Monterey Seabirds
May 15, 2005 Seabird Cruise Trip Report

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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 GULL.

Yellow-billed loon, photo by Jeff PoklenJust 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.

Pomarine Jaeger, photo by Jeff PoklenPOMARINE 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 JAEGERS.

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.

Also seen:

Western Gull
California Gull
Eared Grebe
Surf Scoter
Caspian Tern

See Don Roberson's website for additional photos from this trip.

Roger Wolfe for Monterey Seabirds

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Photos copyright © 2005 Jeff Poklen, all rights reserved.

Last updated August 17, 2005