Sunday May 15, 2005
Driving down to Monterey from Soquel I was exasperated to find
the fog thick and close to the deck. What a difference a day makes.
The fog is one of the things we come to accept in living on the coast.
The upside is that it keeps the temperature comfortable, the downside
is it makes seabirding even more challenging but not enough to keep
us from finding some good birds!
Inside the harbor we spot the wintering pair of HARLEQUIN DUCKS
and our skipper Richard Ternullo does an incredible job of maneuvering
the Pt. Sur Clipper through the moored boats so the photographers
on board can get a close up shot in good light.
The breakwater is covered with nesting BRANDT'S CORMORANTS
and we are treated to some excellent looks at them displaying. Hard
to believe these birds have succeeded in usurping the CALIFORNIA SEA
LIONS from the tops of the rocks. Here we also see a single HEERMANN'S
out the harbor we pick up COMMON MURRE, PIGEON GUILLEMOT,
PELAGIC CORMORANT and both PACIFIC and COMMON LOON
and then we hit paydirt near Otter Point where we refind the juvenal
YELLOW-BILLED LOON. Richard thinks this is the same one he
first reported back in March.
After passing Pt. Pinos we see our first of many SOOTY SHEARWATERS
along with an occasional PINK-FOOTED. These birds all look
a bit ratty in their post migratory molt. Other procellarids seen
include numerous BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS and a single flyby
MANX SHEARWATER makes our day.
JAEGERS put on quite a show with one individual circling the boat
and then settling on the water at the stern to dine on some of the
sardines our chummers Taylor and Tanner Easterla are tossing. Photographer
Jeff Poklen remarks that in twenty years of seabirding this is the
most cooperative POJA he's ever seen. We also see a few PARASTIC
Twenty miles west of Pt. Pinos we find some northward bound offshore
migrants like ARCTIC TERN and several SABINE'S GULL
along with a smattering of RED-NECKED PHALAROPES. Bonus birds
are 2 LEACH'S STORM-PETRELS.
Offshore alcids include both CASSIN'S and RHINOCEROS AUKLETS.
Marine mammals are a bust. We see a single RISSO'S DOLPHIN, which
is strange, as they are usually seen in large groups. Whale watch
boats on the bay experience similar luck in finding anything today.
Roberson's website for additional photos from this trip.
Roger Wolfe for Monterey