Saturday September 17, 2005
This was the trip we had been waiting for. All our leaders are aware
that the odds of finding a megararity increase with every pelagic
trip we take. Todd Easterla and I had been talking on the way over
to Monterey that we were long overdue for a good bird.
The northwest winds were stiff and seas were about Beaufort 4 so we
were going to have to work at finding birds on the wing. Seabirds
live on and by the wind, they thrive on it. Seabirders on the other
hand are challenged in it. Things are almost constantly on the move
and you have to be vigilant.
Moving along offshore of Cannery Row we picked up a juvenile PIGEON
GUILLEMOT and COMMON MURRE. These along with several RHINOCEROS
AUKLETS found throughout the day would be our only alcids.
off Pt. Pinos we began finding SOOTY SHEARWATERS then PINK-FOOTED
and a few BULLER'S when a SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATER flew
up our wake as they like to do and came in quite close to the boat
for everyone to see. Don Roberson went over the finer points of distinguishing
these from Sooties.
A SOUTH POLAR SKUA appeared and we ended the day with about
7 along with 3 POMARINE JAEGERS.
seeing some HUMPBACK WHALES we came upon the short bushy blows of
a pod of rarely seen BAIRD'S BEAKED WHALES who were doing a whale's
version of panting at the surface after a twenty minute dive into
the depths of the Monterey Submarine Canyon. Skipper Richard Ternullo
pulled the boat into position for the best looks I've ever had of
these strange whales.
After crossing over the Monterey Submarine Canyon we began seeing
ASHY STORM PETRELS dancing over the water. Some of the folks
on board were getting frustratingly brief looks and I worried they
might mutiny. Fortunately we finally located storm-petrels sitting
on the water off Davenport in Santa Cruz county waters. In these large
flocks were plenty of BLACK STORM-PETRELS and about a dozen
LEAST STORM-PETRELS too. We enjoyed nice, comparative looks
at all three in flight around the boat.
Shortly after mid day we turned and began heading back. This is the
time when those on board typically begin to nod and more often than
not this is when we find the bird of the day. We are in the midst
of a great many shearwaters arcing about and busy sorting through
them when out comes the yell from Todd Easterla of, "DARK-RUMPED
PETREL!" Now split, these California birds are presumed to be
the HAWAIIAN PETREL rather than the Galapagos race. For a discussion
by Don Roberson of this id with lots of good photos, see http://montereybay.com/creagrus/DRPE_id.html
Todd yelled so loud that he speculated afterwards that he had frightened
the bird away from the boat. It arced up and away from the boat at
an incredible rate of speed but we were able to get everyone on it
as it arced up again. There was a lot of hooting and high fives going
around as the bird disappeared into the distance. We tried to chase
it but it flew right into the teeth of the wind. We laid down a fish
oil slick but this only attracted a few shearwaters and our only NORTHERN
FULMAR of the day.
Don Roberson was one happy camper with new Monterey County bird number
456. This was the third record for Monterey. Three out of our four
leaders had seen one before. It was a lifer for me and almost everyone
else on board.
Unfortunately it all happened so fast no one was able to get a photo
but Don put together a description of the bird with a sketch including
photos of the BAIRD'S BEAKED WHALES on his website at http://montereybay.com/creagrus/CA-MtyBaySep05.html
PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED DOLPHIN
NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE DOLPHIN
CALIFORNIA SEA LION
NORTHERN FUR SEAL
Roger Wolfe for Monterey