Wednesday, October 2, 2013

TRIP REPORT: SEPTEMBER 27, 2013, MONTEREY BAY

A SEA OF LIFE!

Howdy, Birders,
This is a trip report for Shearwater Journeys' September 27, 2013 pelagic trip departing from Monterey Bay. The day began auspiciously, in the harbor with beautiful morning light falling on the moored boats and two SEA OTTERS, attempting to mate just as we departed the dock! Highlights included 1 FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER, 1 MANX SHEARWATER; 4 TUFTED PUFFINS (not common at Monterey Bay). A major highlight was a tremendous, multi-species feeding aggregation relatively close to shore, composed of 1320 COMMON MURRES, 885 RHINOCEROS AUKLETS, over 500 RISSO'S DOLPHINS, 1000+ CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS with some 32 feeding HUMPBACK WHALES lunging through the herds of sea lions! It was one of the most spectacular multi-species feeding frenzies that I've seen in years. We suspect that not only squid were present, but also anchovies and baby sardines. Loads and loads of food. Perhaps, the most unusual sighting of the day was this device, below, photographed by leader, Rick Fournier.
 I noticed a few birds sitting around something on the surface of the water, including a couple of BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES. On closer approach, we saw this device. Thinking that perhaps it was a lost drone, I asked our captain if he thought we should retrieve it. Then, he pointed out that it had a propeller and was moving. After spending some time at the surface, it went into a dive, much like a submarine! It looked like a drone to me. I'm still researching this one. Stay tuned. It may be an AUTONOMOUS UNDERWATER VEHICLE (AUV). In any case, it was certainly the rarest sighting of the day!
 A MANX SHEARWATER, (Puffinus puffinus) above and below. Images by Rick Fournier, copyright. 
 MANX SHEARWATER, in flight, showing the characteristic white "golf balls" on the flanks.
 MANX SHEARWATER, above and below, images by leader, Tom Johnson, who spotted this rare West Coast shearwater. 
One of four different TUFTED PUFFINS (Fratercula cirrhata) found this day. Image by Rick Fournier, below.
 
Although the above TUFTED PUFFIN is easily told by its' bright orange bill, the hatch year (HY), TUFTED PUFFIN, below is not so easily identified. Image, below, by leader, Dave Pereksta.
A cropped image of the TUFTED PUFFIN shows the very rounded head. A Rhinoceros Auklet would have a much flatter head. 
Many thanks to the birders who traveled from near and far to join our trip. The leaders on this day included: Rick Fournier, Tom Johnson, Dave Pereksta and Debi Shearwater. It was a very beautiful day at sea with nearly constant seabird activity. 
The complete species list for MONTEREY/SANTA CRUZ COUNTIES follows:

SEPTEMBER 27, 2013 SHEARWATER JOURNEYS MONTEREY BAY
PACIFIC LOON- 1/0
BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS- 9/4
PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER- 225/340
*FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER- 1/0
SOOTY SHEARWATER- 100/90
*MANX SHEARWATER- 0/1
BROWN PELICAN- +/20
BRANDT'S CORMORANT- +/12
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT- 1/0
PELAGIC CORMORANT- 3/0
SURF SCOTER- 12/0
NORTHERN SHOVELER- 1/0
BLACK OYSTERCATCHER- 2/0
BLACK TURNSTONE- 7/0
SURFBIRD- 3/0
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE- 16/220
SOUTH POLAR SKUA- 1/0
POMARINE JAEGER- 2/0
PARASITIC JAEGER- 1/0
JAEGER SP. - 3
HEERMANN'S GULL- +
CALIFORNIA GULL- +
WESTERN GULL- +
ELEGANT TERN- 150/0
COMMON MURRE- 240/1080
PIGEON GUILLEMOT- 1, juv/0
CASSIN'S AUKLET- 0/1
RHINOCEROS AUKLET- 85/800
*TUFTED PUFFIN- 2/2
*SEA OTTER- 12, attempted mating in the harbor
CALIFORNIA SEA LION- 1600
HUMPBACK WHALE- 32
RISSO'S DOLPHIN- 500+
PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED DOLPHIN- 45
DALL'S PORPOISE- 4
SEA NETTLES- ++
OCEAN SUNFISH- 2
**AUTONOMOUS UNDERWATER VEHICLE- 1, details to follow
SPACES ARE STILL AVAILABLE: 
MONTEREY BAY: OCT 5, 13, 25
HALF MOON BAY: OCT 27 & NOV 16
BODEGA BAY: OCT 18
FARALLON ISLANDS: OCT 20 for GREAT WHITE SHARKS & SEABIRDS
See you out there!
Debi Shearwater

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

SLOCUM Electric Glider

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-kMMgXhhfM00/UhXDQEgAsKI/AAAAAAAArxw/B5tLBN_WhlA/s1600/SLOCUM_Electric_Glider.jpg

Brendon Grice said...

The underwater robot looks like a SLOCUM Electric Glider if you search on google and look at the photos you can see it matches. Interesting sighting

Lauren A. Cooney said...

Hello, that is indeed our Slocum electric glider! You spotted a special hybrid version with a propeller. Thank you very much for not recovering, the glider is actively collecting science data in the Bay! Let me know if you have further questions :) Lauren, Teledyne Webb Research