Monterey Bay seabirds put on a spectacular show on Shearwater Journeys's September 5, 2014 pelagic trip. Within thirty minutes of departing the dock, we were surrounded by tens of thousands of shearwaters and feeding whales!
Highlights included: PACIFIC MACKEREL chasing anchovies to the surface of the sea where shearwaters were snatching them up! Important seabirds we observed included: six species of shearwaters: 27,000 SOOTY SHEARWATERS; 250 PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS; 1200 BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATERS; 6 BULLER'S SHEARWATERS and 1 FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER; all three species of jaegers: POMARINE, PARASTIC and LONG-TAILED JAEGER; SOUTH POLAR SKUA; a brilliant and complete selection of rocky shorebirds on the Coast Guard Jetty: 2 BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS, 1 WANDERING TATTLER, 7 BLACK TURNSTONES and 6 SURFBIRDS; a springing of COMMON TERNS; nursery schools of vocalizing father/chick pairs of COMMON MURRES, the last of the PIGEON GUILLEMOTS, a few RHINOCEROS AUKLETS and tiny handful of CASSIN'S AUKLETS. The HUMPBACK WHALES continue to put on quite a show with lunge-feeding at the surface. Two different herds of dolphins included LONG-BEAKED COMMON DOLPHINS and SHORT-BEAKED COMMON DOLPHINS. Top all of this off with some very fine weather and we can all agree it was a completely outstanding day at sea on Monterey Bay!
Within thirty minutes of leaving the harbor, we found ourselves inspecting thousands and thousands of shearwaters sitting in rafts at sea, so stuffed with food that they did not want to fly. Amongst these rafts, I found 2 leucistic Black-vented Shearwaters and one leucistic Sooty Shearwater. ELEGANT TERNS were soaring ultra high in the sky, probably searching for food. Then, we saw shearwaters diving and fish "breezing" across the top of the sea! These anchovies were being pursued from below by the predatory mackerel! Amongst these rafts of shearwaters, leader Rick Fournier spotted a MANX SHEARWATER! Everyone on the boat, including many photographers, was able to get great views of this rarely spotted Pacific shearwater. In fact, it was one of the best views I've had in many years. We continued searching the shearwater flocks and then headed north to Santa Cruz County and the old haunts of storm-petrel flocks. A couple single BLACK STORM-PETRELS made passes at the boat. Jaegers and the SOUTH POLAR SKUA flew by, as well as BULLER'S SHEARWATERS. We stopped and I dumped out some menhaden oil, and leader Jennifer Green spotted a FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER soaring over the slick. A few minutes later, it was spotted sitting in a flock of a dozen or so PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS.
Our very capable captain, "Tinker," above, catching a MACKEREL for us to see.
Here is a video of PACIFIC MACKEREL at the MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM.
Seabirds are not evenly distributed at sea. They are found in patches — wherever the food is located!
As everyone has heard me say, "It's all about food!"
We love to honor celebrations at sea on our pelagic trips.
This beautiful couple, Christine Miller and Chantel Fletcher celebrated their 13th Anniversary together!
Many thanks to all of the folks who joined our trip from near and far, including Finland and England. Many thanks to Wally & Lois Goldfrank and their friends in the Santa Cruz Bird Club!
The leaders on this trip were: Jennifer Green, Nick Levendosky, Rick Fournier and Debi Shearwater.
THE COMPLETE SPECIES LIST FOR SHEARWATER JOURNEYS'S MONTEREY BAY SEPTEMBER 5, 2014 PELAGIC SEABIRDING TRIP FOLLOWS:
MONTEREY/SANTA CRUZ COUNTIES
BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS- 6/13
NORTHERN FULMAR- 0/1
PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER- 157/159
*FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER- 0/1
BULLER'S SHEARWATER- 2/4
SOOTY SHEARWATER- 26,000/100
*MANX SHEARWATER- 3/0
BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATER- 1200/0
BLACK STORM-PETREL- 0/3
BROWN PELICAN- +
BRANDT'S CORMORANT- +
PELAGIC CORMORANT- 2/0
BLACK OYSTERCATCHER- 2/0
WANDERING TATTLER- 1/0
BLACK TURNSTONE- 7/0
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE- 29/17
SOUTH POLAR SKUA- 0/1
POMARINE JAEGER- 1/2
PARASITIC JAEAGER- 6/3
LONG-TAILED JAEGER- 0/2
HEERMANN'S GULL- +
CALIFORNIA GULL- +
WESTERN GULL- +
ELEGANT TERN- 120/12
COMMON TERN- 8/6
COMMON MURRE- 225/25
PIGEON GUILLEMOT- 2/0
CASSIN'S AUKLET- 4/8
RHINOCEROS AUKLET- 4/8
SEA OTTER- 8
CALIFORNIA SEA LION- 130
NORTHERN FUR SEAL- 1
HARBOR SEAL- 4
HUMPBACK WHALE- 25
SHORT-BEAKED COMMON DOLPHIN- 25
LONG-BEAKED COMMON DOLPHIN- 40, separate herds
OCEAN SUNFISH- 1
WE ARE IN THE MIDST OF 11 DAYS OF TRIPS IN A ROW!
JUMP ON BOARD with SHEARWATER JOURNEYS!