Tuesday, September 1, 2015

WHY YOU SHOULD DO A PELAGIC TRIP IN SEPTEMBER 2015 !

From Monterey Bay to Half Moon Bay to Bodega Bay — the shear numbers of seabirds and marine mammals is UNPRECEDENTED! 
Not simply the streaming SOOTY SHEARWATERS, but many other species as well. 
The diversity amongst seabirds in this area this season has been astounding. 
During the past forty years, I have seen a lot of stuff — but, never anything like this! 
And, we've only just begun.
SEPTEMBER is the single best month of the entire year to see seabirds based on my forty years of experience. Get thee on a boat, post haste!
September offers the greatest diversity of seabirds & marine mammals.
There is no better month of the entire year!
September generally has the best marine weather.
Shearwater Journeys has some 14 trips on offer during September!
Like a gigantic mixing bowl of warm water, swirling cold water currents, bubbles, and eddies are making this year very special. Seabirds seldom found along the Central California Coast, are turning up. These GUADALUPE MURRELETS, above, are one of the most prized of all murrelet species. We may not see this species in our area again for another decade!
Get out there! 
Image, courtesy and copyright, Steve Howell. 
LAYSAN ALBATROSS, above,  is not easily found — there is no reliable time of year for this species. 
However, recent trips have recorded a number of these gorgeous albatrosses, especially off Bodega Bay. 
All Laysan images, courtesy and copyright, Steve Howell. 
The year 2014 saw a huge influx of BROWN BOOBIES, such as this one on the Half Moon Bay weather buoy. Their displacement continues this season. 

STORM-PETRELS which were virtually absent last fall, have been showing up in good numbers on some trips. 
Image, courtesy and copyright, Debi Shearwater.
The image below is a mixed species flock as seen on our August 2, 2015 Half Moon Bay trip. 
BODEGA BAY has been the main stomping grounds for the vast majority of storm-petrels.
We once recorded a record breaking flock of 12,350 mixed species flock! 
True to my prediction and post, STREAMING SHEARWATERS, SCHOOLING FISH & COLD WATER, rafts of thousands of storm-petrels were found near Cordell Bank within days of that post. 
Image, courtesy and copyright, Will Brooks. 
 Within those flocks, one or two WEDGE-RUMPED STORM-PETRELS were found, August 21-23, 2015!
This species has not been found in our area since the early 1980's!
There are fewer than a dozen records for the ABA area of this species!
You may recall that Point Blue banded two individual WEDGE-RUMPED STORM-PETRELS at the Farallon Islands this past spring!
Sure enough — they are out there — somewhere — a needle in a haystack, but you could get lucky!
Image, courtesy and copyright, Dave Pereksta. 
Thousands SOOTY SHEARWATERS are following the cold water streams. 
Image, above, at Bodega Bay. 
Image courtesy and copyright, Steve Howell. 
HAWAIIAN PETREL, above, was seen on one Bodega Bay trip during August this season.
There are September records, and one of these rare petrel may well be spotted again. 
We have recorded HAWAIIAN PETRELS at Monterey, Half Moon, and Bodega on previous trips. 
Image, courtesy and copyright, Scott Terrill. 
In addition to the seabirds, marine mammals have been very present and exciting. 
BLUE WHALE, above, is not as abundant as the HUMPBACK WHALES this season, but they are around. 
Image, courtesy and copyright, Dave Pereksta. 
BAIRD'S BEAKED WHALE, spyhopping, above. This large and rarely seen toothed whale was spotted on our Monterey Albacore trip last year, and again, this year at Bodega Bay. 
Image, courtesy & copyright, Steve Howell.  
Somewhere, "out there," is likely a mega-rare seabird, a WEDGE-TAILED SHEARWATER, above, and/or a
These warm water species are very possible. 
We did find a Red-billed Tropicbird on our September 21, 2014 Half Moon Bay trip.
 Both images, courtesy and copyright, Dave Pereksta.
Tropical whales may show up, for instance, last year we saw a DWARF/PYGMY SPERM WHALE.
COOK'S PETREL, below.
Image, courtesy and copyright, Scott Terrill. 
Early fall, 2009, record numbers of COOK'S PETRELS were found on Shearwater Journeys' trips from Monterey. 
I strongly encouraged everyone to get on a trip — saying what we were seeing was unprecedented —
COOK'S PETRELS within reach of a one day pelagic from Monterey —
Many birders heeded that advise and had splendid views of Cook's Petrels.
Some birders, decided to "wait for next year."
Well, next year came and went, and the next, and the next, and the next. 
So, here we are — some six years later — and it has not happened, again. 
Birders lamented: I should have followed your advise.
Oh, well. 

MORAL OF THE STORY:
WHEN EVENTS ARE UNPRECEDENTED — GET OUT THERE!

My good friend, Todd McGrath, has a ball cap with this embroidered on the back:
NO WHINERS!
There is no excuse for not getting on a September pelagic trip! 
Next year: LA NINA is already being forecast!

Finally, the BBC & PBS were so certain that Monterey Bay would produce marine life that they filmed, live: BIG BLUE LIVE. Part 2 is tonight, and Part 3 tomorrow night. 

UPCOMING TRIPS & LEADERS:


SEP 5, SAT: MONTEREY with Nick Levendosky, Jennifer Green, Clay Kempf, Mel Preston, Tim Miller, Alex Rinkert
SEP 6, SUN: HALF MOON BAY with Gerry McChesney, Jim Holmes, Will Brooks, Steve Tucker. SOLD OUT.
SEP 8, TUE: MONTEREY BAY with Rick Fournier, Christian Schwarz
SEP 9, WED: MONTEREY BAY with Tim Miller, Nick Levendosky, Christian Schwarz, Mel Preston
SEP 10, THU: MONTEREY BAY with Nick Levendosky, Christian Schwarz, Jennifer Green
SEP 11, FRI: MONTEREY BAY with Mary Gustafson, Jennifer Green, Christian Schwarz
SEP 12, SAT: MONTEREY ALBACORE with Scott Terrill, Linda Terrill, Nick Levendosky, Mary Gustafson, Rick Fournier. SOLD OUT. Wait list, email Debi.
SEP 13, SUN: MONTEREY BAY with Mary Gustafson, Chris Wood, Jessie Barry, Clay Kempf. Debi's Birthday Trip!
SEP 15, TUE: HALF MOON BAY with Mary Gustafson, Chris Wood, Jessie Barry, Tim Miller, Marisa Ortega-Welch SOLD OUT
SEP 16, WED: MONTEREY BAY with Tim Miller, Chris Wood, Jessie Barry, Annie Schmidt
SEP 18, FRI: BODEGA BAY with Nick Levendosky, Peter Pyle, Abe Borker, Steve Tucker, Steve Howell. SOLD OUT. Wait list, email Debi.
SEP 20, SUN: HALF MOON BAY with Gerry McChesney, Nick Levendosky, Scott Terrill, Linda Terrill, Steve Hampton
SEP 25, FRI: MONTEREY BAY with Rick Fournier, TBA.
SEP 26, SAT: MONTEREY BAY with Scott Terrill, Linda Terrill, TBA.
SEP 27, SUN: MONTEREY BAY with Nick Levendosky, Alex Rinkert.
OCT 3, SAT: MONTEREY BAY with Tim Miller, Dena Spatz, Jennifer Green
OCT 4, SUN: HALF MOON BAY with Steve Hampton, Will Brooks, Annie Schmidt, Christian Schwarz
OCT 10, SAT: MONTEREY BAY with Todd McGrath, David Vander Pluym, Lauren Harter, Jennifer Green
OCT 11, SUN: HALF MOON BAY with Todd McGrath, Jim Holmes, Tim Miller, Will Brooks, David Vander Pluym, Lauren Harter, Marissa Ortega-Welch
OCT 18, SUN: FARALLON ISLANDS GREAT WHITE SHARK & SEABIRDS with Peter Pyle, Gerry McChesney, Jim Holmes, Steve Tucker

Do whatever you can to get on a boat trip this month — call in sick, take a personal holiday — but, get out there! And, October — well, the Southern Hemisphere seabirds have departed for the next breeding season. That thins the shearwaters out quite a bit, making is so much easier to spot mega-rarities. October mega-rare seabirds are one story for the book — but, that's another blog post!
LIVING THE SALT LIFE,
DEBI SHEARWATER
debi@shearwaterjourneys.com