Saturday September 30, 2006
Before we have even boarded the boat some of our 17 participants are
ticking off a life bird. Richard Ternullo has found a female HARLEQUIN
DUCK on a mooring buoy on the other side of Fisherman's Wharf
from the Monterey Bay Whale Watch Center.
Along the Coast Guard jetty we find a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON,
a few BLACK TURNSTONES and many BRANDT'S CORMORANTS.
Outside of the harbor we find our first PIGEON GUILLEMOT and
then a concentration of COMMON MURRES and some ELEGANT TERNS
As we motor along the infamous Cannery Row a MINKE WHALE crosses the
bow and most on board get a look at the distinctive dorsal fin of
the smallest of baleen whales. Minkes in the Pacific are very shy
but we get a rare second look when it resurfaces again off the stern.
Not a bad start to the day!
We round Pt. Pinos and head toward Carmel Bay where we come upon a
great deal of bird activity. It consists mainly of gulls (WESTERN,
HEERMANN'S and CALIFORNIA) but there are SOOTY SHEARWATERS
around and we find our first PINK-FOOTED here as well.
About this time I have Don Roberson try my new 12X marine bins with
vibration reduction. Don has used the 24x Big Eyes on the NOAA research
vessel the McArthur while doing a four-month seabird survey throughout
the Pacific. He puts them up to his eyes, turns the vibration reduction
off and on a few times. He focuses on a couple of birds and then turns
to me and says, "Roger, these binoculars are very impressive!" Soon
everyone wants to try them and most give similar reviews.
make a U turn to the north to cross the bay and find a few NORTHERN
FULMARS. The birding activity subsides but the whale activity
increases. We get into an area where there are HUMPBACK WHALES blowing
all over the place. Three of them get friendly and begin a fantastic
breaching show right next to the boat. They come flying out of the
water from the same spot repeatedly. Everyone with a camera gets a
shot. The only complaint is from the people with long lenses. They're
too close. See Don Roberson's photos of this at: http://montereybay.com/creagrus/MTYhumpbacks.html
Crossing the bay we are joined by PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED and NORTHERN
RIGHT WHALE DOLPHINS that come in to ride the bow.
Once we're on the northern side of the bay we start finding birds
again and pick up a few BULLER'S SHEARWATERS and begin seeing
a lot of ASHY STORM-PETRELS here and there along with an occasional
BLACK STORM-PETREL. Eventually we find a flock sitting on the
water and when they take flight we find a few LEAST STORM-PETRELS
Don Roberson calls out that he's found an interesting storm-petrel
with a white belly. Perhaps it's the one I reported last weekend.
This time we manage to get several people on it and get some photos
too. The consensus is that it appears to be a leucistic Ashy but an
interesting one nevertheless.
While combing through the storm-petrels we find some RISSO'S DOLPHINS.
In that we are on an eight-hour trip we have to leave the storm-petrels
too soon, to begin our journey back to the harbor.
We come across a group of Pink-footeds and as we draw close we see
in their midst is a length of very thick rope. My duties as deckhand
include the occasional retrieval of balloons that we pick up to keep
Leatherback Turtles from trying to eat them. I manage to gaff the
20-foot section of diamond braid rope that is 5 inches wide. I can
barely get it up to the rail and then it is a real chore getting it
all in the boat. It must weigh several hundred pounds altogether and
takes up quite a bit of room. Richard says I've set a new record for
We have seen several SOUTH POLAR SKUAS and many POMARINE
JAEGERS and as we return to the southern end of the bay we find
even more with a few PARASITICS too. At one point we find a
group of ten Poms sitting on the water and as we approach them we
discover that there is a FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER in with them.
Everyone gets on this bird. A few minutes later Don Roberson and Dan
Singer find a MANX SHEARWATER that parallels the boat and crosses
the bow so everyone gets a decent look.
DALL'S PORPOISES, considered the fastest of all small cetaceans, slow
down enough to ride the bow.
A small gull sitting on the water off the bow is our only SABINE'S
RHINOCEROS AUKLETS are numerous and seen throughout the day.
We tally four pinniped species. Three NORTHERN FUR SEALS, a bottling
NORTHERN ELEPHANT SEAL, many CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS and a HARBOR SEAL.
For additional nature photographs including a variety of seabirds,
see Eric Preston's
Roger Wolfe for Monterey