Here's hoping you will enjoy Sophie Webb's images from the October 28, 2012 Half Moon Bay Shearwater Journeys's pelagic trip. All images, copyright, artist, award winning writer of children's books and naturalist, Sophie Webb. Please do not use without permission.
MARBLED MURRELET, in the early morning fog, above.
The fog quickly lifted, revealing PINK-FOOTED above, and BULLER'S SHEARWATER, below.
More soaring PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS, below.
Very confiding BULLER'S SHEARWATERS, sitting on the water, below.
A SOUTH POLAR SKUA, below, sitting amongst the shearwaters.
The BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATER show was pretty awesome.
BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATER, below.
Adult BROWN PELICAN. Many young pelicans starved to death this fall.
HEERMANN'S GULL, below.
Part of the large flock of BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATERS, below. Shoreline in the background.
Great photographic opportunity of a seabird not often found in Northern California.
It was hard to not be entranced with the BLACK-VENTS, above and below.
Adult BROWN PELICAN, below.
Surprisingly, not very many COMMON MURRES were observed.
ELEGANT TERNS on the jetty in the harbor.
Hope to see you on our last fall trip, NOVEMBER 20th from HALF MOON BAY!
This is a trip report for Shearwater Journeys's pelagic trip departing from Half Moon Bay, October 28, 2012. Highlights included great views of over 500 BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATERS, which Martin Meyers obtained beautiful images of, below.
Black-vented Shearwater is an inshore seabird, found most often on the Continental Shelf.
Of course, we also made a search for the endangered MARBLED MURRELET, finding two of them. The normal scattering of fall seabirds were present, including BULLER'S SHEARWATER below, although it was getting late for them.
PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS were observed in good numbers, along with two SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATERS.
Many thanks to all of the birders who joined us from near and far for this day at sea. The leaders were: Sophie Webb, Jennifer Green and Debi Shearwater. All images, copyright, Martin Meyers. Please do not use without permission. To see more of Martin's images, click here.
Our last pelagic trip of the year is scheduled for NOVEMBER 20, departing from Half Moon Bay. This can be a terrific time of year for arriving winter seabirds, and possibly a rare seabirds. Well, you won't see one if you don't get out there! Leaders scheduled for this day include the intrepid Todd McGrath, Steve Tucker, Debi Shearwater and Ross Schaefer as chum mate. Everyone welcome!
Bodega Head's resident naturalist, Jackie Sones captured some terrific images on the Shearwater Journeys's pelagic trip departing from Bodega Bay on October 26, 2012. Jackie has not only posted these images, but also very helpful identification tips on her blog. Of the seven species of shearwaters observed on this trip, the MANX SHEARWATER, below, was the rarest find of the day. Jackie's description and explanation of the tricks of lighting are, well, enlightening!
This is a trip report for Shearwater Journeys's pelagic trip departing from Bodega Bay, October 26, 2012. Highlights included: good numbers of BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES and NORTHERN FULMARS; SEVEN SPECIES OF SHEARWATERS: PINK-FOOTED, FLESH-FOOTED, BULLER'S, SOOTY, SHORT-TAILED, MANX and BLACK-VENTED; good numbers of SOUTH POLAR SKUA and POMARINE JAEGER; five late LONG-TAILED JAEGERS; EIGHT SPECIES OF GULLS: BONAPARTE'S, HEERMANN'S, MEW, CALIFORNIA, HERRING, THAYER'S, WESTERN and GLAUCOUS-WINGED; COMMON MURRES; RHINOCEROS and CASSIN'S AUKLETS rounded out the day. The marine mammal show was excellent, with BLUE, HUMPBACK and GRAY WHALES; and NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE DOLPHINS and PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED DOLPHINS. Sea surface temperatures ranged from 54 F to 57.8 F. We encountered quite a bit of life at the 100 fathom line, although we made it as far as 650 fathoms 28.5 miles offshore, beyond Bodega Canyon and crossing over the Cordell Bank on the return ride. It was aggravatingly sunny all day long, preventing us from looking at any wildlife in the direction of the sun, which seemed to be often. Leader, Peter Pyle, spotted the MANX SHEARWATER just outside of the harbor. Three FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATERS gave outstanding views to everyone on board, circling off the stern of our vessel. The SOUTH POLAR SKUAS, in particular, put on quite a show, repeatedly circling the boat overhead. Seas were decent in the morning, but increasing throughout the day with whitecaps being the norm on the ride home. On board the best party boat in Northern California, we did just fine, however.
This was our last pelagic trip of the 2012 season from Bodega Bay. Shearwater Journeys will be offering pelagic trips departing from Bodega Bay on these dates in 2013: AUGUST 30, FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 20, FRIDAY OCTOBER 18, FRIDAY Don't miss out on the action. Trips to this area have more "mega" seabird records than any other offshore area in the United States. This year's "mega" was a Hawaiian Petrel on September 21.
Many thanks to all of the local birders and out-of-state/country birders who joined us on this day. The leaders for this trip were: Peter Pyle, Jennifer Green and Debi Shearwater. We were in Sonoma County until about 12:30. After that, we were in Marin County until about 2:45 p.m. We returned to the dock about 5 p.m.
The complete species list follows. OCTOBER 26, 2012 SONOMA/MARIN COUNTY
PACIFIC LOON- 8/0 COMMON LOON- 13/0 EARED GREBE- 700, outside of the harbor/0 BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS- 25/25 NORTHERN FULMAR- 40/27 PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER- 78/48 FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER- 2/1 BULLER'S SHEARWATER- 74/30 SOOTY SHEARWATER- 40/40 SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATER- 1/0 *MANX SHEARWATER- 1/0 BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATER- 1/0 BROWN PELICAN- 15/0 BRANDT'S CORMORANT- 100/0 PELAGIC CORMORANT- 10/0 SURF SCOTER- 40/0 GREATER SCAUP- 9/0 BLACK OYSTERCATCHER- 6/0 BLACK TURNSTONE- 3/0 SURFBIRD- 5/0 RED PHALAROPE- 5/1 SOUTH POLAR SKUA- 8/2 POMARINE JAEGER- 8/15 LONG-TAILED JAEGER- 0/5 BONAPARTE'S GULL- 0/11 HEERMANN'S GULL- 20/0 MEW GULL- 3/0 CALIFORNIA GULL- 70/20 HERRING GULL- 2/1 THAYER'S GULL- 1/0 WESTERN GULL- 200/100 GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL- 6/3 COMMON MURRE- 165/12 CASSIN'S AUKLET- 85/25 RHINOCEROS AUKLET- 27/15 PINE SISKIN- 1/0 WARBLER SP.- 1/0 CALIFORNIA SEA LION- + STELLER'S SEA LION- 1 HARBOR SEAL- + GRAY WHALE- 2 BLUE WHALE- 2 HUMPBACK WHALE- 4 NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE DOLPHIN- 20 PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED DOLPHIN- 250 OCEAN SUNFISH- 6, small ones
This is a trip report for Shearwater Journeys's pelagic trip departing from Monterey Bay, October 14, 2012. Monterey Bay seabirds did not disappoint us! Highlights were many, including, this young SEA OTTER, below that was frolicking with kelp while our vessel was still tied up at the dock!
Next, along swam the blotchy-skinned HARBOR SEAL, below.
Departing Monterey harbor, the light was just beautiful.
Suddenly, whoa— wait for it—
BATMAN BIRDER was spotted on board our vessel!
We were told he goes by, "Eli" and is 10 years old. Make no mistake about it, he is an avid birder and seems to have just about memorized his various field guides. He knows a "new tick" when he sees one, but does not keep a Life List. Can you imagine if you had seen all of this marine life at age ten?
Flocks and flocks of BLACK-VENTED, a few SOOTY and PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS along with many gulls, were feeding on market squid,Loligo opalescens that was being chased to the surface by the much larger and predatory Dosidicus gigas, HUMBOLDT SQUID! This squid, sometimes called, Giant Squid, can grow to six feet and weigh up to 110 pounds! The life of this species is being researched by a team, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Our captain, Tinker, caught 3 of these GIANT SQUIDS so that we could have a close-up view.
Leaving the feeding seabirds, we headed out to the weather buoy where we found four SOUTH POLAR SKUAS. A few HUMPBACK WHALES put on a pretty good show. A single, adult male KILLER WHALE was spotted, but we were not able to get photo ID shots. Loads of POMARINE JAEGERS were out there. Heading back to the harbor, we encountered huge rafts of the coastal BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATERS, just outside of the harbor. I estimated 2100 shearwaters. I have not seen numbers like this for many years. So, this may well presage a forecast of a coming El Nino for the winter of 2012-13. Indeed, a recent sighting of MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRDS off Southern California may be another indicator of El Nino.
Many thanks to the folks who joined us from near and far. The leaders on this day were: Clay Kempf, Jennifer Green, Rick Fournier, John Garrett, Nick Levendosky and Debi Shearwater.
The complete species list follows.
OCTOBER 14, 2012
MONTEREY/SANTA CRUZ COUNTY
RED-THROATED LOON- 1/0
PACIFIC LOON- 2/0
COMMON LOON- 10/2
WESTERN GREBE- 2/0
AMERICAN COOT- 1/0
BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS- 4/8
PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER- 200/125
SOOTY SHEARWATER- 100/100
BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATER- 2100/350
BROWN PELICAN- +/0
BRANDT'S CORMORANT- +/0
PELAGIC CORMORANT- 5/0
SURF SCOTER- 11/0
BLACK TURNSTONE- 23/0
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE- 10/15
RED PHALAROPE- 2/0
SOUTH POLAR SKUA- 0/0
POMARINE JAEGER- 0/35
PARASITIC JAEGER- 8/0
HEERMANN'S GULL- +/+
CALIFORNIA GULL- +/+
HERRING GULL- 1/0
WESTERN GULL- +/+
GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL- 1/0
ELEGANT TERN- 110/15
COMMON MURRE- 20/10
CASSIN'S AUKLET- 8/8
RHINOCEROS AUKLET- 90/40
GREAT EGRET- 5/0
PEREGRINE FALCON- 1/0
SEA OTTER- 8 + PUP, at the dock
CALIFORNIA SEA LION- +
HUMPBACK WHALE- 6
KILLER WHALE- 1, adult male
DALL'S PORPOISE- 8
OCEAN SUNFISH- 10
HUMBOLDT SQUID- + caught 3
All images, copyright, Debi Shearwater. Please do not use without permission.
Image by Mark Rauzon, copyright. Please do not use without permission.
This is a trip report for Shearwater Journeys's pelagic trip departing from Monterey Bay, September 28, 2012. Monterey Bay seabirds put on quite a show! After several weeks of unusually tough sea conditions, especially for September which is normally the calmest month of the year, the stationary high pressure system moved, and calm conditions prevailed! This trip was handled by our loyal and able leader, Jennifer Green, as I was attending the Western Field Ornithologists's Conference in Petaluma. Below is what Jennifer reported:
A calm day on the bay started in style with 10 SURFBIRDS sprinkled along the coast guard jetty and a lucky 5 PIGEON GUILLEMOTS around Otter Point and the Hopkins Marine station. We had barely found our first sooty shearwater when the boat was circled by 2 BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATERS who sat in the wake and re-circled the boat for killer views. As we headed offshore we encountered strong numbers of PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS, BULLER'S SHEARWATERS and then a FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER that sat with pink footed and circled the boat several times. After a show of DALL'S PORPOISE, the BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS started to appear. Calm conditions allowed intimate views of CASSIN'S and RHINOCEROS AUKLETS. At 26 miles offshore we picked up SABINE'S GULL and SOUTH POLAR SKUA, as well as HUMPBACK WHALES and PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED DOLPHINS. On our way home we watched RISSO'S DOLPHINS, humpback mother and calf and a SEA OTTER, feeding on crab. The big bird news was the COMMON CUCKOO in Watsonville where many on the boat headed directly. Thats the wrap, Jennifer View more of Mark Rauzon's images, including the record-making common cuckoo, here. Many thanks to all of the folks from near and far who joined our trip, including Australia, Canada, England and five different states. The leaders were: Jennifer Green, Rick Fournier, Christian Szhwarz, John Garrett and Ben Thompson.
RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH on the gaff.
Image by Mark Rauzon, copyright. Please do not use without permission.
I spent a long day at Panoche Valley on Wednesday, October 10, 2012. Highlights were many, including some surprising weather. All images below by Debi Shearwater. Dawn, heading east on Panoche Road, below. Good sized flocks of YELLOW-BILLED MAGPIES were along Panoche Road in the foothills, along with one LEWIS'S WOODPECKER which was near milepost marker 19.0. A single GREAT BLUE HERON was the only bird of note at Summit Ranch Pond.
I concentrated on birding the valley floor in Panoche Valley proper. It was surprisingly cool with temperatures about 55 F. Very surprising, was a single MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD along Panoche Road at Silver Creek. This bird is about 20 days earlier than any record that I know about.
Raptors are beginning to take up their winter stations. One FERRUGINOUS HAWK was near Spanish Cattle Company Ranch and one PRAIRIE FALCON was on the valley floor.
NORTHERN FLICKERS seemed to be migrating, as I found 7 on the valley floor, and the one pictured below, on Santa Ana Valley Road. Several more, today on San Juan Canyon Road. On the valley floor, I found one ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD, one ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER (gray-head type), one LINCOLN'S SPARROW and a few VESPER SPARROWS.
Again, on Panoche Road, near the Douglas Ranch, I found THREE CASSIN'S KINGBIRDS. At Silver Creek Ranch in the dip of the creek, was one YELLOW WARBLER and one COMMON YELLOWTHROAT.
I drove up to the county line at Jackass Pass, but it was very dull. So, I decided to head out New Idria Road where there is really some shortgrass prairie! (Panoche Road habitat is completely overgrazed).
Well, I hit the jackpot on New Idria Road, spending most of my time in the prairie, beyond the Griswold Hills. I did see a ROADRUNNER in the hills, though. At least two PRAIRIE FALCONS and an adult GOLDEN EAGLE, 10 AMERICAN KESTRELS, 7 LOGGERHEAD SHRIKES, 137 HORNED LARKS and a dozen YELLOW-BILLED MAGPIES were tallied. Please BEWARE: all of the bluebirds that I saw on Idria Road were WESTERN BLUEBIRDS, although Mountain Bluebirds should arrive in November. One COYOTE was hunting in the grasslands. I have seen San Joaquin Kit Fox, a Federally Endangered Species, along this road during spring.
The roadsides were alive with sparrow flocks, as there is vegetation for them to hide in, unlike Panoche Road which is almost devoid of any sparrow habitat. No less than 7 VESPER SPARROWS popped up on the fences, as below. Near the 16 milepost, hundreds of sparrows were along the roadside, including 100+ LARK SPARROWS, many SAVANNAH SPARROWS, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, one each, BREWER'S and CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS. This fall some five records of CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS have been reported in San Benito County, doubling all records for the county. I suspect that both Clay-colored and Brewer's occur regularly in San Benito County each fall. Patient birders might be rewarded with sightings of one or the other, or both of these sparrows. About 16 miles out New Idria Road is Ashurst Ranch. That is the general area to watch for the big sparrow flocks. Best approach is remaining inside of your car, using it as a blind. If you find either sparrow, please let me know.
I drove all the way to New Idria "town" which I do not recommend. It is an EPA SuperFund clean up sight. Some unsavory characters may be around. The town is burnt down, in any case.
As dark clouds began forming across the valley, I headed home to Hollister.
Suddenly, hail was pouring out of the sky. Lightning and Thunder, too!
Check back often, as I will be heading out to Panoche Valley at least once a week throughout the late fall and winter seasons. One TARANTULA was on the road, looking for its mate. It certainly is one of my most favorite birding places. If you eBird, be sure to check out the Hot Spots on eBird, and log your lists using those spots, limiting your travel distance to 5 miles for any one report. See you out there!