Monday, October 17, 2011

Oct. 15 trip report

The table is set, the warm water break at Sur Ridge looks reachable and tempting on the sea surface temperature map. Only problem being the southeast wind has come up and now our windows are getting wet so we have to change course to keep from getting ourselves into an ugly situation.  Fortunately the sea is alive with seabirds
PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS are particularly numerous this morning outnumbering the SOOTIES by a wide margin. (photos copyright Blake Matheson, by permission only)
Pink-footed Shearwater
I’m glad we have so many spotters on board today because the tubenoses just keep coming. It is a lot of work to go through all the BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS and NORTHERN FULMARS and SOOTY, BULLER’S and three FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATERS.  A couple of SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATERS gives us five species of shearwaters for the day.

Buller's Shearwater

Several SOUTH POLAR SKUAS put on a good show. XANTUS’S MURRLELETS are less than cooperative, we manage a few flybys but never get any real good looks at them. More cooperative is the single TUFTED PUFFIN that we pull the boat right up to.

Tufted Puffin

Skeins of waterfowl migrating over the bay waters are comprised of NORTHERN SHOVELERS and NORTHERN PINTAILS.

On the marine mammal front are bow riding DALL’S PORPOISE, the first GRAY WHALE of the year and many RISSO’S DOLPHINS.
Risso's Dolphins

 Our trip next Sunday is a go but we still need more seabirders for our October 29th trip. Come join us in the hunt!

Here is the link to our trip track of nearly 70 miles traveled: - Google Maps

Ebird report by Blake Matheson: pelagic (inshore report below)

American Wigeon  4
Northern Shoveler  80
Northern Pintail  200
Surf Scoter  40
Pacific Loon  30
Common Loon  2
loon sp.  5
Eared Grebe  3
Black-footed Albatross  8
Northern Fulmar  50
Pink-footed Shearwater  1300
Flesh-footed Shearwater  4
Buller's Shearwater  30
Sooty Shearwater  450
Short-tailed Shearwater  1
Sooty/Short-tailed Shearwater  3
Brandt's Cormorant  10
Brown Pelican  25
Red-necked Phalarope  120
Red Phalarope  15
Sabine's Gull  5
Bonaparte's Gull  2
Heermann's Gull  200
Western Gull  1000
Western x Glaucous-winged Gull (hybrid)  1
California Gull  800
Herring Gull  1
Glaucous-winged Gull  10
Common Tern  1
South Polar Skua  6
Pomarine Jaeger  10
Parasitic Jaeger  1
jaeger sp.  1
Common Murre  100
Xantus's Murrelet  6
Cassin's Auklet  40
Rhinoceros Auklet  200
Tufted Puffin  1
Inshore report:
Northern Shoveler  100
Northern Pintail  50
Surf Scoter  50
Pacific Loon  25
Common Loon  2
loon sp.  1
Eared Grebe  10
Western/Clark's Grebe  1
Pink-footed Shearwater  5
Sooty Shearwater  10
Brandt's Cormorant  80
Double-crested Cormorant  2
Pelagic Cormorant  1
Brown Pelican  120
Great Egret  4
Snowy Egret  4
Black Oystercatcher  2
Black Turnstone  7
Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher  4
Red-necked Phalarope  15
Bonaparte's Gull  2
Heermann's Gull  120
Mew Gull  1
Western Gull  150
California Gull  200
Glaucous-winged Gull  4
Elegant Tern  8
Common Murre  100
Pigeon Guillemot  2
Cassin's Auklet  2
Rhinoceros Auklet  30
Rock Pigeon  30

Monday, October 3, 2011

 October 1 Trip Report
Xantus's Murrelet
 Text and photos by Blake Matheson copyright by permission only
Monterey Bay pelagic (MTY Co.), Monterey, US-CA
Oct 1, 2011 9:00 AM - 3:30 PM
Protocol: Traveling
30.0 mile(s)
Comments:     On the Sea Wolf II with Roger Wolfe for a charter by Sac Audubon and the Mt. Diablo and Yolo Chapters. Leaders Todd Easterla, Blake Matheson and Fritz Steurer also Jim Holmes, Terry Colborn and Mark Cudney. Captained by Richard Ternullo.
A beautiful temperate day with very easy seas throughout. After inshore course, headed west to app. 20 miles out and then southward to Sur Ridge in search of the water temperature break. We found the large Albacore fleet busy landing a glut of Tuna in 64 degree F water (57.6 in the harbor).  Trip notable for Skua slam, 12-15 (+) Xantus' Murrelets (all within the albacore zone, most fly-bys, but a couple approached at length and photographed) Flesh-footed Shearwater and a Greater White-fronted Goose at 20 miles+ offshore. Excellent views of 15-20 Northern Fur Seals,
Northern Fur Seal
sub adult bull Elephant Seal, large Mola Mola. No rorquals, but good views early of breaching Risso's Dolphin inshore and bow-riding Dall's Porpoise.
More truly exceptional was a view of Pacific Swordfish (Ternullo could not recall the last time he'd seen one on Mty Bay). But, the real highlight came late in the day. While passing Cypress Point around 2:30 or 3:00, Ternullo saw the near lateral spume of a great whale. It blew repeatedly and we approached. The water roiled. At first we saw what we believed were two sperm whales. Drawing closer it became clear, however, these were not two whales but one enormous bull, with the massive leading edge of its head emergent some distance from the caudal peduncle of its tail. At this point there was no question we were in the company of Physeter macrocephalus, and an enormous specimen at that. The maximum size of Sperm Whale bulls is apparently a topic of some controversy. The Nantucket Whaling Museum has part of a jaw bone that is 18 feet long. Some claim the animal that bone came from would necessarily have been 80 feet at least. The whale that rammed and sank the Essex was said to have been 85 feet ("I turned around and saw him about one hundred rods directly ahead of us, coming down with twice his ordinary speed (25 knots), and it appeared with tenfold fury and vengeance in his aspect. The surf flew in all directions about him with the continual violent thrashing of his tail. His head about half out of the water, and in that way he came upon us, and again struck the ship." -Owen Chase, survivor]. Modernly, the biggest verifiable bull has measured in at 67 feet [Whitehead, H. (2002)]. While, of course, we can't say with any certainty how large this whale was, it gave an impression of true enormity compared to the Humpbacks and Grays we usually see on the Bay. There was no question this was a bull, and a superlative one at that. As we drew closer bottom readings put the depth at some 300 fathoms (1800 feet). We were near the Carmel canyon edge when the whale submerged and fluked up, with its tail stock nearly vertical. This appendage was also gargantuan in its own right, ridged and muscular.The fluke seemed surprisingly tiny next to the girth of his tailstock. We waited for the whale to resurface some 40 minutes before giving up and resuming our course back to the harbor. A few moments later we saw his spume again a final time, now far to the south beyond the wake line. This was the first Sperm Whale for most on board. It was Wolfe's first in North America. Ternullo has seen them only a handful in his many decades on the water.
Sperm Whale

Sperm Whale

South Polar Skua 
Here is a map of our route out to Sur Ridge and back: 
offshore pelagic/ inshore Pt. Lobos to harbor
Greater White-fronted Goose  1     One seen 20 miles + offshore/ 1
Canada Goose  1     Another offshore goose roughly 20 miles off Pt. Sur.
teal sp.  4     In flight with Scoters a few miles off Pt. Pinos.
Surf Scoter  8/2
Common Loon 0/1
Pacific Loon0/4
Eared Grebe 0/2
Western Grebe 0/2
Black-footed Albatross  10
Northern Fulmar  6/1
Pink-footed Shearwater  120/2
Flesh-footed Shearwater  1
Buller's Shearwater  25
Sooty Shearwater  300/60
Sooty/Short-tailed Shearwater  1/1
Brandt's Cormorant  140/250
Double Crested Cormorant 0/4
Pelagic Cormorant 0/15
Brown Pelican  40/15
Great Blue Heron 0/1
Great Egret 0/5
Snowy Egret 0/2
Black Turnstone 0/6
Red-necked Phalarope  60/85
Red Phalarope  8/0
Sabine's Gull  3/0
Heermann's Gull  300/400
Western Gull  125/300
California Gull  250/440
Common Tern  2/0
Elegant Tern  6/50
South Polar Skua  18/0
Pomarine Jaeger  30/0
Parasitic Jaeger  4/12/0
Long-tailed Jaeger  2/0
Common Murre  25/80
Xantus's Murrelet  15/0
Xantus's Murrelet (scrippsi)  2/0
Cassin's Auklet  12/10
Rhinoceros Auklet  30/25
Rock Pigeon 0/25
Photo collage by Wendy Naruo:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sept. 17 trip report

Photo collage by Wendy Naruo copyright by permission only

Text by Don Roberson,  Photos copyright by permission only Martijn Verdoes/
Aboard 'Pt Sur Clipper' with Richard Ternullo, skipper; Roger Wolfe, Martin Verdoes, Matthew Dodder, Blake Matheson, Bruce Elliott and me (D. Roberson), leaders; with Ken Peterson, Peter White, Bill Sweetman and Michigan tour, and many whose names I did not get, including a couple from Texel. Overcast a.m., sunny & bright p.m. Winds light, Beaufort 2 a.m., Beaufort 3 p.m., but with a substantial swell from northwest. Route: Monterey harbor to Pt. Pinos, then W ~10 mi, north into SCZ waters (did Soquel Canyon & 'the fingers' for storm-petrels), then south into MTY waters some 16 nmi NW of Pt. Pinos, continuing S to 14 nmi W of Pt. Pinos, turn east and return.  Lots of egg-yolk jellies still but few cetaceans: a couple of distant Humpbacks plus a bow-riding small pod of Pac White-sided Dolphin.

Monterey Pelagic/ inshore/ Santa Cruz Pelagic

Black-footed Albatross  12/0/7
Northern Fulmar  20/1/10
Pink-footed Shearwater  70/0/50
Buller's Shearwater  50/0/30
Sooty Shearwater  150/15/150
Ashy Storm-Petrel  4/0/2000
Black Storm-Petrel  1/0/10
Brandt's Cormorant  5/80
Pelagic Coromorant 0/8/0 
Great Blue Heron 0/1/0
Great Egret 1/0/0
Peregrine Falcon 0/1/0
Red-necked Phalarope  40/30/30
Red Phalarope  8/0/0
Sabine's Gull  2/0/4
Heermann's Gull  5/100/10
Western Gull  200/150/150
California Gull  100/100/100
Arctic Tern  3/0/1
Elegant Tern 0/12/0
South Polar Skua  1/0/3    same bird as one in SCZ ~ 16.5 NW of Pt. Pinos, watched as it continued due south and was lost in distance in MTY
Pomarine Jaeger  7/0/6
Parasitic Jaeger  2/0/0
jaeger sp.  1/0/0
Common Murre  100/20/50
Pigeon Guillemot 0/3/0
Cassin's Auklet  50/0/10
Rhinoceros Auklet  40/2/30

Ashy Storm-petrel

Monterey Seabirders

Northern Fulmar

Pomarine Jaeger kleptoparasitizing

Sabine's Gull

Red-necked Phalaropes



Sept. 10 trip report

It is strange how things change on the Monterey Bay. Last weekend’s trip we called the Sooty Shearwater Study Tour when we found only one each of Buller’s and Pink-footed Shearwaters. A week later we find more PINK-FOOTS than I’ve ever seen in one day on the bay. I estimate we saw about 1,000 for the day and they outnumbered the Sooties by a wide margin. There was a PFSH in view almost continuously after we passed Pt. Pinos.

All photos copyright by permission only Martijn Verdoes/www/
Pink-footed Shearwater

BULLER’S SHEARWATERS still remain scarce with only 16 seen on the day but we did manage to find a grand total of 3 FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATERS to the excitement of the visiting group of birders from Denmark. The shot below is not photoshopped!

Flesh-footed (L) and Pink-footed Shearwaters

The first of fall SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATER was photographed by Martijn Verdoes to give us five species of shearwater for the day.

Martijn adjusted the size of the Sooty in this photoshopped comparison so it would match the Short-tailed Shearwater on the right.

We were able to achieve the Skua Slam with sightings of PARASITIC, POMARINE and LONG-TAILED JAEGERS and 2 SOUTH POLAR SKUAS.

Other good bonus birds seen this day included 2 BLACK TERNS and a single TUFTED PUFFIN.

Tufted Puffin

Weirdest sighting of the day was of a DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT that we saw 10 miles from land. Add 2 BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS and a TOWNSEND’S WARBLER and we totaled 28 species on the day which is pretty good for a Monterey Bay pelagic.

Brown-headed Cowbird and friend

eBird report

Monterey Bay pelagic (MTY Co.), Monterey, US-CA Sep 10, 2011 8:15 AM - 2:45 PM Protocol: Traveling 40.0 mile(s) Comments:     Monterey Seabirds trip w/ Todd Easterla, Martijn Verdoes, Matthew Dodder, Richard Ternullo skipper and Alex Rinkert chummer. Also Martin Meyers and Ken Peterson and the Danish Field Ornithologists (DOF) Confused seas and wind kept us from going to the north coast so we spent the day in Monterey County waters. Seas were Beaufort 3 at times with high overcast marine layer all day but good visibility. 28 species (+1 other taxa) 

Black-footed Albatross  100
Northern Fulmar  25
Pink-footed Shearwater  1000
Flesh-footed Shearwater  3
Buller's Shearwater  16
Sooty Shearwater  750
Sooty/Short-tailed Shearwater  1     photographed
Ashy Storm-Petrel  10
Double-crested Cormorant  1     10 miles from shore
Brown Pelican  30
Red-necked Phalarope  12
Red Phalarope  20
Sabine's Gull  20
Heermann's Gull  50
Western Gull  80
California Gull  30
Black Tern  2
Common Tern  5
Elegant Tern  3
South Polar Skua  2
Pomarine Jaeger  8
Parasitic Jaeger  8
Long-tailed Jaeger  10
Common Murre  300
Cassin's Auklet  15
Rhinoceros Auklet  120
Tufted Puffin  1
Townsend's Warbler  1
Brown-headed Cowbird  2