Wednesday, July 2, 2014



Monterey's seabirds are well known, the world over, in no small thanks to Shearwater Journeys which pioneered pelagic seabirding trips here beginning in 1976. For more years than any other individual person or business, Shearwater Journeys has been the single leading seabird company offering the most annual departures for novice and expert seabirders. 
More than 60,000 birders and lovers of marine life from all over the world have participated on Shearwater Journeys's trips.
 Your birding trip begins right in the harbor where we may see PIGEON GUILLEMOT, BRANDT'S and PELAGIC CORMORANTS. Along the Coast Guard Jetty, we look for BLACK TURNSTONE, SURFBIRD, WANDERING TATTLER, and perhaps, the first RED-NECKED PHALAROPES in the kelp beds. Let's not forget the CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS piled up on the jetty, or the squeals of a young SEA OTTER!
Large numbers of seabirds, sometimes in the thousands, as these SOOTY SHEARWATERS, below, or even tens of thousands, feed on the nutrient-rich waters of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary each fall. 
This sanctuary is contiguous with the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, forming the largest protected areas in the United States. The main feature at Monterey is the huge submarine canyon which bisects the bay. This canyon is as deep as the Grand Canyon and plays a part in the huger upwelling which brings the cold, nutrient-rich waters to the surface, feeding everything from BLUE WHALES to CASSIN'S AUKLETS. It is one of very few such rich and diverse marine ecosystems in the world. 
Monterey Bay is a terrific starting point for beginner sea birders. The bay is half-moon shaped lending protection from the prevailing northwest winds. This means that we generally have very good to excellent marine weather conditions, especially during fall migration. Veteran sea birders know that Monterey Bay can turn up a MEGA-RARE seabird any day. Just ask SANDY KOMITO for whom the HAWAIIAN PETREL, above, was a LIFE BIRD 
 In addition to seabirds, marine mammals can be quite spectacular in Monterey Bay. A huge variety of whales, including, HUMPBACK, BLUE, GRAY, MINKE, FIN (rarely), BAIRD'S BEAKED WHALES, ORCAS/KILLER WHALES (above), and dolphins: RISSO'S, PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED, NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE and BOTTLENOSE, as well as HARBOR and DALL'S PORPOISES, are often seen on our Monterey Bay trips. We often spot the whales for the whale watching boats!
With loads of food, sometimes tons of food, good weather, a great diversity of seabirds and marine mammals, Monterey Bay is often the #1 destination for birders seeking to tick up a life list. 
FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER, above, is found most easily from late September through November. 
SCRIPPS'S MURRELET, above, can show up anytime throughout the fall season. 
We present, below, the 2014 Shearwater Journeys's fall schedule of pelagic trips departing from Monterey. No other organization offers more dedicated seabird trips, nor has the depth of knowledge or decades of experience as Shearwater Journeys. These trips can easily be combined with trips departing from HALF MOON BAY or BODEGA BAY, for a well rounded pelagic experience. It is always best to book more than one trip, from different ports, if possible. Debi Shearwater will be on every trips. By being out there on so many trips that cover such a large area of the Central Coast, Debi can develop a good picture of how and where the seabirds are distributed — something that changes every year, and even within the season. The ALBACORE, September 13th trip which departs from Monterey is a specialty trip. Please note that on all of the trips, we shall not be out of the sight of land, unless it is fogged in. Below, we present 17 trips. You can also view the complete 2013 schedule on our web site. Or, view it in calendar format, here. You can find many past trip reports, here. Generally, Monterey Bay trips head north, while Monterey Seavalley trips head south. However, we always go where we think we'll find the best diversity of seabirds! 


AUG. 1, FRI.
AUG. 8, FRI.
AUG. 15, FRI.
AUG. 22, FRI.
SEP. 5, FRI.
SEP. 9, TUE.
SEP. 10, WED.
SEP. 11, THU.
SEP. 12, FRI.
SEP. 14, SUN.
SEP. 25, THU.
SEP. 26, FRI.
SEP. 27, SAT.
SEP. 28, SUN.
OCT. 4, SAT.
OCT. 11, SAT. 

DEPARTURE: 7 a.m. Fisherman's Wharf Monterey. Stop at Chris' Fishing Shop on the right hand side as you walk down the wharf. They will direct you to the boat. (Albacore trip departs at 5:30 a.m.)
RETURN: 3:00 p.m. Allow for delays.
PARKING: Parking can be confusing in this area, as there are two different wharves. Park in the big lot near Fisherman's Wharf. Follow the signs. Take a ticket from the machine upon entering the lot. Stop at Chris' Fishing and let them know you are on the Shearwater Journeys's trip. They will give you a parking coupon which will reduce the cost of parking significantly. Allow at least 10 minutes to park and walk to the shop, more time if you do not know where you are going. Try to check it out the day prior. 
PRICE ADJUSTMENT: Should the pricing increase, an adjustment may be necessary at the dockside, from $5-15 per person, payable in cash only. Do not send payment ahead with your registration. This will only occur if the rate increases. 
FOOD & DRINKS: Please bring all food & drinks, including water in a small day pack. None is available on the boat. 
MOTELS: There are thousands of motels in the Monterey area. However, they can be fully booked, if an "event" is happening — which is often. Booking motel rooms ahead of arrival almost always results in lower rates, as opposed to walking in the door without a booking. Motels in the sleepy town of Pacific Grove are especially nice, with easy public assess to birding Ocean View Blvd. for rocky shorebirds. A bit closer to the wharf (but still requiring a vehicle), any motel on Munras Aveneu is fine. 
RESERVATIONS: Please follow the instructions on the web site for booking. You will receive a return confirmation by mail. 
RATE: $164/person: $199/person for the Albacore trip. 
Debi Shearwater

Images in this blog post, copyright:
Brian Sullivan, Dave Pereksta, Debi Shearwater

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