Thursday, October 4, 2012

September 30th Trip Report

Manx Shearwater
 Photos by Matt Victoria copyrights
 eBird report by Alex Rinkert
Monterey pelagic--within Calif. current to Pt. Sur (MTY Co.), Monterey, US-CA
Sep 30, 2012 8:26 AM - 2:50 PM
Protocol: Traveling
60.0 mile(s)
Comments:     [Following pelagic eBird format of D. Roberson] Aboard the 'Pt Sur Clipper' on Monterey Bay Seabirds trip with John Meyer, captain; Roger Wolfe, Todd Easterla, spotters; and myself (Alex Rinkert), designated chummer. Conditions were alright; light to moderate wind, water was very choppy at times, visibility was to the horizon once we got out of the dense fog near the coast, mostly clear almost the entire day though. This checklist 8:26-2:50 PM
23 species (+2 other taxa)

Pacific Loon  8
Black-footed Albatross  6
Pink-footed Shearwater  300
Buller's Shearwater  10
Sooty Shearwater  260
Short-tailed Shearwater  2     Coming in to back of the boat; at least two (one photographed), but possibly a few more.
Manx Shearwater  1     Well seen and photographed individual that made one pass fairly close to Point Pinos. Same one that was seen at beginning of trip?
Black-vented Shearwater  13
Brandt's Cormorant  14
Brown Pelican  7
Marbled Godwit  2     two flying by well offshore
peep sp.  1
Red-necked Phalarope  8
Heermann's Gull  65
Western Gull  80
California Gull  40
Common Tern  1
Common/Arctic Tern  2
Elegant Tern  10
South Polar Skua  3
Pomarine Jaeger  18
Parasitic Jaeger  1
Common Murre  80
Cassin's Auklet  6
Rhinoceros Auklet  20
Manx Shearwater

Photo Matt Victoria copyrights
eBird report by Alex Rinkert 
Monterey Bay pelagic--inshore Monterey Harbor to Pt. Pinos, Monterey, US-CA 
Surf Scoter  12
Pink-footed Shearwater  3
Buller's Shearwater  2
Sooty Shearwater  25
Manx Shearwater  1     Seen close to shore flying 100 meters beyond the kelp bed off the Monterey Bay Aquarium. A small shearwater, resembling BVSH, with quick choppy wingbeats. Noticeably darker uppersides that contrasted nicely with clean white undersides (including white undertail coverts). Well-defined dark auriculars with a crescent curling up in the back. Seen well by Todd Easterla, myself, and a few other participants, but the majority missed it as it only made two quick passes. Same one seen later in trip?
Brandt's Cormorant  65
Brown Pelican  35
Great Egret  3
Black Turnstone  4
Surfbird  2
Red-necked Phalarope  1
Heermann's Gull  65
Western Gull  40
California Gull  4
Elegant Tern  20
Pomarine Jaeger  3
Parasitic Jaeger  3
jaeger sp.  1
Common Murre  60
Rhinoceros Auklet  75
Rock Pigeon  30 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

September 16, 2012 Trip Report

Laysan Albatross

eBird report by Don Roberson  Mike Merlo photos

Monterey Seavalley pelagic (MTY Co.), Monterey, US-CA
Sep 16, 2012 8:10 AM - 1:40 PM
Protocol: Traveling
45.0 mile(s)
Comments:     aboard 'Pt Sur Clipper' on Monterey Seabirds trip, with Mike Johns, skipper; Mike Merlo, deck;
 leaders Roger Wolfe, Dan Singer, Matthew Dodder, Todd Easterla, Fritz Steurer, Matthew Dodder, Blake Matheson, and this reporter (D. Roberson), Alex Rinkert, chum; with Esta Lee Albright, many others from out-of-state. Cold & foggy early, fog lifting by 9 a.m., sun by noon, but still quite cold. Seas very nice, mixed low chop, Beaufort 2 most of day, with some long swells. Route from harbor to Pt. Pinos (see separate checklist) then WNW to mid-Bay at 17 nmi from Pt. Pinos, then west to 22 nmi W of Pt. Pinos, but then N into SCZ waters (1.5 hours from 12:15-1:45, see sep checklist), and then running back with the swells to Pt. Pinos until 3:15 p.m. (and inshore after that). This checklist offshore MTY only, but placed at the Monterey Seavalley hot spot since we got 22 nmi offshore where the water temp was up to 58.5 and were in warmer offshore waters a good chunk of this trip (where birds fewer, but better, e.g., Skua). Only whale was a distant Blue in MTY, also a Blue Shark. We set out a slick at 17 nmi W of Pt. Pinos that attracted (mostly) jaegers. [Todd Easterla had a Tufted Puffin in flight at long distance, so he should add that here.]
 23 species

Laysan Albatross  1     banded bird came to stern on route back toward Pt. Pinos, many photos
Black-footed Albatross  15
Pink-footed Shearwater  300
Buller's Shearwater  95
Sooty Shearwater  1500
Ashy Storm-Petrel  1     missed by many
Brown Pelican  3     over a mile offshore, but dropped out by 5 mi offshore
Red-necked Phalarope  25
Sabine's Gull  1     juv
Heermann's Gull  30
Western Gull  150
California Gull  40     including some impressive juvs (phs)
Common Tern  2
Arctic Tern  3     adults at rather far distances
Elegant Tern  3
South Polar Skua  2     one photo'd extenstively
Pomarine Jaeger  12     many photo'd
Parasitic Jaeger  1     within 3 mi of the Point
Long-tailed Jaeger  1     like adult but without tail, maybe 20 nmi offshore
Common Murre  100
Scripps's Murrelet  4     1-2 nmi off the Point; poor views (mostly flying away) and missed by most; only Todd Easterla saw all 4 (so all but Todd should delete this species or reduce their number)
Cassin's Auklet  15
Rhinoceros Auklet  100
South Polar Skua
Inshore Mty Harbor to Pt. Pinos (MTY Co.), Monterey, US-CA
19 species

Common Loon  1     in flight in p.m., high overhead, heading S
Eared Grebe  1     seen by some
Sooty Shearwater  25
Brandt's Cormorant  150
Pelagic Cormorant  2
Brown Pelican  15
Great Blue Heron  1     in harbor
Great Egret  2
Snowy Egret  1
Black Turnstone  1
Surfbird  2
Red-necked Phalarope  15
Heermann's Gull  40
Western Gull  100
California Gull  30
Elegant Tern  50
Parasitic Jaeger  1
Common Murre  25
Rhinoceros Auklet  65     large numbers inshore, in 'packs' of a dozen or more 
What the hell was that?

Santa Cruz County waters:

13 species (+1 other taxa)

Black-footed Albatross  3
Pink-footed Shearwater  30
Buller's Shearwater  3
Sooty Shearwater  80
Red-necked Phalarope  5
Red Phalarope  1
Common Tern  3
Common/Arctic Tern  2     not seen well enough to be sure of species... well offshore
Elegant Tern  1     well offshore
Pomarine Jaeger  3
Long-tailed Jaeger  1     dark juv seen by many, but not by all (like this reporter)
Common Murre  10
Cassin's Auklet  2
Rhinoceros Auklet  15
 Route map for Sept. 16 counter clockwise

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sept. 9 LITTLE GULL trip report

To cut to the chase our Sept. 9 outing had to deal with some fierce northwest winds and to be honest things were looking pretty slow until all hell broke loose when a small gull flew up the wake and Matthew Dodder got everyone on it. Fortunately the bird flew around the boat a few times and everyone on the boat got a look or a photo of it. Then we all started scratching our heads and chimping over the digital cameras. All of us leaders were in different camps as to whether the bird was a Black-legged Kittiwake or aberrant Sabine's but Martijn Verdoes did think right away that it was a Little Gull. We were discussing it when the bird returned for a second look thanks to Alex Rinkert's diligent chumming. Subsequent review of some photos and perusing of references by Dan Singer and Don Roberson concluded that this was indeed a juv. LITTLE GULL. The fifth record for Monterey county and as far as I can tell the only fall record in California. ( I only have access to CBRC records that are online)

Here is a nice shot by Jim Holmes that shows the collar and partial cap:
juv. Little Gull

And here is a collage of pics by Martijn Verdoes:

juv. Little Gull

We have 8 spaces that are open for our next outing on Sunday, September 16 for anyone interested.
Go to the Monterey Seabirds website to register or call the shop at 831 375 4658. $130 pp.

Here are some more shots by Martijn from the day and Don's eBird reports:

Long-beaked Common Dolphins

Monterey Bay pelagic (MTY Co.), Monterey, US-CA
Sep 9, 2012 7:50 AM - 12:05 PM
Protocol: Traveling
25.0 mile(s)
Comments:     aboard 'Pt Sur Clipper' with Mike Johns, skipper; Mark Merlow, deck; leaders Roger Wolfe, Martjin Verdoes, Dan Singer, Matthew Dodder, Blake Matheson, Rod Norden, and me (D. Roberson); chum Alex Rinkert; with Bill Bousman, Don Glasco, Rick Bern, John Brown, Jeff Poklen, Elinor Gates, and more. A sunny but very windy, cool day. Route from Monterey harbor towards Pt. Pinos, then across Mty Bay to Soquel Cyn and into SCZ waters (for 2.5 hrs; see separate checklist) over 'the fingers', then NW into swell & wind until we turned and rode the waves back to Monterey (but in sun glare). This checklist MTY waters offshore, both outboard (2.5 hours) and inbound (2 more hours). Winds started at Beaufort 4 but up to Beaufort 6 (=20 knots or so) by afternoon. No whales but two large pods of Long-beaked Common Dolphin (1 in MTY, 1 in SCZ, each pod ~200 beasts), plus some Dall's Porpose, a N. Fur-Seal, several molas. All checklist offshore (>1 nmi) only, except for the "inshore" checklist (separate) that includes harbor area & along Cannery Row.
23 species (+1 other taxa)

Black-footed Albatross  6
Pink-footed Shearwater  150
Buller's Shearwater  1
Sooty Shearwater  500
Ashy Storm-Petrel  2
Brandt's Cormorant  3
Red-necked Phalarope  50
Red Phalarope  1
Sabine's Gull  1
Little Gull  1     juv briefly following boat ~8 nmi NW of Pt. Pinos, and then briefly returning 5 minutes later for another pass, caused much excitement and confusion. It was plumage with which most of us were completely unfamiliar, and issues of kittiwake & Sabine's Gull were raised. Fortunately good photos were obtained by several, this is my only shot.
<a href="" title="LIGU-j9Sep12MtyBay_3379ww by Rita Carratello, on Flickr"><img src="" alt="LIGU-j9Sep12MtyBay_3379ww"></a>
Heermann's Gull  5
Western Gull  100
California Gull  50
Common Tern  1
Elegant Tern  3
Pomarine Jaeger  9
Parasitic Jaeger  4
jaeger sp.  1
Common Murre  100
Scripps's Murrelet  4     Seen in flight flying away
Cassin's Auklet  8
Rhinoceros Auklet  20
Tufted Puffin  1     full adult plumage, flying right at & past us, at 3.5 nmi NW of Pt. Pinos
Merlin  1     about 2 mi off Pt. Pinos, flying past us and heading toward Point

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (
Black-footed Albatross

 Santa Cruz County waters
Common Loon  1
Black-footed Albatross  5
Pink-footed Shearwater  50
Sooty Shearwater  50
Ashy Storm-Petrel  1
Brandt's Cormorant  1
Osprey  1     over the boat about 7 miles offshore, the bird seemed to be flying towards the Mty Pen
Red-necked Phalarope  20
Red Phalarope  2
Heermann's Gull  3
Western Gull  75
California Gull  40
Arctic Tern  1
Common/Arctic Tern  1
Elegant Tern  1
Pomarine Jaeger  6
Common Murre  30
Cassin's Auklet  10
Rhinoceros Auklet  4

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (
Pink-footed Shearwater
Monterey Harbor inshore that includes harbor area & along Cannery Row.
15 species

Pacific Loon  4     early arrivals?
Brandt's Cormorant  100
Pelagic Cormorant  1
Brown Pelican  20
Great Egret  2
Black Oystercatcher  1     looked like it could be a short-billed juv
Black Turnstone  10
Surfbird  3
Red-necked Phalarope  3
Heermann's Gull  25
Western Gull  150
California Gull  25
Elegant Tern  15
Common Murre  4
Peregrine Falcon  1     atop Aquarium tower

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (


Monday, September 3, 2012

August 26 Trip Report

 By Tim Amaral trip leader  and spotter Photo copyrights by Martijn Verdoes by permission only

We had a great day out on the bay without any megas.  We had all the expected birds except black storm-petrel.  Bird of the day was fork-tailed stormies on both sides of the county line.  Marine mammals gave us a great show:  5 blue, 5 fin, 2 humpback, 1 mystery (beaked?), 6 Dall's, 200+ Pacific white-side, 1 harbor porpoise, 1 northern fur seal, 1 elephant seal.   Perfect conditions, no problems of any kind, and a very happy crowd of passengers.  Dan will be posting to eBird, so everyone can see the trip list.  Thanks for the support everyone;  you all helped make for a great day.

Fork-tailed Storm-petre
Fin Whale

And spotter Matthew Dodder:

Tim managed quite well as our leader today. Despite an out-of-our-control lull-zone, we had many close encounters with Sabine's Gulls, Pomarine Jaegers, both Phalaropes and enough Buller's Shearwaters to choke a horse! There was nothing rare for west-coaters, but there was plenty to keep the out-of-staters happy, especially those with cameras! All around I heard nothing but praise for today's trip. Tim, you did an awesome job of keeping things going and fielding requests.

Buller's Shearwaters

Thanks everyone for another great day on M-bay!

Spotter Dan Singer's eBird Report:

Santa Cruz County waters:
Black-footed Albatross  1
Pink-footed Shearwater  20
Buller's Shearwater  33     This species just arriving in Central CA waters. Only a couple birds out of Half Moon Bay on 25 August and one there on 19 Aug. Also had 75 in MTY waters during today's trip. Most were sitting on the water in flocks - 2, 19, 6, 6 in SCZ. Immaculate below with contrasting blackish crown, mostly gray upperparts with striking blackish "M" pattern across wings/back.
Sooty Shearwater  15
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel  2
Ashy Storm-Petrel  5
Red-necked Phalarope  4
Western Gull  X
California Gull  1
Arctic Tern  5
Pomarine Jaeger  1
Rhinoceros Auklet  10
Pacific White-sided Dolphins

Monterey County inshore/harbor:
Brandt's Cormorant  250
Brown Pelican  150
Great Egret  1     standing on kelp bed
Black Turnstone  5
Red-necked Phalarope  45
Heermann's Gull  100
Western Gull  200
Elegant Tern  25
Common Murre  15
Pigeon Guillemot  10
Rhinoceros Auklet  5
Peregrine Falcon (North American)  1     perched on radio tower along Cannery Row

Monterey County offshore:

Black-footed Albatross  11
Pink-footed Shearwater  72
Buller's Shearwater  75
Sooty Shearwater  84
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel  3     These were in the vicinity of a slick we put down. Not everyone saw these birds. Larger and bulkier than Ashy Storm-Petrel; medium gray storm-petrels with black underwing coverts and mask.
Ashy Storm-Petrel  13
Red-necked Phalarope  15
Red Phalarope  12
Sabine's Gull  17
Western Gull  X
California Gull  3
Common Tern  3
Arctic Tern  10
Common/Arctic Tern  5
Pomarine Jaeger  7     One second-summer bird (third-cycle type) stayed with the boat for awhile and provided many photo-ops and great study.
Parasitic Jaeger  2
Long-tailed Jaeger  1
Common Murre  55
Cassin's Auklet  3
Rhinoceros Auklet  49

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ten Years Special!!!! Multi-day possibilities

Did you hear about the special?


Monterey Seabirds Summer eNewsletter

Ten Years!
I can hardly believe that ten years will have passed since I posted the trip report for our first trip on Aug. 25, 2002. In that time we have logged more than 100 trips on the Monterey Bay and met some wonderful birders from all over the world and seen some remarkable seabird rarities and cetaceans . We hope you can join us in 2012.

To celebrate our 10 year anniversary we are offering special price for all of you on our email list. The Sunday, Sept. 9 trip is priced at $115 ($130 regular price). Just type in special offer in the Optional Comments or Question box or mention it on phone reservations.

Multi day trip possibilities

Monterey Seabirds and Alvaro’s Adventures have timed their trips so that visiting birders from out of the area can do multiple pelagic trips over a single weekend or bookend pelagic trips with some land birding in between. All of the Monterey Seabird trips are scheduled for Sundays and Alvaro Jaramillo has scheduled his trips out of Half Moon Bay on Saturdays. For Al’s Schedule see:

Out of the area birders can fly into San Francisco International, drive over the hill to Half Moon Bay to do the pelagic with Alvaro and then drive south towards Monterey for a pelagic trip the next morning.

Half Moon Bay is nearly 2 hours from Monterey but birders could stop for the night halfway in Santa Cruz (1 hour from the dock, or Watsonville (40 minutes from the dock).

Note that on the mid September weekend Alvaro is running a trip out of Monterey on Saturday and we have a trip the following day. This is also the weekend for the local birding festival. Our trips run $24 less than the festival trips that are being offered. Festival attendees are most welcome.

Multi day schedule:
Aug. 25 HMB w/ Alvaro’s Adventures
Aug. 26 Monterey with Monterey Seabirds  (10 spaces left)

Sept. 8 HMB Alvaro’ Adventures
Sept. 9 Monterey Seabirds

Sept. 15 Alvaro Adventures in Monterey for a charter
Sept. 16 Monterey Seabirds

Oct. 6 HMB Alvaro’s Adventures
Oct. 7 Monterey Seabirds

Note all trips will be $130, no fuel surcharges. And yes if you go on three Monterey Seabird trips in the calendar year your fourth trip is free. We keep our group size small.

Alaska Airlines is now flying out of Monterey with daily flights to and from San Diego. Airfare specials are currently less than $100 each way.  There are other flights out of Monterey to Las Vegas, San Francisco, Phoenix and Denver.

Leaders in the news:

The new issue of Winging It mentions in the Milestones section that leader Stephen F. Bailey "ticked world bird number 6,772 when he saw Kenya's endemic Aberdare Cisticola in Aberdare National Park on 10, April 2012. This seemingly arbitrary number represents two-thirds of the 10,157 species currently recognized by the Clements Checklist. Congratulations Steve!

We also welcome to our team of spotters veteran seabirder Rod Norden. Here is his bio from our website’s leader page:

Rod Norden started birding back in his college days with legendary birder Ted Parker. Doug Stotz was also his birding mentor (and housemate) in 1970's Tucson. Some of his photographs appeared in Rich Stallcup's book Birds of the Nearshore Pacific (1990) and the Stokes Eastern and Western Field Guides (1996). He got the photo of the first documented Stejneger's Petrel in North America (Nov. 17, 1990) that he shot with a manually focused film camera mounted on a gunstock. He and Steve Bailey also sighted the first record for Dark-rumped Petrel (prior to it being split).

Rod is also an avid astronomer and docent at the Lick Observatory. He is a favorite with visiting birders. He likes getting to know people and really enjoys helping folks sort our seabird identifications. After a long stint in high tech and world travel (with pelagic trips in all three oceans), Rod is now teaching computer science at Cabrillo College.

Monterey Seabirds is on Facebook! Become a fan today. I try to keep it updated with current events in the Monterey Bay.

I hope to see you at sea!
Roger Wolfe for Monterey Seabirds

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Shearwater Journeys meta tagging Monterey Seabirds

Ironic that Debi of Shearwater Journeys described her trips on the Calbirds listserv this morning as "friendly, inclusive," and then she proceeds to direct readers to her blog with the heading, "Monterey Seabirds with Shearwater Journeys." This is what is known as meta tagging to direct web searches to her website by using the name of a competitor in the heading of the blog post.

Apparently there is nothing illegal about doing that. I could do it too (actually I am doing just that right now) but I'm sorry it just seems slimy. Of course this isn't the first time. It was done repeatedly on her blog last year. It isn't as egregious using our name in the heading for her ads in Winging It magazine. "Monterey Seabirding with Shearwater Journeys.

Her website schedule page is headlined, "Monterey Seabirding with Shearwater Journeys."

I have a lot of respect for Debi. Her stamina in doing so many pelagics trip per year is impressive and I have tried to work with her schedule to avoid conflicting dates but this sort of behavior is vexing.

Nobody likes being bullied and that's why we're here.

Roger for Monterey Seabirds