Monterey Seabirds
August 12, 2007 Seabird Cruise Trip Report

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Sunday August 12, 2007

The stripes on the flag at the end of the wharf are horizontal this morning; like the previous day it looks as though we'll be dealing with the northwest wind. No worries though, as our skipper Richard Ternullo has more than thirty years' experience on the Monterey Bay and has a plan for our day at sea.

We get underway and start seeing marine mammals as soon as the bowline is undone. A SOUTHERN SEA OTTER displays tool using abilities by pounding a mollusk on a rock balanced on his chest.

A PIGEON GUILLEMOT flies under the wharf where it likely has a nest.

Numerous CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS have returned to the jetty where they lie on the rocks in close contact with one another. BRANDT'S CORMORANTS have now relegated the top of the jetty back to the sea lions now that their young have fledged. We find a single BLACK TURNSTONE at the end of the jetty and a few BROWN PELICANS.

As always, we stop along historic Cannery Row to point out PELAGIC CORMORANTS and our first COMMON MURRES. We then make a hard right turn and start on a northern heading. We're pointing out some RED-NECKED PHALAROPES when spotter Fritz Steurer calls out, "HORNED PUFFIN!" Too bad it's a flyby but we do see that it is a white-faced adult. There are still some around for the summer after an incredible, atypical spring that saw dozens of HOPU around the Monterey Bay.

Pink-footed Shearwater, photo by Jeff PoklenThere is a lull in the action after that. We cover a lot of water and as we come to the Soquel Canyon we enter a low-lying bank of fog. We look up and see blue sky but on either side of the boat the visibility has shrunk to maybe 20 feet. We're birding by Braille now. In the mist we find our first flocks of SOOTY SHEARWATERS sitting on the water.

We finally break out the fog and see that we are now off of Santa Cruz. Moving north toward Davenport the wind picks up and so does the shearwater activity. PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS and soon a few BULLER'S are added to the mix.

My nephew Kevin is on board as our chummer. He could care less about the birds he doesn't even have any bins so he isn't distracted and keeps the popcorn and anchovies going and the WESTERN, HEERMANN'S and CALIFORNIA GULLS in tow.

Black-footed Albatross, photo by Jeff Poklen"Chum harder," I chide him, "Where are our albatrosses?"

"It's not my fault," he replies, but when the first BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS comes to the chum he takes the credit.

The chumming also brings in a few photogenic POMARINE JAEGERS but only a couple of PARASITIC JAEGERS. SABINE'S GULLS stay in the distance except for one that comes in close for some popcorn.

Two ARCTIC TERNS fly by in the distance off our stern but the ELEGANT TERNS pass right over our heads.

We find only a smattering of RHINOCEROS AUKLETS both in flight and on the water.

The whitecaps are now out in force but we still manage to find the blows of several HUMPBACK WHALES and one of these comes in quite close to the boat to elicit some ooohs and aaahs from the newbies. A small pod of PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED DOLPHINS comes to us and they ride our bow for a good ten minutes. I for one never tire of looking down into the blowholes of dolphins on the bow or of seabirding in the Monterey Bay.

For additional photos, see Jeff Poklen's photo gallery for this trip.

Roger Wolfe for Monterey Seabirds

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Photos copyright © 2007 Jeff Poklen, all rights reserved.

Last updated August 15, 2007