Monterey Seabirds
October 3, 2004 Seabird Cruise Trip Report

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Click on photos below to see enlarged photos.

Sunday October 3, 2004

Our nice sized group of 25 (including leaders) got underway under unseasonably foggy conditions. Whatever became of Indian Summer? Oh well, seabirders are some of the hardiest folks around and a little fog doesn't deter any of us.

The coast guard jetty is now crowded with CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS along with many BRANDT'S CORMORANTS. On the outer edge we also find a few BLACK TURNSTONES and a single RUDDY as well. A foursome of EARED GREBES works the kelpline off the Monterey Bay Aquarium and we also see GREAT EGRETS, a GREAT BLUE HERON and a WILLET perched atop the kelp off Cannery Row. Here we also find our trip SEA OTTER and our first COMMON MURRES.

ELEGANT and CASPIAN TERNS fly by. Passing by Pt. Pinos we get the chum going and soon have a contingent of WESTERN, HEERMANN'S and CALIFORNIA GULLS in tow. Once we're past the point and heading out into the bay we begin seeing SOOTY SHEARWATERS and soon after we pick up some PINK-FOOTED as well. On the whole shearwater numbers are down compared to two weeks ago. They are now on their way to Chile or New Zealand. To see the migration of tagged Sooties from Monterey Bay check out the seaturtle.org website.

Flesh-footed Shearwater, photo by Jeff PoklenOn the day we will find four species of shearwaters, only a smattering of BULLER'S but we also manage to find a very cooperative FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER sitting on the water, then flying but returning to sit on the water much to the delight of the photographers on board.

RHINOCEROS AUKLETS are numerous and we find several rafts of them particularly on the edge of the Monterey Canyon. These conditions with the overcast skies and land not visible are what our skipper Richard Ternullo calls fallout weather. We see several landbirds offshore who have lost their way over the bay. On the day we record 3 species of icterids--WESTERN MEADOWLARK and both RED-WINGED and BREWER'S BLACKBIRD. We also see a TOWNSEND'S and YELLOW WARBLER.

We come to an area with a concentration of 12 HUMPBACK WHALES and RISSO'S, PACIFIC-WHITE SIDED and NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE DOLPHINS. There is also a lot of seabird activity amongst them along with our first of 3 POMARINE JAEGERS.

In Santa Cruz county waters we come upon a scattering flock of storm-petrels, mostly ASHY but there are also numerous BLACK STORM PETRELS but only 1 LEAST. They seem hesitant to rest on the water and on the whole appear quite restless and then disperse altogether. A longliner cruises by and this attracts 4 BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS who come in very close to the boat for some of the squid we're using as chum. We even get to hear them vocalize when fighting over the squid.

Killer Whale mother and calf, photo by Les ChibanaHeading back toward Monterey we pick up several of the fastest cetaceans on earth--DALL'S PORPOISES and they ride the bow for yet another photo opportunity. Then we get a call over the radio and off we go. A pod of 6 KILLER WHALES with one small calf are en route somewhere and we manage to cross paths with them. There is one large male who is easily recognizable because his dorsal fin is flopped all the way over to the left.

The basking ELEPHANT SEAL and cruising HARBOR SEALS seen earlier bring our marine mammal total up to 10 for the day!

Off Pt. Pinos on the way in to the harbor we pick up a PARASITIC JAEGER and off Cannery Row we find several PIGEON GUILLEMOTS and a couple of PELAGIC CORMORANTS to make the day complete.


Roger Wolfe for Monterey Seabirds

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Photos copyright © 2004 Jeff Poklen and Les Chibana, all rights reserved.

Last updated November 18, 2004