Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August 28, 2011 trip report

Shearwater Journeys reported a GREAT-WINGED PETREL on their Monterey Bay trip two days prior to our outing. When word got out we had a last minute rush on signups so there was the expectation that we would look for it in the same area it was reported from.

That was just fine with me. I don’t need an excuse to spend more time in Santa Cruz County waters.  Even Don Roberson was willing to venture outside Monterey County, a Great-winged would be a state bird for him.

We were psyched up as we pulled away from the dock but all in all it was a tough day as far as visibility was concerned. It was down to less than a quarter mile for much of the trip and at times it was difficult to tell where the horizon was. The gray ocean met the gray sky seamlessly.

Spotter Tim Amaral's ablilty to speak Japanese finally came in handy. I think this was the first time that we have had a pair of birders who hailed from that country.

I have to say I don’t recall a trip at this time of year having these kind of species totals. We saw only one each of BULLER’S and PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS but we did see thousands of SOOTY SHEARWATERS. Skipper Richard Ternullo termed this trip the Sooty Shearwater Study Tour.

(photos by Tom Grey, copyright) 

Sooty Shearwater

Miraculously we did manage to find a flock of storm-petrels near Cabrillo Canyon and picked some BLACK STORM-PETRELS out from amongst the many ASHY STORM-PETRELS and a bonus was a single FORK-TAILED STORM-PETREL that approached the boat quite closely.

Jaegers were in short supply with only a few POMARINES for the day.

We had some nice views of ARCTIC , COMMON and ELEGANT TERNS and saw lots of both RED and RED-NECKED PHALAROPES.

Red Phalarope

We stopped the boat for the largest OCEAN SUNFISH/MOLA MOLA I’ve ever seen.

We covered a little more than 70 miles total. Here is the map of our route:

Thanks go out to our spotters Matthew Dodder, Bruce Elliot, Don Roberson, Tim Amaral and to Alex Rinkert for chumming. All photos Tom Grey copyright

eBird report by Don Roberson:

Monterey Bay pelagic (SCZ Co.), Santa Cruz, US-CA Aug 28, 2011 9:50 AM - 1:10 PM Protocol: Traveling 25.0 mile(s) Comments:     aboard 'Pt Sur Clipper with R. Ternullo, skipper; leaders R. Wolfe, M. Dodder, T. Amaral, B. Elliott, and me; chummer Alex Rinkert; with Glen Tepke, Peter White, Kris Dunlap, Tom Edell, Tom Grey, Maggie Smith, Kenneth Peterson, Stan Snyder, Richard Norton, Richard & Pamela Clark, and more. Most of day very foggy -- drizzly wet fog into early afternoon but otherwise very calm seas with some swell, visibility often poor, especially on SCZ portion of trip. Route was Monterey harbor to Pt. Pinos and WSW to 8 mi W of Pt. Joe, then NW into SCZ portion of bay, checking Soquel Canyon and "the fingers", then east back to middle of Bay and east to Salinas R. mouth, back along nearshore coast to harbor. This is one of 3 checklists for the trip: inshore portions (both a.m. & p.m.), Monterey Co. portion >2 nmi offshore (both a.m. & p.m.), and Santa Co. portion at midday.  

(Santa Cruz county, Monterey inshore, Monterey offshore)

Common Loon 0,1,0
Black-footed Albatross  3, 0, 8
Northern Fulmar  6,1, 7
Sooty Shearwater  15000, 300, 5000     huge flock after flock of Sooties sitting on flat calm sea in the fog; I guesstimated avg 300-600/flock and 30+ flocks, plus many additional birds. So 15K seemed reasonable
Buller's Shearwater 0, 0, 1
Pink-footed Shearwater 0, 0, 1
Brandt’s Cormorant 0, 500, 1
Pelagic Cormorant 0, 2, 0
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel  1,0,0
Ashy Storm-Petrel  300
Black Storm-Petrel  20
Brown Pelican  1, 0, 5
Least Sandpiper 0,0,1
Red-necked Phalarope  50, 10, 150
Red Phalarope  100,0, 150
Sabine’s Gull 0,0,4
Heermann’s Gull 0, 20, 5
Western Gull  100, 100
California Gull  10, 20
Arctic Tern 0,0,3
Common/Arctic Tern  0, 2
Elegant Tern  1, 5, 1
Pomarine Jaeger 3
    mid-Bay, far offshore
Common Murre  500, 50, 300
Pigeon Guillemot 4, 0, 1 about 6 nmi W of Pt. Pinos
Cassin's Auklet  10, 1, 10
Rhinoceros Auklet  40, 0, 20

Humpback Whale
Dall’s Porpoise
Harbor Porpoise
California Sea Lion
Elephant Seal
Harbor Seal

Mola Mola/Ocean Sunfish
Egg Yolk Jellies

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