Saturday October 13, 2007
Dawn finds us well offshore. Our eighth grade chummers Tanner Easterla
and Max Baer get down to the business of attracting gulls to our stern.
Some of our 16 participants have been catching up on lost sleep and
are now stirred from the cabin by the excited cries of gulls.
Shearwaters soon appear and are curious as to what the gulls are attracted
to. Things have changed since our last outing. Now the PINK-FOOTED
SHEARWATERS outnumber the SOOTIES who must now be on the
return journey back to the nesting grounds in New Zealand. BULLER'S
SHEARWATERS are still plentiful but the most numerous of all the
tubenoses we find are NORTHERN FULMARS.
Offshore icterids include a WESTERN MEADOWLARK and curiously
a female BREWER'S BLACKBIRD.
few late SABINE'S GULLS are seen but only a couple come in
to sample the chum. Offshore we find several HUMPBACK WHALES and in
their midst are a good concentration of seabirds including our first
of 18 SOUTH POLAR SKUAS and some RED PHALAROPES. We
see numerous POMARINE JAEGERS but only single PARASITIC
and LONG-TAILED but that is good enough to complete the skua
Late in the morning, after motoring through a long birdless stretch
of ocean, we come upon a sizeable mixed pod of PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED
and NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE DOLPHINS. As is often the case we find many
seabirds in their midst including several BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS.
Our skipper Richard Ternullo is doing his best to stay in contact
with the dolphins. More than thirty years of experience has shown
him this is almost always a good way to find interesting seabirds.
Our spotters are busily sorting through shearwaters when Todd Easterla
utters those three words that bear so much weight on a pelagic birding
trip, "STOP THE BOAT!" I echo those words into the cabin and Richard
cuts the engines.
Spotter Tim Amaral replies, "There's a white-headed shearwater," and
Todd interrupts him shouting, "STREAKED SHEARWATER at 3 o'clock."
Rushing to the rail I'm lucky to get on the bird as it parallels the
boat heading toward 5 o'clock before it disappears into the trough
all too soon. (For photos see the following trip report.)
We get some fish oil in the water and anchovies overboard but the
bird does not return. Richard thinks we might find it by staying up
with the dolphins so that is what we do but the Streaked does not
return. We continue to push offshore. This trip was billed as an "albacore
grounds" trip but the hard water break is too far out for a day trip.
We do experience a gradual four degree change in water temperature
and start finding storm-petrels.
Over the side we toss an onion bag with mashed anchovies and mackerel
soaked in cod liver oil that we tow behind as we drift. Within three
minutes we are paid a visit by a LEACH'S STORM-PETREL and a
few scattered ASHIES. After a spell we restart the engines
to and start moving again. Tim is on the bow and spots a flyby BLACK
and a WILSON'S STORM-PETREL.
Offshore we also find 5 NORTHERN FUR SEALS before the time comes to
head back toward the Monterey Bay. En route we find a few CASSIN'S
AUKLETS and a single RHINOCEROS AUKLET. Our only FLESH-FOOTED
SHEARWATER flies around the boat giving everyone an excellent
Passing by Pt. Pinos there are a few COMMON MURRES and a
single uncooperative ANCIENT MURRELET that flies away before
we can get anyone on it.
Special thanks to Fritz Steurer for helping with the spotting and
to Ken Hashagen for coordinating the group from Sacramento Audubon.
For additional photos, see Jeff
Poklen's photo gallery for this trip and the October 14 trip.
Roger Wolfe for Monterey