Sunday August 13, 2006
The marine layer overhead Sunday was high off the water, providing
excellent viewing conditions for seabirding. For the photographers
on board it was to be a black and white kind of day.
Our Aug. 13 Monterey Seabird outing was an experience in how dramatic
the offshore migration of seabirds can be. Skipper Richard Ternullo
hatched a plan after talking with fishermen out at the wharf. A look
at the sea surface temperature map confirmed what he had heard. There
appeared to be a line of convergence offshore in the vicinity of Sur
Ridge or what the local fisherman call "the Weenie".
These convergences form a wall due to the change in water temperature
and its density. Both fish and seabirds work along these to forage
Before even reaching Pt. Pinos we picked up a single RED PHALAROPE
in with a small group of RED-NECKEDS feeding in the kelp beds.
Then leaving the point behind we headed southwest and offshore. SOOTY
SHEARWATERS were soon joined by masses of PINK-FOOTEDS.
Shortly thereafter we found our first BULLER'S SHEARWATER and
the first of many POMARINE JAEGERS. BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS
were all over the place with as many as 9 at the stern at one time.
Richard alerted us when he found the water temperature take a sharp
turn downward from 59.8 to 56.6. We could just make out slick water
running down the break but what was most noticeable was the line of
Red-necked Phalaropes stretching down the line.
Excitement ensued upon finding our first SABINE'S GULL and
as we moved farther toward Sur Ridge we came upon numerous flocks
of them around the boat and on the horizon. Personally, it was the
most SAGU's I've ever seen in a single day. All the spotters thought
it was remarkable. We also encountered occasional ARCTIC TERNS
that outnumbered the three COMMON TERNS that flew overhead.
In this area were a few good-sized flocks of Buller's Shearwaters
and a lot more Pink-footeds too.
here we are around 20 miles offshore and in comes a passerine. Do
you know what the most frequent passerine sighted out there is? Brown-headed
Cowbird. We had three of them on the day with two of them landing
on the rails. We would lose them and watch the Western Gulls chase
them about and think, well there goes that one, but ten minutes later
they'd be back. Strange.
HUMPBACK WHALES numbered in the dozens offshore and we did see some
lateral lunge feeding in progress.
A singular ASHY STORM-PETREL put in a brief flyby, as did two
NORTHERN FULMARS. We saw only one CASSIN'S AUKLET that
tried to evade us with quick dives but everyone on board eventually
did get in some views of the little devil. Where are all the others?
Rounding out the alcids were many father-chick pairs of COMMON
A single NORTHERN FUR SEAL was in its characteristic jug handle pose
and showing signs of molt.
A PARASITIC JAEGER put in an appearance but the few LONG-TAILED
JAEGERS sighted were distant and uncooperative, much to the chagrin
of the 23 participants on board.
After reaching Sur Ridge we turned back and took a route that was
only three and a half miles north of our outward track and it was
nearly bird free in comparison. Indicative of what a crapshoot pelagic
birding can be at times.
We had seen a pair of SHORT-BEAKED COMMON DOLPHINS offshore but after
clearing Pt. Pinos we were alerted to the presence of a much larger
pod, so we made a detour to check them out. Might be a bad omen for
albacore fishing this year. Typically when these dolphins are present
the albacore prove to be hard to find. Not good for our local fisherman
after the disastrous salmon season.
Thanks to our pirate crew of spotters: Mola Mola Tim Amaral, Dastardly
Dan Singer, Terrible Pterodroma Todd Easterla and Richard Pegleg Ternullo.
For additional photos from this trip, see Jeff
Poklen's photo gallery.
Our next outing is on Friday, Aug. 25 and there is still space available.
There are no spaces left on our 12-hour offshore trip on August 27,
but there are still some spaces available on the Sept. 17 offshore
trip. We try to keep the group small in the interest of keeping things
comfortable. See our fall schedule
and other trip reports for more
Go on three trips and the fourth is free.
The complete list of species is as estimated:
CALIFORNIA SEA LION-65
SHORT-BEAKED COMMON DOLPHIN-150
Arrrr, Jolly Roger for Monterey