Monterey Seabirds August 26, 2005 Seabird Cruise Trip Report
Friday August 26, 2005
Right out of the harbor we find a large pod of LONG-BEAKED COMMON
DOLPHINS welcoming us into bay waters. We get teased over the radio
by other skippers who wonder what the heck is on the roof of the Pt.
Sur Clipper. Our skipper, Richard Ternullo replies in a matter of
fact way that it is a Coyote Bush (Baccharis). We've mounted
the shrub on the roof as a refuge for any migrant passerines that
may have lost track of land in the fog.
Just off Pt. Pinos we encounter large flocks of SOOTY SHEARWATERS
but do not encounter any other shearwater species until we are a few
miles west and pick up a couple of PINK-FOOTS whose numbers
increase as we go farther west. At one point we find a feeding flock
that is half Pink-foots half Sooties.
flock has some COMMON MURRES and RHINOCEROS AUKLETS
in it too. The whole scene is right out of the TV series Blue Planet.
A large bait ball is being attacked by the seabirds as the fish are
driven to the surface by a HUMPBACK WHALE. PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED and
NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE DOLPHINS are also involved in this frenzy.
At one point the Humpback does a lateral lunge right across our bow!
The birders up at the front have only to look down to see its gaping
maw go by.
We see several flocks of COMMON TERNS in flight and see only
a few BULLER'S SHEARWATERS and CASSIN'S AUKLETS.
Moving into Santa Cruz waters we see a FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER
to make a four-shearwater trip and find a few SABINE'S GULLS
sitting on the water. We also enjoy some nice comparative looks at
interacting POMARINE and PARASITIC JAEGERS. BLACK-FOOTED
ALBATROSS are numerous.
the big thrill on the day is a very hungry SOUTH POLAR SKUA
circling the boat repeatedly, worrying the gulls and actually taking
some of the anchovies Tanner Easterla is hurling over the stern while
his dad Todd eggs him on as he fires away with his camera. The bird
comes right up to the bow and almost takes the fish right out of Tanner's
hand and we hear it vocalize several times.
We are surprised by how meek this series of soft whistles is for such
an aggressive bird. Richard Ternullo, who has been leading trips for
more than thirty years, had never heard a skua before today.
Coyote shrub atop the boat is a welcome sight to a couple of lost
TOWNSEND'S WARBLERS who struggle to stay aloft over the water.
They land in the shrub and then forage around the boat looking for
bugs. They eventually settle into the shrub until a BROWN-HEADED
COWBIRD comes by the boat and scares them out. The cowbird keeps
going but now the warblers are tuckered out and when they make it
back on board they land on some of us and we manage to capture them.
We keep them in my camera case (which they make quite a mess in).
Back on shore we gather in the parking lot to take photos of Tanner
releasing the warblers. When they fly off everyone applauds.
CALIFORNIA SEA LION