Monterey Seabirds
August 23, 2008 12-hour Offshore Seabird Trip Report

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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 to investigate.

Laysan Albatross photo by Todd EasterlaAfter 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 to Richard.

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

Wedge-tailed Shearwater photo by Todd Easterla"There 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 the Cassin's.

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.


Also seen:

BROWN PELICAN
HEERMANN'S GULL
WESTERN GULL
CALIFORNIA GULL

CALIFORNIA SEA LION
NORTHERN FUR SEAL
SEA OTTER

For additional photos, see Jeff Poklen's photo gallery for the August 23 and August 24 trips.

Roger Wolfe for Monterey Seabirds

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Last updated August 29, 2008