears in a film about nature or the wild, and the truth? It's the truth. The woods and the seas and lakes do tend to teem with life. But what then do we say of a place that's away from it all, where birds and whales and foxes and animalia flourish? And an island group where springtime is nesting time for an assortment of birds, including some rare? If other places use "teeming with life," we want to say that the Channel Islands National Park is "extra-teeming with life" come nesting season. It does seem that way, as you head out an Island Packers boat from Ventura, binocs out, dolphins making playful cameos near the bow of the boat.

WHAT YOU'RE KEEPING A WATCH FOR... Rare boobies, both blue-footed and brown. Western gulls. Double crested cormorants. Brown pelicans. And the "scarce" Ashy Storm Petrel, a "smaller visiting nester" to the islands. Plus? A host of other birds. It's a field day for feather fans as birds both rare and seen-around build nests and tend to their bitty progeny. Many people have been venturing out to see the blue-footed boobies and brown boobies, too, since they do stay nearer tp Baja, so Santa Barbara Channel cameos are far less frequent. Is this the season you eye something that super-extra-teems with life? Nesting doesn't last forever.

NOR DOES... whale season. You just may see a gray or a Minke on your way out to Anacapa Island or Santa Cruz Island, given that gray and Minke migrations intersect with nesting season on the islands. Imagine seeing one of the world's largest creatures and a wee little gull, all in a day. Trust Island Packers, the longtime Channel Islands run-company, to point out both.

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