Shearwater Journeys's Monterey seabirding trip, August 22, 2014 began in the morning with breaching HUMPBACK WHALES, and ended late afternoon with more of the same. We headed south to SOBERANES CANYON and southwest offshore which turned out to be a great decision. There was a light swell and breeze from the south. We encountered greasy, flat, silver seas offshore which made spotting wildlife easy. Highlights included: BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATERS, including one leucistic individual; the first BULLER'S SHEARWATERS for Monterey this fall; close up views of SCRIPPS'S MURRELET; first of fall ARCTIC & COMMON TERNS; spectacular encounters with PARASITIC JAEGERS STEALING FISH FROM SABINE'S GULL; and amazing moments with OCEAN SUNFISH (Mola mola) SUCKING IN BY-THE-WIND-SAILORS! The HUMPBACK WHALE show continues, as do the RISSO'S DOLPHINS.
All images by Beth Hamel.
Please do not use without permission.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON fishing at the dock in the morning.
A Category I hurricane off Baja produced a light swell and breeze from the south. So, I decided to head southwest hoping that this would influence seabirds to move in our direction. That seems to have happened, and I'm betting this will continue over the coming days. The sea surface temperatures (SST's) ranged from 61 to a hot 65 F throughout the day!
I spotted a MINKE WHALE right off Point Pinos, but this HUMPBACK WHALE, above, was the first whale that everyone on board observed.
Off Asilomar Beach, we encountered the a large flock of BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATERS.
We carefully look through these flocks for any "odd" shearwaters.
These are inshore shearwaters, dwelling mostly on the Continental Shelf.
I spotted this LEUCISTIC BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATER, above and below!
We had ample time to study it while it was sitting on the water in the flock, and once it flew. A fast fly-by of such a shearwater can cause a lot of confusion. In the past, I've seen completely white Black-vented Shearwaters. Actually, this individual is in the flock image, above. Can you find it?
Continuing south to Carmel Bay, we had views of the great Crocker Mansion, below.
A flock of migrating DOWITCHERS passed us by as we headed offshore.
Offshore, we encountered a lot of marine life, including this flock of RED PHALAROPES.
At this time of year, Red Phalaropes are more commonly found offshore, while Red-necked Phalaropes are found inshore. During winter storms, Red Phalaropes can be blown to shore, and "wreck" on beaches.
As reported previously, we continue to encounter high numbers of OCEAN SUNFISH, Mola Mola.
We witnessed a rare sighting: the Ocean Sunfish sucking in BY-THE-WIND SAILORS! Ocean Sunfish eat jellies, but this is the first time I've seen them eating the Sailors!
They sucked them in like a vacuum cleaner!
OCEAN SUNFISH are the heaviest of the bony fishes, weighing up to 5,000 pounds.
They are covered with parasites and often "invite" gulls to pick on these, as seen below.
See more about OCEAN SUNFISH with images, at Jackie Sones's blog, here.
A RISSO'S DOLPHIN, below, with an oddly folded dorsal fin caused me to take a second look. This individual was traveling with other Risso's Dolphins. Notice the scars on the body.
See Jackie Sones's Risso's Dolphin images from this day, here.
BULLER'S SHEARWATERS put on a good show.
Notice the greasy, glassy-smooth, silver seas!
Both COMMON & ARCTIC TERNS passed us in small flocks, offshore. A few LONG-TAILED JAEGERS were chasing the terns. COMMON TERN, below.
In the image below, four PARASITIC JAEGERS chased a SABINE'S GULL!
Much screaming and vocalizing was going on between the jaegers and gull!
One of the PARASITIC JAEGERS closes in on the SABINE'S GULL!
Finally, the SABINE'S GULL DROPS ITS FISH & THE PARASITIC JAEGER SNAPS IT UP MID-AIR!
Click on the image: that's the fish midway between the two birds!
PARASITIC JAEGER, above.
POMARINE JAEGER, above.
One SCRIPPS'S MURRELET was found. This individual gave us considerable debate as to the identification. While the posture is more like Craveri's Murrelet, the rounded tail and short, thick bill are good field marks for Scripps's Murrelet. The bird appeared blacker, but I attribute that to the brighter sunlight (most days are quite gray). Also, the white chin and throat point more toward Scripps's Murrelet. Murrelet experts, especially Todd McGrath states that the white chin is not the best field mark and that he has never seen a Craver's Murrelet with a white chin. (He's also looked at specimens at the San Diego Natural History Museum. No Craveri's Murrelets show white chins). We were, all, very happy to have such wonderful views of this tiny alcid from the south.
More Scripp's Murrelet images from this day, here.
More Scripp's Murrelet images from this day, here.
This beautiful day ended with a distant breaching HUMPBACK WHALE!
We stayed out a little bit longer, owing to such great encounters with marine life!
Truly, a SILVER DAY AT SEA!
Many thanks to all of the folks who joined us, from near and far.
The leaders on this day were: Scott Terrill, Rick Fournier, Jennifer Green, Debi Shearwater.
THE COMPLETE SPECIES LIST FOR SHEARWATER JOURNEYS'S AUGUST 22, 2014 MONTEREY BAY PELAGIC TRIP FOLLOWS:
ALL SIGHTINGS FOR MONTEREY COUNTY:
BLAC-FOOTED ALBATROSS- 38
NORTHERN FULMAR- 2
PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER- 355
BULLER'S SHEARWATER- 9
SOOTY SHEARWATER- 520
BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATER- 415
ASHY STORM-PETREL- 2
BROWN PELICAN- 17
BRANDT'S CORMORANT- 705
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT- 4
PELAGIC CORMORANT- 20
BLACK TURNSTONE- 2
DOWITCHER SP.- 35
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE- 135
RED PHALAROPE- 18
POMARINE JAEGER- 1
PARASITIC JAEGER- 9
LONG-TAILED JAEGER- 8
HEERMANN'S GULL- 60
CALIFORNIA GULL- 15
WESTERN GULL- 485
SABINE'S GULL- 24
ELEGANT TERN- 110
COMMON TERN- 14
COMMON/ARCTIC TERN- 3
ARCTIC TERN- 5
CASPIAN TERN- 1
COMMON MURRE- 235
PIGEON GUILLEMOT- 3
CASSIN'S AUKLET- 3
RHINOCEROS AUKLET- 42
SEA OTTER- 4
CALIFORNIA SEA LION- 200
NORTHERN FUR SEAL- 18
HARBOR SEAL- 12
MINKE WHALE- 1
HUMPBACK WHALE- 34
SHORT-BEAKED COMMON DOLPHIN- 8
RISSO'S DOLPHIN- 56
DALL'S PORPOISE- 10
OCEAN SUNFISH- 27
EGG YOLK JELLY- 2
SEA NETTLE- 1
Our upcoming Monterey Seabird Trips with leaders:
SEP. 5: Rick Fournier, Nick Levendosky, Jennifer Green
SEP. 6: Scott Terrill, Linda Terrill
SEP. 9: Tom Johnson, Rick Fournier
SEP. 10: Tom Johnson
SEP. 11: Jennifer Green
SEP. 12: Tim Miller, Dena Spatz
SEP. 13: ALBACORE TRIP: Scott Terrill, Linda Terrill, Jennifer Green
SEP. 14: Clay Kempf
*SEP. 25: Jon Dunn, Nick Levendosky, Jim Danzenbaker
*SEP. 26: Kenn & Kimberly Kaufman, Scott & Linda Terrill
*SEP. 27: Scott & Linda Terrill, Jim Danzenbaker, Jennifer Green
*SEP. 28: Rick Fournier, Marissa Ortega-Welch, Courtenay Ray
OCT. 4: Nick Levendosky, Jennifer Green
OCT. 11: Nick Levendosky, Rich Fournier
* These trips are operated in association with the Monterey Bay Birding Festival.
Popular leaders, Scott & Linda Terrill will present a seabird workshop, on Thursday, September 25 from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
KENN KAUFMAN will present the keynote talk on Saturday, September 27 at 7 p.m.
Sign up for the pelagic trips with Shearwater Journeys, directly.
The ALBACORE TRIP, SEP. 13, departs from Monterey at 5:30 a.m. and returns at 5:30 p.m. and goes far offshore in search of rare seabirds!
Compliment your Monterey trip with a HALF MOON BAY pelagic trip (next one: SEP. 7), or jump on board one of our BODEGA BAY (SEP. 1 & 19) trips, especially if you are looking for storm-petrels!
SILVER DAYS AT SEA FOREVER,