This is a trip report for Shearwater Journeys's pelagic trips on October 6 departing from Monterey Bay and October 7 departing from Half Moon Bay. After nearly a month of a high pressure system sitting offshore and producing rough seas, we were finally treated to the more typical fall marine conditions. Glorious, flat, calm and sunny skies greeted us both days. We could not have asked for more perfect conditions. The lighting for photography ranged from amazing to stunning. Departing Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey, below. All images by Debi Shearwater, copyright. Please do not use without permission. Highlights were many: flocks of hundreds of BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATERS have entered the nearshore Monterey area; hundreds of ELEGANT TERNS were sitting on the kelp beds off Cannery Row; several hundred RISSO'S DOLPHINS were feeding on squid; stunningly, three KILLER WHALES were feeding on a kill, possibly one of the DALL'S PORPOISES that we had seen only a few minutes earlier. At Half Moon Bay: we started the day with 3 MARBLED MURRELETS just outside of the harbor; a few BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATERS were close to shore; PACIFIC LOON migration was underway; Steve Tucker spotted a LEATHERBACK SEA TURTLE on the glassy seas; one SOUTH POLAR SKUA put on a good show; NORTHERN FULMARS increased in numbers; a TUFTED PUFFIN was a nice addition; BULLER'S and PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS were in flocks, sitting on the water; the "darling" of the day was a single RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH on the fishing nets, and radio antenna; and at the end of the day, Gerry McChesney spotted 3 BAIRD'S BEAKED WHALES at the 1000 fathom line. We traveled 41 miles offshore and made it to 60 F sea surface temperatures!
Cannery Row, Monterey lit up in the morning light.
Unusual clouds for this time of year, below.
Departing from Johnson's Pier, Pillar Point, Half Moon Bay, below, we stop for MARBLED MURRELETS.
A TUFTED PUFFIN, offshore. The Farallon Islands were quite visible in the distance.
Flocks of BULLER'S SHEARWATERS provided awesome photo ops, below.
Even after 36 years of sea birding, I've never tired of seeing BULLER'S SHEARWATERS, below.
Like a ballerina, a BULLER'S SHEARWATER flies, below.
I'm such a sucker for tiny birds. This "darling" RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH landed on our boat, some 31 miles offshore. It seems that red-breasted nuthatches are everywhere, including offshore, even on a clear day. Here it is looking inside of the handle of a fishing net on the top of our boat. It made several forays toward 9 o'clock, but returned to the boat after each one. Peter Pyle said that he thought the bird was trying to head to the Farallon Islands. Finally, it made the flight, heading toward shore, but Steve Tucker followed it, announcing that it made a left hand turn— straight for the Farallones!
The evening light, returning to the harbor, was breathtaking.
Images not enhanced or altered!
We returned at 6:45 p.m. from a beautiful day!
Many thanks to all of the local birders, as well as those who traveled from far away. We very much appreciate your business.
The leaders on the Monterey Bay trip, October 6 were: Jim Holmes, Clay Kempf, Abe Borker, Jennifer Green, John Garrett and Debi Shearwater.
The leaders on the Half Moon Bay trip, October 7 were: Gerry McChesney, Christian Schwarz, John Garrett, Steve Tucker and Debi Shearwater.
The complete species list follows.
OCTOBER 6/OCTOBER 7, 2012
RED-THROATED LOON- 0/1
PACIFIC LOON- 15/38
COMMON LOON- 5/5
EARED GREBE- 3/0
WESTERN GREBE- 1/230
BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS- 16/21
NORTHERN FULMAR- 8/26
PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER- 150/85
BULLER'S SHEARWATER- 14/165 (flocks offshore in the warm, tuna water).
SOOTY SHEARWATER- 75/175
BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATER- 320/8
ASHY STORM-PETREL- 0/2
BROWN PELICAN- +/+
BRANDT'S CORMORANT- 5/+
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT- 2/50
PELAGIC CORMORANT- 3/4
SURF SCOTER- 0/1
CACKLING GOOSE- 32/0
BLACK OYSTERCATCHER- 2/0
BLACK TURNSTONE- 10/7
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE- 20/2
RED PHALAROPE- 3/1
SOUTH POLAR SKUA- 1/1
POMARINE JAEGER- 16/5
PARASITIC JAEGER- 8/7
PARASITIC/LONG-TAILED JAEGER- 1/0
HEERMANN'S GULL- +/+
CALIFORNIA GULL- +/+
WESTERN GULL- +/+
GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL- 0/2
WESTERN/GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL- 1/2
ELEGANT TERN- 318/16
COMMON MURRE- 130/500
MARBLED MURRELET- 0/3
CASSIN'S AUKLET- 30/110
RHINOCEROS AUKLET- 210/45
TUFTED PUFFIN- 0/1
SEA OTTER- +/0
CALIFORNIA SEA LION- +/4
NORTHERN FUR SEAL- 0/1
HARBOR SEAL- +/+
HUMPBACK WHALE- 2/1
BAIRD'S BEAKED WHALE- 0/2 or 3
KILLER WHALE- 3 (adult female, calf, possible "sprouter" male/or female)
RISSO'S DOLPHIN- 250/0
PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED DOLPHIN- 0/12
DALL'S PORPOISE- 1 or 2/0
OCEAN SUNFISH- +/++
BLUE SHARK- 0/1(in the warm water)
*LEATHERBACK SEA TURTLE- 0/1 (loads of brown jellies around)
Our last trips of the fall season are as follows:
SUN, OCT 14 MONTEREY BAY
FRI, OCT 26 BODEGA BAY
SUN, OCT 28 HALF MOON BAY
TUE, NOV 20 HALF MOON BAY
If weather conditions permit, we may head far offshore, especially on the Half Moon Bay trips, hoping for Cook's or Mottled Petrels. This is the time of year when both Parkinson's and White-chinned Petrels have been found. Jump on board with us!
Real birds eat squid,