Monterey Bay's seabirds put on quite the show, September 11, 2011 on the Shearwater Journeys' pelagic trip. Immediately upon departure from the dock, it was apparent that there had been a dramatic change, overnight. The first Northern Fulmar was sighted, sitting on the water at the Coast Guard Jetty! I hope you will enjoy Brian Sullivan's images of this spectacular day, below. All images copyright, Brian Sullivan. Please do not use without permission.
Just outside of the harbor, massive flocks of feeding Sooty Shearwaters swirled.
Generally, we use the Sooty Shearwater as the "standard" shearwater and an aid to identifying other shearwaters. The dark belly and pale grayish wing-linings distinguish a Sooty Shearwater.
In my experience, most of these swirling flocks are quite homogenous containing only Sooty Shearwaters. However, it is not long before the first Pink-footed Shearwater, below, makes an appearance.
Just outside of Point Pinos, the first of many Black-footed Albatrosses, below, shows up. Typically, this demands that we stop the boat for birders and photographers to enjoy these great seabirds.
Stopping the boat is akin to stopping on a trail, when birding on land. Often times when one does this, one notices other birds! And, so it is, on the ocean as well. A gorgeous Sabine's Gull flies into the wake, below.
Sabine's Gulls are often quickly followed by any number of jaegers. Below, is a Long-tailed Jaeger.
Many Pomarine Jaegers, below, come to investigate the activity.
We enjoyed a great time heading north, finding 1000+ Ashy Storm-Petrels, two Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels and one Wilson's Storm-Petrel. Soon, it was time to return to the harbor. Flocks of Sooty Shearwaters were on the water. Brian spotted a Manx Shearwater, below, in one of these flocks. Manx Shearwater is a rarely seen bird at Monterey Bay and off California.
At the very end of the day, we saw a partial albino Sooty Shearwater. These birds are quite common, but rarely photographed. It requires a combination of a highly skilled seabirder and photographer. Some of these partial albino shearwaters are quite startling! This one is the "pied" shearwater, above and below. Other species of shearwaters can also appear as partial albinos. So, it is best not to simply assume that they are all Sooty Shearwaters!
This was a fabulous day of seabirds, Humpback Whales and Risso's Dolphins. You can enjoy more of Brian's images at his flickr web site, here.
AKA Annie Auklet