Sunday, July 25, 2010

Planning Your Pelagic Trips

Howdy, Seabirders,

The fall seabird season is about to begin!

I thought that I would offer some advise in planning your trips. Many trips are laid out in such a fashion to be able to combine them with other trips, thereby maximizing your seabird species list. Also, trips are planned to incorporate some days of land birding along the California coast. If you are traveling some distance to do the pelagic trips, it is best to try to do at least two trips. Your biggest costs are getting here, and staying here. You will be looking for not only the resident seabirds, but migrants. Like any of your favorite migration spots, the bird mix changes daily. It can also be greatly influenced by the weather. So, one poor weather day could great diminish one's chances of seeing a better variety of seabirds. Although it is very rare for Monterey Bay trips to be weathered out, during the fall season, it is not uncommon for Bodega Bay or Half Moon Bay trips to be weathered out. Monterey Bay's half-moon shape offers it some protection from the prevailing northwesterly winds. No such protection is available for trips that depart from Bodega Bay or Half Moon Bay. So, it is always best to back these trips up with a second trip, at a minimum. Booking trips that depart from several different ports is also a good idea. Seabirds tend to distribute themselves along the central coast. Monterey will always remain our "standard" pelagic trip, though. Keep following this blog to find out why!

Please note, as has been the case in the past ten years, our August 8 trip to the Farallon Islands is SOLD OUT. The following trips from Half Moon Bay have been canceled: Aug 1; Sep 19 and Oct 10.

The following are stand alone trips with spaces available:
July 31: **Half Moon Bay
Aug 6: Monterey Bay
Oct 17: Monterey Bay

**Indicates trips that have a high chance of finding COOK'S PETRELS. The August 13 & 15 pelagic trips from Fort Bragg offer the best chance in North America for finding HAWAIIAN PETREL. Second best chance for Hawaiian Petrel is the August 11 pelagic trip from Bodega Bay. See upcoming blog posts for more information about these species.

Below are some suggested itineraries.

Aug 10: Overnight Bodega Bay, shore birding in the harbor
Aug 11: **Bodega Canyon & Cordell Bank pelagic trip, night in Bodega Bay
Aug 12: Birding Highway 1 from Bodega Bay to Fort Bragg- excellent birding (see future post), overnight in Fort Bragg
Aug 13: **Fort Bragg pelagic: Hawaiian Petrel & Offshore- the single best place in North America to see this Hawaiian Petrel, overnight Fort Bragg
Aug 14: Birding around the Fort Bragg & Mendocino area- excellent birding for Mountain Quail, Dusky Grouse, Pygmy Owl, Gray Jay (see future post), overnight in Fort Bragg
Aug 15: **Fort Bragg pelagic: Hawaiian Petrel & Offshore, overnight in Fort Bragg
Aug 16: Birding en route to return to SFO.

The set of trips below comprise the period that I believe is the TOP TEN DAYS OF SEABIRDING ALONG THE CENTRAL COAST OF CALIFORNIA.
Sep 8: arrive Monterey, overnight Monterey
Sep 9: Monterey Seavalley pelagic trip, overnight Monterey
Sep 10: Monterey Bay pelagic trip, overnight Monterey
Sep 11: **Albacore Grounds: Offshore Monterey, overnight Monterey
Sep 12: Monterey Bay pelagic trip, overnight Half Moon Bay
Sep 13: **Half Moon Bay pelagic trip, overnight Half Moon Bay
Sep 14: Birding along Route 1, could include Point Reyes, en route to Bodega Bay, overnight Bodega Bay
Sep 15: Bodega Canyon & Cordell Bank, overnight Bodega Bay
Sep 16: Birding Point Reyes, overnight Half Moon Bay
Sep 17: Half Moon Bay pelagic trip, overnight Half Moon Bay
Sep 18: Half Moon Bay pelagic trip.
Sep 19: Depart for home, SFO.

The Monterey Bay Birding Festival, headquartered in Watsonville, will be held during this period. Please see their web site for more information and registration:
Shearwater Journeys is the official pelagic trip operator for the festival. Trips are scheduled for:
Sep 23: Monterey Bay, overnight in Monterey or Watsonville, if attending the festival
Sep 24: Storm-Petrel Study Tour on Monterey Bay, overnight as above
Sep 25: Monterey Seavalley, overnight as above
Sep 26: Monterey Bay, overnight in Monterey, or Half Moon Bay
Sep 27: Half Moon Bay: Offshore

Oct 1: arrive, birding Half Moon Bay, overnight Half Moon Bay
Oct 2: Half Moon Bay pelagic trip, overnight Monterey
Oct 3: Monterey Bay: Storm-Petrel Study Tour, overnight Monterey
Oct 4: birding the Monterey area, flights home

Oct 8: arrive and birding Monterey area, overnight Monterey
Oct 9: Monterey Seavalley pelagic trip, overnight Monterey
Oct 10: birding Monterey, Moss Landing, Highway 1 to Half Moon Bay
Oct 11: Half Moon Bay pelagic trip
Oct 12: return flights

SOME MOTEL SUGGESTIONS: Please note that I do not receive any commissions from motel suggestions. These are presented for your convenience.

In Bodega Bay, I have made arrangements for an excellent discount for birders. The Shearwater Journeys' rate is $109 per night + tax. This is a great place to stay. You must ask for the SJ discount, specifically, when booking. Phone: 800-541-7788.

There are many, many motels to choose from on the Monterey Peninsula, from Motel 6 in Marina, on up. Most motels on Munras Avenue are close enough to Fisherman's Wharf that driving time is only a few minutes. For excellent birding right out the front door of your room, there is nothing like staying in Pacific Grove. The many Monterey pines and cypress trees are great for seeing chestnut-backed chickadees, pygmy nuthatches and acorn woodpeckers.

Places that have been recommended to me are:

Phone: 800-206-9833

Have fun planning your trip!

Shearwaters forever,
Debi Shearwater

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