Saturday, February 20, 2016


41 YEARS OF CALIFORNIA SEABIRDING 
SHEARWATER JOURNEYS

Welcome to Shearwater Journeys, the premier seabirding company in North America which has served generations of birders. From Eureka in northern California to San Diego, Shearwater Journeys has, at one time or another offered offshore pelagic trips along the entire coastline. Indeed, we were the pioneers of such amazing trips to the Davidson Seamount in the 1970’s, now protected as part of the marine sanctuary. Many new seabird records for the State of California and North America have been discovered on our trips — more than any others, adding immensely to the avifauna data base. In recent years, we’ve concentrated our trips along the rich California Current, offering trips departing from Monterey, Half Moon Bay, and Sausalito. This is quite possibly the single most productive ocean area in the entire world. 

Forty years, thousands of trips, and tens of thousands of birders have joined our trips where we have observed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of seabirds. There is no comparison. We have some 24 trips on offer for the coming fall season. Join the fun and exciting world of seabirds and marine mammals with Shearwater Journeys, the folks who have introduced generations of birders to this unique world. There is only one Shearwater Journeys! 

EXPEDITION VOYAGE: ENCHANTED GALAPAGOS, November 1- 14, 2017 is a charter voyage for only 15 guests. Join Debi as she returns to these fabulous islands. We shall target the endemic birds and wildlife, hiking on all of the key islands. UPDATE: Remarkably, this voyage sold out within 24 hours! I added second voyage, November 15 - 28, 2017 which has also sold out. We are now taking a WAITING LIST. To put your name on the wait list, please email Debi for more information: debi@shearwaterjourneys.com.

2016 CALENDAR OF TRIPS

May 27-Jun. 20 RUSSIA’S RING OF FIRE VOYAGE- SOLD OUT
Jun. 9 -20 RUSSIA’S SEA OF OKHOTSK VOYAGE- SOLD OUT                
Jul. 29, Fri. Monterey Bay: Albatrosses & Early Fall Seabirds $168
Aug. 6, Sat. Half Moon Bay: Albatrosses & Early Fall Seabirds $198
Aug. 7, Sun. Farallon Islands: Tufted Puffins & Breeding Seabirds $189
Aug. 13, Sat. Half Moon Bay: Albatrosses & Early Fall Seabirds $198
Aug. 14, Sun. Farallon Islands: Tufted Puffins & Breeding Seabirds $189
Aug. 19, Fri.   Half Moon Bay: Albatrosses & Fall Seabirds $198
Aug. 26, Fri. Monterey Bay: Albatrosses & Fall Seabirds $168
Sep. 3, Sat. Monterey Bay: Fall Seabird Classic $168
Sep. 4, Sun. Half Moon Bay: Albatrosses, Petrels & Storm-Petrels $198
Sep. 7, Wed. Monterey Seavalley: Fall Seabird Classic $168
Sep. 8, Thu. Monterey Bay: Fall Seabird Classic $168
Sep. 9, Fri. Monterey Seavalley: Fall Seabird Classic $168
Sep. 10, Sat. Albacore Grounds: Offshore Monterey $198
Sep. 11, Sun. Monterey Bay: Fall Seabird Classic $168
Sep. 15, Thu. Monterey Seavalley: Fall Seabird Classic $168
Sep. 16, Fri. Half Moon Bay: Fall Seabird Classic $198
 Sep. 23, Fri. Monterey Bay: Fall Seabird Classic $168
Sep. 24, Sat. Monterey Bay: Fall Seabird Classic $168
Sep. 25, Sun. Monterey Seavalley: Fall Seabird Classic $168
Oct. 1, Sat. Monterey Bay: Fall Seabird Classic $168
Oct. 2, Sun. Half Moon Bay: Fall Seabird Classic $198
Oct. 8, Sat. Monterey Bay: Fall Seabird Classic $168
Oct. 9, Sun. Half Moon Bay: Fall Seabird Classic $198
Oct. 16, Sun. Monterey Bay: Fall Seabird Classic $168

2017
Nov. 1-14 ENCHANTED GALAPAGOS ISLANDS VOYAGE $7990- SOLD OUT- TAKING WAITING LIST
Nov. 15-28: ENCHANTED GALAPAGOS ISLANDS VOYAGE $7990- SOLD OUT- TAKING WAITING LIST

The year 2015 was one of the single most amazing years along the central coast of California. We observed a record 20 species of tubenoses: albatrossses, petrels, shearwaters, and storm-petrels! One of many highlights was a WHITE-CHINNED PETREL on the September 15th Half Moon Bay trip that flew into the wake and sat on the water for 45 minutes! Our August 9th trip to the Farallon Islands not only saw scads of TUFTED PUFFINS, but also NORTHERN GANNET, BROWN BOOBY, and BLUE-FOOTED BOOBY! Our trips to the Farallon Islands have a 100% success rate in finding Tufted Puffins, and always sell out early. Departing from Sausalito on a very stable catamaran, we sail under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge for a unique perspective. Monterey Bay trips this past fall season were over the top with seabirds and lunge-feeding and breaching HUMPBACK WHALES. El Nino sent thousands of BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATERS to Monterey Bay and a handful of LEAST STORM-PETRELS. Every single day is completely different — just ask the folks who did 5 trips in a row from Monterey with us! Our friendly and knowledgable leaders are ready to enchance your day at sea! Join us!

DISCOUNTS: In recognition of our fourth decade of pelagic trips, we offer you a $40 per person, per trip discount on any Monterey trip on this schedule except for the September 10 Albacore trip; and a $20 per person, per trip discount on any Half Moon Bay and Farallon Island trip, if booked prior to JULY 1. Discounts must be deducted from your payment at the time of booking. All discounted trips are NON-REFUNDABLE for any reason. Note that all of our scheduled trips for 2014 and 2015 operated and none were canceled for lack of sign ups, neither were any of those trips weathered out. Many trips sold out well in advance: Farallon Islands, Albacore and many others. Book early!

RESERVATIONS: Payment, in full by check or money order, is required at the time of booking. Please include the name, home address, phone/email of each person in your party as required by the USCG. For payments outside of the USA, please email Debi. Send reservations to: Debi Shearwater, POB 190, Hollister, CA 95024. Email: debi@shearwaterjourneys.com. Please see our web site and blog for more information and updates. Please note: Debi will be out of the office from May 17 through June 24 while leading expedition voyages in the Russian Far East. You are encouraged to send in your reservation(s) during that period. Your reservation will be acknowledged after June 25. Looking forward to birding with you in our 41st year offshore! — Debi Shearwater



PO BOX 190
HOLLISTER, CA 95024

831.637.8527

Brown Booby image by Beth Hamel, copyright, Farallon Islands, August 9, 2015.
Please do not use without permission.




Sunday, December 27, 2015


Wishing everyone a very happy holiday season 
with
Thanks & Gratitude 
for the many thousands of birders who have set out to sea with us over the past 
40 years! 

Debi Shearwater
Shearwater Journeys
1976 —2015



Monday, September 7, 2015

MONTEREY SEABIRDS ROCK ON: SEPTEMBER 5, 2015

Monterey Bay seabirds and the humpback whales at Moss Landing put on a great show for our September 5, 2015 pelagic trip. Shearwater Journeys' trip headed into Santa Cruz County where many trips do not venture and found some great birds! Highlights included a JAEGER GRAND SLAM: POMARINE, PARASITIC, LONG-TAILED & SOUTH POLAR SKUA; EIGHT SPECIES OF TUBENOSES; COMMON TERNS; SABINE'S GULLS; and 52 HUMPBACK WHALES!
 SUNRISE at the Monterey Bay harbor.
 A female SEA OTTER, eating a clam breakfast.
We know she is a female because her nose is red.
Males bite the females on the nose when mating. 
 A COMMON MURRE preens in the harbor. 
It is quite unusual to see murres in the harbor and standing on jetties. 
There has been a huge die-off of murres, causes unknown, so far.
 ELEGANT TERN, one of the inshore species of birds that we search for. 
A father murre with his chick.
We saw huge nursery schools on the Santa Cruz side of the bay, as is common at this time of year. 
 PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER, above. 
 ELEGANT TERNS are followed by their begging chicks all the way from Southern California where they nested this year. 
 LONG-BEAKED COMMON DOLPHINS put on a show. 
 In total, we saw some 52 HUMPBACK WHALES, but this whale above, kept surfacing in a huge kelp patty. That's kelp hanging off the tail flukes!
 COMMON TERNS have been relatively scarce this season. 
So, it was great to see this one, above. 
They must be migrating further offshore this year. 
 BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS numbers usually drop off during September, 
but we had a good show with 31.
Many seabirds fly right up the wake. 
NORTHERN/PACIFIC FULMAR, above and below. 
PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS are great followers at sea.
Give that RED PHALAROPE a surfboard!
 We had some great comparison moments of both RED-NECKED, lower left, and RED PHALAROPES, upper right. 
A single SOUTH POLAR SKUA put on a great show! 
The ultimate bully of the sea, SOUTH POLAR SKUAS have been thin this year. 
 The dainty and beautiful, SABINE'S GULL
 SOUTH POLAR SKUA, cruising around our boat.
 POMARINE JAEGER harassing gulls. 
 We had a JAEGER GRAND SLAM: POMARINE, PARASITIC & LONG-TAILED!
 Jaegers will also chase COMMON TERNS
 BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS flying effortlessly using dynamic soaring. 
 PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER, showing its pink feet!
 Heading off to Santa Cruz County.
Many thanks to all of the participants who joined us from near and far —birders from Germany, Australia, England who ticked 10-15 life birds — and, from Lois Goldfrank, leader of the Santa Cruz birders who ticked some new county birds and even a life bird, or two. It was a banner day for County Birder! Even though the marine forecast was not the best, we made a good trip out of it by heading straight to Moss Landing where the HUMPBACK WHALE SHOW and STREAMING SOOTY SHEARWATERS, continue. After that, we followed the 50 - 100 fathom line north into Santa Cruz County, hiding in the lee of the Santa Cruz Mountains for protection from the northwest wind. All in all a great day! 

It takes a team to pull off such a great day. Leaders on this day were: TIM MILLER, CLAY KEMPF, NICK LEVENDOSKY, JENNIFER GREEN, MEL PRESTON, ALEX RINKERT, DEBI SHEARAWATER.

THE COMPLETE SPECIES LIST FOR SHEARWATER JOURNEYS' SEPTEMBER 5, 2015 TRIP FOLLOWS: 
MONTEREY/SANTA CRUZ COUNTIES/TOTAL:

COMMON LOON- 1/1/2
BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS- 6/25/31
NORTHERN FULMAR- 18/12/30
PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER- 400/50/450
BULLER'S SHEARWATER- 0/2/2
SOOTY SHEARWATER- 850/150/1000
BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATER- 35/0/35
WILSON'S STORM-PETREL- 0/2/2
ASHY STORM-PETREL- 7/19/26- most of the storm-petrels were found in 50-70 fathoms which is unusual. I think these are "scouts."
BROWN PELICAN- 30/4/34
BRANDT'S CORMORANT- 1055/9/1064
PELAGIC CORMORANT- 4/0/4
BLACK TURNSTONE- 11/0/11
SURFBIRD- 17/0/17
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE- 100/70/170
RED PHALAROPE- 7/15/22
SOUTH POLAR SKUA- 0/1/1
POMARINE JAEGER- 6/4/10
PARASITIC JAEGER- 5/1/6
LONG-TAILED JAEGER- 0/1/1
HEERMANN'S GULL- 50/0/50
CALIFORNIA GULL- 150/20/170
WESTERN GULL- 200/60/260
SABINE'S GULL- 0/3/3
ELEGANT TERN- 130/0/130
COMMON TERN- 7/4/11
COMMON MURRE- 2500/560/3060- many dad/chick pairs
CASSIN'S AUKLET- 1/0/1
RHINOCEROS AUKLET- 9/15/24
GREAT EGRET- 7/0/7
SNOWY EGRET- 1/0/1
SEA OTTER-7
CALIFORNIA SEA LION- 255
HARBOR SEAL- 1
HUMPBACK WHALE- 52
LONG-BEAKED COMMON DOLPHIN- 60
RISSO'S DOLPHIN- 6
OCEAN SUNFISH- 5
EGG YOLK JELLIES=+
MOON JELLIES- +
UPCOMING TRIPS FROM MONTEREY:
SEPTEMBER 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 16, 25, 26, 27, 28
OCTOBER 3, 10
UPCOMING TRIPS FROM HALF MOON BAY:
SEPTEMBER 20 (limited spaces open)
OCTOBER 4, 11
GREAT WHITE SHARK SEARCH:
OCTOBER 18 departing from SAUSALITO 
to the 
FARALLON ISLANDS
THEY'RE OUT THERE!!!
LIVING THE SALT LIFE,
Debi Shearwater
debi@shearwaterjourneys.com

All images, Copyright, JEFF BLEAM.
Please do not use without permission. 


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

WHY YOU SHOULD DO A PELAGIC TRIP IN SEPTEMBER 2015 !

From Monterey Bay to Half Moon Bay to Bodega Bay — the shear numbers of seabirds and marine mammals is UNPRECEDENTED! 
Not simply the streaming SOOTY SHEARWATERS, but many other species as well. 
The diversity amongst seabirds in this area this season has been astounding. 
During the past forty years, I have seen a lot of stuff — but, never anything like this! 
And, we've only just begun.
SEPTEMBER is the single best month of the entire year to see seabirds based on my forty years of experience. Get thee on a boat, post haste!
September offers the greatest diversity of seabirds & marine mammals.
There is no better month of the entire year!
September generally has the best marine weather.
Shearwater Journeys has some 14 trips on offer during September!
Like a gigantic mixing bowl of warm water, swirling cold water currents, bubbles, and eddies are making this year very special. Seabirds seldom found along the Central California Coast, are turning up. These GUADALUPE MURRELETS, above, are one of the most prized of all murrelet species. We may not see this species in our area again for another decade!
Get out there! 
Image, courtesy and copyright, Steve Howell. 
LAYSAN ALBATROSS, above,  is not easily found — there is no reliable time of year for this species. 
However, recent trips have recorded a number of these gorgeous albatrosses, especially off Bodega Bay. 
All Laysan images, courtesy and copyright, Steve Howell. 
The year 2014 saw a huge influx of BROWN BOOBIES, such as this one on the Half Moon Bay weather buoy. Their displacement continues this season. 

STORM-PETRELS which were virtually absent last fall, have been showing up in good numbers on some trips. 
Image, courtesy and copyright, Debi Shearwater.
The image below is a mixed species flock as seen on our August 2, 2015 Half Moon Bay trip. 
BODEGA BAY has been the main stomping grounds for the vast majority of storm-petrels.
We once recorded a record breaking flock of 12,350 mixed species flock! 
True to my prediction and post, STREAMING SHEARWATERS, SCHOOLING FISH & COLD WATER, rafts of thousands of storm-petrels were found near Cordell Bank within days of that post. 
Image, courtesy and copyright, Will Brooks. 
 Within those flocks, one or two WEDGE-RUMPED STORM-PETRELS were found, August 21-23, 2015!
This species has not been found in our area since the early 1980's!
There are fewer than a dozen records for the ABA area of this species!
You may recall that Point Blue banded two individual WEDGE-RUMPED STORM-PETRELS at the Farallon Islands this past spring!
Sure enough — they are out there — somewhere — a needle in a haystack, but you could get lucky!
Image, courtesy and copyright, Dave Pereksta. 
Thousands SOOTY SHEARWATERS are following the cold water streams. 
Image, above, at Bodega Bay. 
Image courtesy and copyright, Steve Howell. 
HAWAIIAN PETREL, above, was seen on one Bodega Bay trip during August this season.
There are September records, and one of these rare petrel may well be spotted again. 
We have recorded HAWAIIAN PETRELS at Monterey, Half Moon, and Bodega on previous trips. 
Image, courtesy and copyright, Scott Terrill. 
In addition to the seabirds, marine mammals have been very present and exciting. 
BLUE WHALE, above, is not as abundant as the HUMPBACK WHALES this season, but they are around. 
Image, courtesy and copyright, Dave Pereksta. 
BAIRD'S BEAKED WHALE, spyhopping, above. This large and rarely seen toothed whale was spotted on our Monterey Albacore trip last year, and again, this year at Bodega Bay. 
Image, courtesy & copyright, Steve Howell.  
Somewhere, "out there," is likely a mega-rare seabird, a WEDGE-TAILED SHEARWATER, above, and/or a
These warm water species are very possible. 
We did find a Red-billed Tropicbird on our September 21, 2014 Half Moon Bay trip.
 Both images, courtesy and copyright, Dave Pereksta.
Tropical whales may show up, for instance, last year we saw a DWARF/PYGMY SPERM WHALE.
COOK'S PETREL, below.
Image, courtesy and copyright, Scott Terrill. 
Early fall, 2009, record numbers of COOK'S PETRELS were found on Shearwater Journeys' trips from Monterey. 
I strongly encouraged everyone to get on a trip — saying what we were seeing was unprecedented —
COOK'S PETRELS within reach of a one day pelagic from Monterey —
Many birders heeded that advise and had splendid views of Cook's Petrels.
Some birders, decided to "wait for next year."
Well, next year came and went, and the next, and the next, and the next. 
So, here we are — some six years later — and it has not happened, again. 
Birders lamented: I should have followed your advise.
Oh, well. 

MORAL OF THE STORY:
WHEN EVENTS ARE UNPRECEDENTED — GET OUT THERE!

My good friend, Todd McGrath, has a ball cap with this embroidered on the back:
NO WHINERS!
There is no excuse for not getting on a September pelagic trip! 
Next year: LA NINA is already being forecast!

Finally, the BBC & PBS were so certain that Monterey Bay would produce marine life that they filmed, live: BIG BLUE LIVE. Part 2 is tonight, and Part 3 tomorrow night. 

UPCOMING TRIPS & LEADERS:


SEP 5, SAT: MONTEREY with Nick Levendosky, Jennifer Green, Clay Kempf, Mel Preston, Tim Miller, Alex Rinkert
SEP 6, SUN: HALF MOON BAY with Gerry McChesney, Jim Holmes, Will Brooks, Steve Tucker. SOLD OUT.
SEP 8, TUE: MONTEREY BAY with Rick Fournier, Christian Schwarz
SEP 9, WED: MONTEREY BAY with Tim Miller, Nick Levendosky, Christian Schwarz, Mel Preston
SEP 10, THU: MONTEREY BAY with Nick Levendosky, Christian Schwarz, Jennifer Green
SEP 11, FRI: MONTEREY BAY with Mary Gustafson, Jennifer Green, Christian Schwarz
SEP 12, SAT: MONTEREY ALBACORE with Scott Terrill, Linda Terrill, Nick Levendosky, Mary Gustafson, Rick Fournier. SOLD OUT. Wait list, email Debi.
SEP 13, SUN: MONTEREY BAY with Mary Gustafson, Chris Wood, Jessie Barry, Clay Kempf. Debi's Birthday Trip!
SEP 15, TUE: HALF MOON BAY with Mary Gustafson, Chris Wood, Jessie Barry, Tim Miller, Marisa Ortega-Welch SOLD OUT
SEP 16, WED: MONTEREY BAY with Tim Miller, Chris Wood, Jessie Barry, Annie Schmidt
SEP 18, FRI: BODEGA BAY with Nick Levendosky, Peter Pyle, Abe Borker, Steve Tucker, Steve Howell. SOLD OUT. Wait list, email Debi.
SEP 20, SUN: HALF MOON BAY with Gerry McChesney, Nick Levendosky, Scott Terrill, Linda Terrill, Steve Hampton
SEP 25, FRI: MONTEREY BAY with Rick Fournier, TBA.
SEP 26, SAT: MONTEREY BAY with Scott Terrill, Linda Terrill, TBA.
SEP 27, SUN: MONTEREY BAY with Nick Levendosky, Alex Rinkert.
OCT 3, SAT: MONTEREY BAY with Tim Miller, Dena Spatz, Jennifer Green
OCT 4, SUN: HALF MOON BAY with Steve Hampton, Will Brooks, Annie Schmidt, Christian Schwarz
OCT 10, SAT: MONTEREY BAY with Todd McGrath, David Vander Pluym, Lauren Harter, Jennifer Green
OCT 11, SUN: HALF MOON BAY with Todd McGrath, Jim Holmes, Tim Miller, Will Brooks, David Vander Pluym, Lauren Harter, Marissa Ortega-Welch
OCT 18, SUN: FARALLON ISLANDS GREAT WHITE SHARK & SEABIRDS with Peter Pyle, Gerry McChesney, Jim Holmes, Steve Tucker

Do whatever you can to get on a boat trip this month — call in sick, take a personal holiday — but, get out there! And, October — well, the Southern Hemisphere seabirds have departed for the next breeding season. That thins the shearwaters out quite a bit, making is so much easier to spot mega-rarities. October mega-rare seabirds are one story for the book — but, that's another blog post!
LIVING THE SALT LIFE,
DEBI SHEARWATER
debi@shearwaterjourneys.com

Sunday, August 30, 2015

IMAGES OF THE DAY BY STEVE TUCKER: AUGUST 16, 2015 HALF MOON BAY

Shearwater Journeys' leader, Steve Tucker, shot some beautiful images on our 
August 16, 2015 seabird trip departing from Half Moon Bay. 
Parties of PIGEON GUILLEMOTS inside the harbor.
They nest in the rocky crevices of the jetties.
BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES often fly up the wake of the boat.
A MACKEREL FEEDING FRENZY:
CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS, PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS,
BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES
all joining in the feast!
We encountered scattered storm-petrels.
ASHY STORM-PETREL, above.
WILSON'S STORM-PETREL, below.
Returning to the harbor.
STREAMING SOOTY SHEARWATERS!
UPCOMING PELAGIC TRIPS:
HALF MOON BAY: SEP 6 (2 openings), SEP 20
HALF MOON BAY: OCT 4 & 11
MONTEREY BAY: SEP 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 25, 26, 27
MONTEREY BAY: OCT 3 & 11
FARALLON ISLANDS GREAT WHITE SHARK: OCT 18
SEE YOU OUT THERE!
LIVING THE SALT LIFE,
Debi Shearwater
debi@shearwaterjourneys.com

All images, copyright, Steve Tucker
Please do not use without permission