Saturday August 23, 2008
Under the cover of darkness we slip from the harbor and out to sea,
and by the time the sun illuminates the foggy sky we are well offshore.
The phantom arcs of SOOTY SHEARWATERS are our first sightings,
soon followed by their New Zealand cousins the BULLER'S SHEARWATERS.
Richard Ternullo spots two BLUE WHALES out the window of the top drive
and now all on board are wide awake and engaged. A small pod of RISSO'S
DOLPHINS puts in a brief appearance.
The pterodactyl-like calls of ELEGANT TERNS scream over our
heads and are heard throughout the day no matter how far offshore
we go. They are the only terns we see on the day. We had been hoping
to find some migrant Arctic or Common or heck even a "Commic" would
have been nice but such is not in the cards today. We do see flocks
of up to 40 SABINE'S GULLS.
Other vocalizations heard are those of COMMON MURRES calling
back and forth. Tight little flocks of RED-NECKED PHALAROPES
flit across the water.
Our initial course is westward but as the day progresses we take a
more northerly heading that takes us out of Monterey County but not
before finding a few NORTHERN FULMARS.
Thanks to our chummer Tanner Easterla we keep a flock of gulls at
our stern that in turn attract many BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS.
We begin seeing ASHY STORM-PETRELS here and there and decide
to lay down a fish oil slick to see what we can attract and within
minutes the first of three WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS flies in
sitting on the slick for a spell we get underway and as we are crossing
over Año Nuevo Canyon a LAYSAN ALBATROSS flies right
up our wake. There is a lot of commotion at the rail as cameras roll
and hoots go out.
The excitement ebbs when the Laysan flies off to sea. Todd Easterla
calls me over.
"Don't get too excited but I think I just saw something REALLY interesting",
and he whispers the name.
I rush to the top drive, "Don't go anywhere!" and whisper the name
Scurrying back to the stern, trying not to attract too much attention,
I dribble a bit of cod liver oil over the side and a toss in a handful
of anchovies too. A minute or two pass. Folks are watching me wondering
what's going on and thenů
it is!" Todd yells, "WEDGE-TAILED SHEARWATER."
The light morph bird crosses our wake and parallels the boat in its
distinctive flight style, similar to a Buller's Shearwater with nary
a wingbeat. We make sure all the photographers on board get a shot
at it. The word "Awesome" gets repeated over and over.
Southward we find some small storm-petrel flocks on the water and
find a few BLACK STORM-PETRELS and a single LEAST STORM-PETREL
I've neglected to mention our success in achieving the "Skua Slam"
with 3 SOUTH POLAR SKUAS, 2 LONG-TAILED, several POMARINES
and a few PARASITIC JAEGERS.
It is nice to see all the CASSIN'S AUKLETS (170 on the day).
RHINOCEROS AUKLETS are also seen but in fewer numbers than
Bow riding NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE DOLPHINS, PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED DOLPHINS
and DALL'S PORPOISE delight our bow riding seabirders.
Just when we think we are not going to see any HUMPBACK WHALES we
come across a mother and calf pair.
In that we left the harbor in the dark, we wrap up the day with PIGEON
GUILLEMOTS and PELAGIC CORMORANTS off Cannery Row and the
summering HARLEQUIN DUCK in the harbor.
Thanks go out to our spotters Todd Easterla, Dan Singer and Bruce
Elliot, our chummer Tanner Easterla and skipper Richard Ternullo.
CALIFORNIA SEA LION
NORTHERN FUR SEAL
For additional photos, see Jeff
Poklen's photo gallery for the August 23 and August 24 trips.
Roger Wolfe for Monterey