HAWAIIAN PETREL: STAND UP FOR SEABIRDS
This is a full trip report for Shearwater Journeys' pelagic trip departing from Monterey Bay, August 2, 2013. The highlight of the day was a HAWAIIAN PETREL which flew within 50 feet of the stern of our boat, allowing everyone on board to have stunning views. These images were capture by David Pavlik who was chumming all day long. He is doing a Photographic Conservation Big Year. eBird Project Leader, Brian Sullivan, was co-leading this trip. He kept hourly records of seabirds from start to finish. It turns out that the Hawaiian Petrel was in BOTH SANTA CRUZ AND MONTEREY COUNTIES — A TWO-FER! Next up, a MANX SHEARWATER (SANTA CRUZ COUNTY), spotted by veteran leader, Clay Kempf, zipped past the stern. Gee, did I mention that I made an announcement in the morning that many shearwaters fly toward the stern, and that this is a good place to watch for them? A single BULLER'S SHEARWATER was spotted amongst the thousands of SOOTY SHEARWATERS. Good numbers of BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES were present throughout most of the day. A few SABINE'S GULLS passed by, but nothing like the numbers on our July 27 trip from Half Moon Bay. All three jaegers were spotted: POMARINE, PARASITIC and LONG-TAILED. In the late afternoon, a single FORK-TAILED STORM-PETREL flew into the wake of the boat and a TUFTED PUFFIN was spotted flying off the bow. Along with the more usual fall seabirds and a few HUMPBACK WHALES and dolphins, it was a very lively day, packed full of action.
This HAWAIIAN PETREL represents the third record for Santa Cruz County. Remarkably, the first Santa Cruz County record was on a Shearwater Journeys' trip, August 2, 2009! This was the year that we saw so many COOK'S PETRELS close to shore. Our August 3, 2011 trip was absolutely fantastic, as well, although no petrels. The surprise on that trip was a nearshore invasion of LEACH'S STORM-PETRELS which had never before been recorded on Monterey Bay. Clearly, early August is a great time to get out on Monterey Bay! Do it!
HAWAIIAN PETREL, above and below.
This area was dominated by a windless, stationary high pressure system until July 28th when a low pressure trough brought high winds. Very high winds were inside of Monterey Bay by noon, August 1st. There is one theory that Hawaiian Petrels ride on the edges of these high pressure systems. This may have accounted for the fact that the sighting was only a little more than 10 miles off Point Pinos, Monterey Bay. Another theory being put forth is that the main food source of Hawaiian Petrels has shifted over the past few decades, bringing the petrels within reach of one day pelagic trips, or even offshore trips up to 70 miles. Hundreds and hundreds of hours of observations on research vessels offshore, have produced extremely few sightings of the petrel in the past couple of decades. Clearly, their population is experiencing a shift in foraging. Their main prey is thought to be squid. And, there is a lot of squid in Monterey Bay and off Half Moon Bay, right now. Who knows, perhaps, we shall see more Hawaiian Petrels this season! See trips, below, for options.
MANX SHEARWATER, below.
POMARINE JAEGER, below.
SABINE'S GULL, below.
The amazing thing was that the evening prior to this trip, I was perusing the latest issue of Bird Conservation by the American Bird Conservancy. Each page was of great interest to me, but being a seabirder, I first read the article about feral cat predation of adult Hawaiian Petrels. How auspicious that I would actually spot one the next day! If you care about seabirds, please stand up for them and make a donation to the American Bird Conservancy or your favorite seabird conservation organization. This issue is not going away. It has been written about over the years, but this article by Ted Williams is especially poignant. Seabirds need all the help they can get. As a group, no other birds are disappearing faster.
All seabird images, copyright, David Pavlik, below. Please do not use without permission.
Brian Sullivan, below, identified the Hawaiian Petrel. It was a life bird for him.
Finally, Sandy Komito, of The Big Year fame, was on board for his third trip in a row! The HAWAIIAN PETREL was a LIFE BIRD for Sandy. He was a very happy fellow.
Sandy Komito & Debi Shearwater, above.
Many thanks to all of the birders who joined us on this trip, some of them making their first-ever pelagic trip! The leaders for this trip were: Clay Kempf, Brian Sullivan, Jennifer Green, Debi Shearwater and David Pavlik, chumming. The complete species list follows, including the two counties covered. Many thanks to Brian Sullivan for the tally on this trip.
MONTEREY COUNTY/SANTA CRUZ COUNTY/TOTAL
BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS - 41/31/72
NORTHERN FULMAR- 1/0/1
**HAWAIIAN PETREL- 1/1/1 Note: the petrel flew from Santa Cruz County to Monterey County
PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER - 79/63/142
BULLER'S SHEARWATER - 1/0/1
SOOTY SHEARWATER - 11625/305/119530
* MANX SHEARWATER - 0/1/1
FORK-TAILED STORM-PETREL - 1/0/1
BROWN PELICAN - 64/0/64
BRANDT'S CORMORANT - 115/0/115
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT - 1/0/1
PELAGIC CORMORANT - 1/0/1
BLACK TURNSTONE - 2/0/2
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE - 18/12/30
RED PHALAROPE - 1/1/2
POMARINE JAEGER - 4/2/6
PARASITIC JAEGER - 1/0/1
LONG-TAILED JAEGER - 0/1/1
HEERMANN'S GULL - 39/1/40
CALIFORNIA GULL - 25/5/30
WESTERN GULL - 133/13/146
SABINE'S GULL - 2/1/3
ELEGANT TERN - 79/0/79
CASPIAN TERN - 1/0/1
COMMON MURRE - 75/27/103
PIGEON GUILLEMOT - 31/0/31
RHINOCEROS AUKLET - 9/1/10
TUFTED PUFFIN - 1/0/1
SEA OTTER - 8
CALIFORNIA SEA LION - 150
HARBOR SEAL - 2
HUMPBACK WHALE - 5
RISSO'S DOLPHIN - 48
PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED DOLPHIN - 8
NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE DOLPHIN - 1
Spaces are available on our upcoming trips:
MONTEREY BAY: AUGUST 9 & 23 & all September, October trips
HALF MOON BAY: AUGUST 17, 18, 25; SEPTEMBER 8, 9, 16, 22, 28, 29; OCTOBER 6, 27
BODEGA BAY: AUGUST 30, SEPTEMBER 20, OCTOBER 18
Shearwaters & Petrels Forever,