Monterey Seabirds
August 28, 2005 Seabird Cruise Trip Report

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Sunday August 28, 2005 Offshore Trip

The flag waving in the breeze is not what I want to see as we get underway in the predawn twilight Sunday morning. Our intrepid group settles in for a short snooze on the long trip out of the Monterey Bay in search of offshore migrants and hoped for rarities.

Last year's trip we enjoyed greasy calm condition where we could easily locate the line of convergence where the water temperature breaks and find the murrelets that like to gather there. The wind today is not going to be conducive to that.

We stop briefly to view a few HUMPBACK WHALES and both NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE and RISSO'S DOPLHINS then proceed on our way offshore. In the first light we see many SOOTY SHEARWATERS arcing by and soon a few PINK-FOOTS are mixed in with them. We don't see any BULLER'S SHEARWATERS until we've moved well out of the bay.

Sooty Shearwater, photo by Jeff PoklenBuller's Shearwater, photo by Jeff Poklen

An uncooperative ASHY STORM-PETREL flies by as do flocks of RED-NECKED PHALAROPES.

Our route today takes us southwest of Pt. Pinos passing the Sur Ridge and proceeding out to the Shepard Meander where the Monterey Sea Canyon doubles back in a horseshoe bend. From there we head back to Pt. Pinos visiting the 1500-fathom spot en route. To see map of the canyon go to the Submarine Integrated Monitoring Network (SIMoN) Submarine Canyons Maps & Graphs web page.

Approaching the Sur Ridge a flock of seven ARTIC TERNS catches our boat and passes us. A second flock is seen in the distance and we have to settle with calling them "COMMIC TERNS".

Moving into the blue water, sightings drop off dramatically as they often do but a few LONG-TAILED JAEGERS that we come upon is a big score for some of our out-of-state visitors.

Before reaching the Shepard Meander we spot a blow and find a BLUE WHALE and within the hour we add two FIN WHALES to the day.

Once we've reached the meander and turn and head back to shore a pod of SHORT-BEAKED COMMON DOLPHINS puts in an appearance along with a couple of NORTHERN FUR SEALS.

As for birds, we aren't seeing any. An hour, two hours pass, I feel like I'm on an East or Gulf Coast pelagic. Finally a couple of birds on the water appear and we double back to find two SOUTH POLAR SKUAS.

We reach the 1500-fathom spot and start seeing Sooties again. Approaching the bay their numbers increase and attract a POMARINE JAEGER and later we find a PARASITIC to achieve a Skua Slam for the day.

As for alcids we have seen more CASSIN'S AUKLETS offshore than we have on our recent bay outings. RHINOCEROS AUKLETS have been few and far between but one seen forty miles out was a surprise.

Chumming off Pt. Pinos produces many BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS. Back in the harbor we find the summering female HARLEQUIN DUCK with her two SURF SCOTER escorts.

Thanks go out to our fearless leaders Don Roberson, Dan Singer, Todd Easterla and Richard Ternullo. Also to chummers Mike Tyner from BSOL and Tanner Easterla.

Also seen:

Brown Pelican
Brandt's Cormorant
Heermann's Gull
Western Gull
California Gull
Elegant Tern
Common Murre
Pigeon Guillemot

California Sea Lion
Sea Otter


Roger Wolfe for Monterey Seabirds

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Photos copyright © 2005 Jeff Poklen, all rights reserved.

Last updated August 31, 2005