THE PEAK of PELAGIC BIRDING
Hundreds of birders from Australia, to India to France, aged 9 to 92 joined Shearwater Journeys during the month of September on pelagic birding trips departing from Monterey Bay and Half Moon Bay. Fourteen pelagic trips were on offer and thirteen of those operated. The sold out September 4 Half Moon Bay trip was canceled by the captain due to gale force winds. We tallied 11 species of procellariiformes (albatross, petrel, shearwater and storm-petrel); Red and Red-necked Phalaropes; Pomarine, Parasitic, and Long-tailed Jaegers; South Polar Skua; Sabine's Gulls; Arctic, Common, Elegant, and Forster's Terns; and 8 species of alcids! Marine mammals included: sea otter; 5 species of pinnipeds; and a whopping 15 species of cetaceans! Ever thought of doing every trip we offer during the month of September? (It has been done!) Contact Debi Shearwater for a "deal" for 2017!
Nothing says, "Monterey Bay" like a breaching HUMPBACK WHALE & SOOTY SHEARWATER!
Ed Harper, copyright, captured this momentous image.
Both species were recording on all of our September trips.
BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES showed up on every one of our September trips.
The dreamy and beautiful BULLER'S SHEARWATER did not put in much of an appearance until recent weeks. Fishermen call these birds, "tuna birds" because they are closely associated with ALBACORE, a type of tuna. In recent years, albacore have changed their migration pattern, skipping California and heading north to areas of Oregon and Washington. Indeed, these shearwaters, along with FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATERS, ARCTIC & COMMON TERNS, most of the jaegers and SOUTH POLAR SKUA were hanging with the albacore some 70 miles off Washington. That situation began changing in the past 10 days. These seabirds are now dispersing southward to our area.
NORTHERN FUR SEAL is a bonus pinniped which we often find in clear water offshore.
They can be told by their very long, blond whiskers and long ears.
NORTHERN/PACIFIC FULMARS were observed in on only a few trips.
These were likely individuals that summered in our area because late fall and winter is the "fulmar season."
A PARASITIC JAEGER chasing a lone ASHY STORM-PETREL was captured by Mark Rauzon, copyright. I cannot recall ever noting this behavior on past trips.
Perhaps, this is one reason why Ashy Storm-Petrels are usually found in flocks!
PARASITIC JAEGERS were observed on most trips.
This is the species of jaeger most frequently seen from shore.
Many highly overcast days send passerines to the ship. We tallied quite a list of warblers and sparrows, including this TOWNSEND'S WARBLER sitting amongst the anchovies we used outside of the national marine sanctuary boundary.
On the other hand, some mornings were crystal clear and we enjoyed sunshine throughout the day.
MONTEREY HARBOR, above.
PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS, another southern hemisphere breeder, was found on every single trip.
The cherished SABINE'S GULL were absent on some trips, but abundant on others— one trip recorded hundreds of these beauties.
SOOTY SHEARWATERS were found on all trips, whereas BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATER numbers fluctuated. They arrived at Monterey Bay in late August, headed north to at least Half Moon Bay, and then seemed to make a U-turn with most heading south of Monterey Bay.
A single HAWAIIAN PETREL was spotted and seen by only a few very keen birders on the September 18 Shearwater Journeys' Half Moon Bay pelagic trip at the Pioneer Canyon.
Only 70 hours later and 22 miles away, observers at the Farallon Islands recorded the first-ever HAWAIIAN PETREL for that location. It is thought that this species moves off our coastline using high pressure systems. Such a system was in place on September 16th!
Image by Scott Terrill, copyright.
September was an incredible month for seabirds and marine mammals! I've barely touched on the mammals, though. That's another blog post.
We have four trips scheduled for October which is also an excellent time.
Many of the southern hemisphere breeders will depart while winter species will begin showing up.
New arrivals could include: more fulmars; Short-tailed and Flesh-footed Shearwaters; and Ancient Murrelets. A number of mega-rare seabirds have turned up in past years, including Short-tailed and Layman Albatrosses; Streaked, Manx, Great, and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters; and Great-winged Petrel.
UPCOMING PELAGIC TRIPS
SAT. OCT 1 MONTEREY BAY with Nick Levendosky, Alex Rinkert Christian Schwarz, Jim Holmes & Debi Shearwater
SUN. OCT 2 HALF MOON BAY with Steve Tucker, Jim Holmes, Steve Hampton, Debi Shearwater
SUN. OCT 8 MONTEREY BAY with Alex Rinkert, Tim Miller, Clay Kempf, Debi Shearwater
SUN. OCT 16 MONTEREY BAY with Nick Levendosky, Alex Rinkert, Debi Shearwater
Spaces available on all trips
Email Debi: firstname.lastname@example.org
All of our trips are reported in eBird using pelagic protocol
Many thanks to the September leaders:
NICK LEVENDOSKY, ALEX RINKERT, MARY GUSTAFSON, STEVE HAMPTON, RUSS BRADLEY, CHRISTIAN SCHWARZ, RICK FOURNIER, SCOTT TERRILL, LINDA TERRILL, DAVID WHIMPFHEIMER, ROB FOWLER, TODD MCGRATH, GERRY MCCHESNEY, HANNAH NEVINS, DAVE PEREKSTA, STEVE TUCKER, JIM HOLMES, ABE BORKER, TIM MILLER, CLAY KEMPF, DENA SPATZ
LIVING THE SALT LIFE,