Image, courtesy and copyright, Dave Pereksta
On April 19th, Point Blue Farallon biologist, Pete Warzybok and his field crew were conducting the first Ashy Storm-petrel netting session of the breeding season when they captured a rare visitor to the California Current. The unusual Storm-petrel that found its way into their mist-net was much smaller than the typical Ashy and Leach’s Storm-petrels that breed on the islands and it had an unusual triangular shaped white patch on the rump that didn't look right, even for the smallest races of Leach’s. Photos and measurements were taken, the bird was banded and then released to go about its way. Upon consulting with field guides and experts in the field of Storm-petrel identification, the identification was confirmed. They had captured the island’s first ever Wedge-rumped Storm-petrel (Oceanodroma tethys)! This particular small individual likely belonged to the kelsalli subspecies, also known as the Peruvian Storm-petrel, and is normally found in waters over the continental shelf between Mexico and Chile. This species is very rare off of California and the Farallon bird represents the farthest north they have ever been encountered. Interestingly, all records have occurred during periods of warmest ocean temperatures, providing further evidence for the unusual warming conditions observed in the Gulf of the Farallones this year.
Speaking of rare birds, this Saturday will mark the three-year Ganniversary of the Northern Gannet on the Farallones. The first, and as far as we know only, Gannet in the Pacific first arrived at the Farallones on April 25th 2012. With the exception of a few sightseeing visits to San Francisco, it has been present at the island almost every day since.
Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel is a mega rare seabird anywhere in the USA. Additionally, a TRISTRAM'S STORM-PETREL carcass was recently found on the Farallon Islands. Things are hot offshore! There could not be a better time to plan your trip. Shearwater Journeys' calendar of 2015 trips can be found at our web site. Book early, and book often!
See you out there!