Sunday June 25, 2006
We made history with our June 25 trip. For starters the trip was a
go. Last June we had to cancel due to undersubscription. The previous
year we had a boat malfunction that sent us back to the harbor an
hour into our trip. These were the first and only times either of
those occurrences have happened on any of our seabird trips. We broke
the June jinx.
The marine layer was dense but high enough off the water for favorable
viewing conditions. The water was greasy calm and the wind nonexistent.
Good for seabirders but the lack of any wind is not so great for seabirds
that thrive on a good breeze.
More history was made in that this was our only 1 shearwater species
day ever. The one species we did see we saw in the tens of thousands.
SOOTY SHEARWATERS were spread across the water in large rafts
that at times stretched to the horizon. A sight I've seen other times
but one that never fails to impress.
A couple of BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS came in to investigate the
gulls gathered at the stern for the popcorn chum when all of a sudden
a flying TUFTED PUFFIN, in full alternate plumage, circled
the boat a few times.
the radio we listened to whale watch boats out on the bay looking
for well, something to watch. They found only one HUMPBACK WHALE,
whereas over Cabrillo Canyon we came upon four. Three of these were
engaged in some cooperative vertical lunge feeding. The whales exploded
out of the water with gaping maws and throat pleats billowing out.
Anchovies were making desperate leaps of the whales' mouths.
We witnessed several of these vertical lunge feeds which kept the
photographers on their toes. Where would they come exploding out of
the water next? All in all an excellent show!
During this time with the whales we had another dozen or so albatrosses
all around the boat.
leaving the whales one of our chummers, a visiting Kenyan and PRBO
intern John Musina, on his first boat trip ever, said he thought he'd
seen two more puffins. We turned the boat around and sure enough there
they were. A pair of resplendent TUFTED PUFFINS. From Monterey
Birds (Roberson 2002) "Tufted Puffin is a scarce year round
visitor to Monterey Bay and offshore waters. There is a concentration
of records during fall, possibly due to more coverage rather than
to more birds. In a typical fall season about 4-8 puffins are reported
from organized pelagic trips, and never more than 1-2 per trip." More
history being made.
Coincidently we debuted the new Monterey Seabird caps today and these
are adorned with an embroidered Tufted Puffin. Perhaps we should have
used a Wandering Albatross instead!
Two RHINOCEROS AUKLETS, several COMMON MURRES and the
PIGEON GUILLEMOTS seen off Cannery Row were our only other
Marine mammals were scarce. In addition to the Humpbacks we had a
single female NORTHERN FUR SEAL and the expected CALIFORNIA SEA LION,
HARBOR SEAL and SEA OTTER making this the first trip ever that saw
no dolphin species! They were all over the place two days prior.
Roger Wolfe for Monterey