Sunday August 8, 2004
Ah yes, the month of August here on the central coast of California.
It can get pretty thick in the summer months but in spite of the dense
marine layer we had a pretty good day on the water. It never cleared
up, only varied in degrees of density. But such conditions don't deter
our group of regulars, some of whom show up every outing. Is it that
they just love being out on the water? Or that some are photographers
always seeking that next great shot? Or are they hoping to see one
of those megararities that this area is known for?
Inside the harbor we found our first SEA OTTER. We always like to
point out the second smallest of the marine mammals to our out of
town guests. BRANDT'S CORMORANTS continue to rule the breakwater.
Our first PELAGIC CORMORANT is here as well as a couple of
BLACK TURNSTONES and a single RED-NECKED PHALAROPE.
Further along historic Cannery Row we find PIGEON GUILLEMOTS
and our first COMMON MURRES.
Before we get far from Pt. Pinos we come upon a large school of LONG-BEAKED
COMMON DOLPHINS. Our skipper Richard Ternullo is somewhat surprised.
None have been sighted in the bay for several months. We spend a bit
of time enjoying the spectacle of hundreds of them actively foraging
around the boat.
On to the birds. With the marine layer so dense, we are able to quietly
approach flocks of shearwaters sitting on the water. Initially we
have a few SOOTIES flying around but our first of many PINK-FOOTED
we find in these resting flocks. The same is true with our first BULLER'S
of the day and of the year; we see 7 on the day. BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS
A fair amount of excitement is generated when we find a white-headed
shearwater in a group of Sooties. Everyone rushes to the bow and camera
shutters are clicking away. It turns out to be a rarely seen, partially
albinistic, white-headed SOOTY SHEARWATER. ( See photos below.)
POMARINE JAEGER flies by, showing no interest in us. We see
2 for the day and a single PARASITIC. We pick up a few SABINE'S
GULLS; our total for the day will be 60. Some of which we find
on the water with the shearwater flocks. Later in the day we have
2 fly in close to the boat for a great photographic opportunity thanks
to our 10-year-old chummer Tanner Easterla (son of Todd).
The first RED PHALAROPES of the year fly by, sometimes in mixed
flocks with RED-NECKED for a nice comparison.
Our skipper gets us out into the deepest section of the Monterey Canyon
-- to get any deeper than this would require going 100 miles out --
and here we find auklets. Good numbers of RHINOCEROS but only
a half dozen CASSIN'S AUKLETS. Also out here we come across
a small flock of terns. Four of them appear to be COMMON TERN
but the sharp eyes of Todd Easterla pick out a single ARCTIC
in the flock.
As we bird along the way we see more dolphin species: PACIFIC WHITE
SIDED and NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE DOLPHINS ride the bow. We see a breaching
RISSO'S DOLPHIN. A few DALL'S PORPOISES put in brief appearances too.
On the way back in we enjoy some time with HUMPBACK WHALES, much to
the delight of Dr. David Easterla who has flown out from Missouri
hoping to see his first whale. (Yes, we had 3 generations of Easterlas
on board.) He doesn't leave disappointed.
Double Crested Cormorant
California Sea Lion
Roger Wolfe for Monterey