IMAGE BY DON DOOLITTLE, COPYRIGHTSeabirders,
Are you on the hunt for HAWAIIAN PETREL (Pterodroma sandwichensis)? A possible recent sighting off the edge of the Continental Shelf, west of the Farallon Islands yesterday, has prompted a rash of inquiries.
The endangered Hawaiian Petrel breeds in the Hawaiian Islands at the summit areas of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, Hawai'i, Haleakala, Maui, and forested areas on Hawai'i, Kaua'i, and Lana'i. They population has been seriously impacted by loss of habitat, predation, as well as threats at sea. Tracking of four individuals, at sea has shown that these pterodromas foraging trips can exceed 10,000 km, passing right off the northern coast of California. Scientists believe that they use high pressure systems to aid and speed their flight across the central Pacific Ocean. See the tracking map on the Oikonos web site.
Shearwater Journeys has been a leader in pursuing this species off the northern California coast. No other seabirding trips have recorded this as often as Shearwater Journeys. The single best trips for spotting Hawaiian Petrel are during August from Fort Bragg. On one trip, we were able to follow a Hawaiian Petrel for a record 17 minutes! On another day, I announced at the dock that we would definitely not see any Hawaiian Petrels, as the seas were simply flat calm. Yet, we discovered not one, but three Hawaiian Petrels that day! Some were sitting on the water! The second best shot for finding this species would be the trips from Bodega Bay. One particular day, we found not only the first Northern Hemisphere and North American record of GREAT-WINGED PETREL, but also a HAWAIIAN PETREL flew up the wake on the way home. Two seabird mega-rarities in one day! Next best trips would be those departing from Half Moon Bay. We've not had enough trips from this harbor to know how things will pan out. To date, the trips that we have done have been superbly outstanding. Monterey Bay trips can turn up almost anything, but the further south one goes, the chances of Hawaiian Petrel seem to be less likely.
Recommendations, in order of "best chance" for Hawaiian Petrel, Cook's Petrel, and other rare seabirds:
FORT BRAGG: AUG 19- 2 SPACES OPEN
FORT BRAGG: AUG 20- SOLD OUT
FORT BRAGG: AUG 21- 3 SPACES OPEN
FORT BRAGG: AUG 22- 8 SPACES OPEN
BODEGA BAY: AUG 17- 10 SPACES OPEN
BODEGA BAY: SEP 14- 12 SPACES OPEN
HALF MOON BAY: SEP 16- 1 SPACE OPEN
HALF MOON BAY: SEP 17- 1 SPACE OPEN
HALF MOON BAY: SEP 18- 2 SPACES OPEN
HALF MOON BAY: SEP 19- 10 SPACES OPEN
RESERVATIONS are essential, especially for the Fort Bragg trips. Please note that I can only be reached by email. Do not call. Obviously, I am out on a boat every day that there is a trip. To make a reservation, send your name, full snail mail address and cell phone number. You will receive a reply email confirming your reservation, or not. Only cash is accepted at the dock, exact amount preferred. There is a $10 fuel surcharge per person, per trip. (All rates were set, October 2010, prior to fuel increases).
Need I say that COOK'S PETREL is also a possibility on any of these trips! Once we are "in the zone" and chumming with Wes's magic goo, anything is possible.
Hope to see you "out there"