Monterey Seabirds
March 14, 2004 Seabird Cruise Trip Report

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Sunday March 14, 2004

Short-tailed Shearwater, photo by Roger WolfeConditions for our March 14th trip could not have been better. The previous week had seen record-breaking temperatures up and down the Northern California coast. Seas were Beaufort 2, water temperature 55 and the high for the day was in the mid 70's onshore. Late winter and early spring can often have more favorable conditions than late spring and summer when the fog can be unrelenting.

Just out of the harbor we cruised along the breakwater, finding several BLACK TURNSTONES and 1 RUDDY TURNSTONE.

Off Wharf #2 we found our first PIGEON GUILLEMOT. There were several COMMON LOONS and PELAGIC CORMORANTS about. The breakwater was crowded with BRANDT'S CORMORANTS, some of them displaying and carrying nesting material. I'm always amazed that these birds are tenacious enough to drive the CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS off the breakwater and onto a floating dock beside it.

Along Cannery Row we found some PACIFIC LOONS and had nice comparative looks at CLARK'S and WESTERN GREBES. We headed over to Cypress Point and Carmel Canyon.

Arriving on the southern edge of the Monterey Canyon we found our first of 4 PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS. We visited a boat that was longlining in this vicinity and here we had quite a concentration of BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS (9) feeding on the bycatch. We could actually hear one of the albatross right next to the boat vocalizing as it battled the gulls and fulmars for its meal. Yes, NORTHERN FULMARS were still present in good numbers as were BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES.

We enjoyed some good seabirding in the vicinity of Soquel Canyon. Shearwater species have been in short supply this winter so it was nice to see 2 SOOTY SHEARWATERS in addition to a single SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATER that paddled right up to the stern as if demanding anchovies. Sitting on the water, he stuck close to the boat while we went over the finer points of separating sooty from short-tailed. Lots of camera activity on this bird.

At some point our chummer Jonathan Carpenter came up to me to report he was feeling queasy like he was going to be sick, as he was on our last outing. Experiment number two was underway. Out of my backpack I procured a Relief Band. I recently purchased two of these in hopes I might be able do something to allay the effects of seasickness on our participants. I strapped one on his wrist, turned on the electric pulse and set off the stopwatch on my watch. Within 12 minutes Jonathan reported that he felt much better, no longer queasy. He kept it on for the rest of the trip and felt fine. If you're interested in the band, check out the AVWeb article about the Relief Band.

Other birds of interest were quite a few offshore; migrating FORSTER'S TERNS and a single RED-THROATED LOON circled the boat quite a ways out. We also saw 1 RED and 2 RED-NECKED PHALAROPES and 1 POMARINE JAEGER. Alcid numbers were up from last month on COMMON MURRES and RHINOCEROS AUKLETS but only one CASSIN'S AUKLET.

Marine Mammals included 10 northward-bound GRAY WHALES and a pod of LONG-BEAKED COMMON DOLPHINS.

Nothing too out of the ordinary for local seabirders but the guy from Florida out here for his first time tallied 17 lifers!


Species seen:

Pacific Loon
Common Loon
Red-throated Loon
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Black-footed Albatross
Northern Fulmar
Pink-footed Shearwater
Sooty Shearwater
Short-tailed Shearwater
Pomarine Jaeger
Brown Pelican
Brandt's Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Surf Scoter
Bonaparte's Gull
Heermann's Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Mew Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Black-legged Kittiwake
Forster's Tern
Common Murre
Pigeon Guillemot
Rhinoceros Auklet
Cassin's Auklet
Black Turnstone
Ruddy Turnstone
Red Phalarope
Red-necked Phalarope
Great Egret

Gray Whale
Long-beaked Common Dolphin
California Sea Lion
California Sea Otter


Roger Wolfe for Monterey Seabirds

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Photo copyright © 2004 Roger Wolfe, all rights reserved.

Last updated May 9, 2004