Sunday Feb. 9, 2003
When I realized we had a trip scheduled for the weekend of the AT&T
Pro Am Golf Championship my heart sank. There is typically a phenomenon
that as a kid growing up in the area we referred to as "Crosby weather".
The former name of the tournament as in Bing Crosby. Invariably the
weather would turn foul for the tourney, and in '62 there was even
Ah, but my worries were all for naught. On Sunday's seabirding trip
conditions were about as nice as you could hope for and the Pacific
lived up to its name. We hosted an experienced group of hardy seabirders,
many up from southern California and several armed with long lenses.
Inside the harbor we enjoyed close-up views of a wintering pair of
HARLEQUIN DUCKS. We were close enough to hear the male's high
squeaky call. On the coast guard jetty we spotted 2 SURFBIRDS
and 6 BLACK TURNSTONES. Before we even got to Cannery Row we
spotted a RED-NECKED GREBE and our first of 10 ANCIENT MURRELETS.
Our skipper Richard maneuvered the boat into favorable light for the
photographers on board and we spent a fair amount of time trying to
get some shots in during the bird's brief time on the surface. In
this same area we began seeing PACIFIC LOONS and PELAGIC
We headed out into the bay where we could see a lot of bird activity.
En route Richard pointed out a POMARINE JAEGER. We came upon
good numbers of alcids; RHINOCEROS and CASSIN'S AUKLETS,
COMMON MURRES along with a sizable flock of BLACK-VENTED
SHEARWATERS both in flight and on the water. Here we also had
our first NORTHERN FULMAR.
Our route headed south past the galleries at Pebble Beach which we
could see, past Carmel Bay to Soberanes Rocks. A report of Killer
Whales came in on the radio from this area but the only sign we saw
of them were the two GRAY WHALES we saw heading north instead
of south. A large herd of RISSO'S DOLPHINS were very receptive
to our presence. The group was estimated to be 200 strong. They hung
around quite close to the boat for some time. Here we also came across
the marine mammal of the day, a NORTHERN FUR SEAL caught napping
in its distinctive curled up way, shading its head with its flippers.
He barked at us and then left the scene.
From Soberanes Rock we turned back toward deeper water and a fishing
vessel we saw in the distance. A PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER came
in close to the stern to check out the chum; we saw 3 on the day.
A single dark shearwater sp. landed on the water and we motored over
to check it out. It was very obliging, allowing us to get fairly close
and get some photos. There was some spirited discussion on this bird.
Leaders Don Roberson and Steve Bailey declared it a SHORT-TAILED
SHEARWATER. Another sooty type shearwater sp. seen later in the
day went unidentified.
GULL was called from the stern and came right up to the boat in
pursuit of popcorn. All on board were able to get photos of this juvenal
plumaged bird and a thorough going over of the characteristics to
look for. Later in the day we did the same with an adult THGU. BLACK-LEGGED
KITTWAKES put in several appearances; 15 were seen on the day.
We headed back toward the harbor down the middle of the bay. Along
the way CASSIN'S and RHINO AUKLETS were abundant. Estimated
numbers were for 3,000 CAAU and 1,500 RHAU!
Near shore we cruised the beach and were rewarded with our bird of
the day -- a MARBLED MURRELET which is rarely seen on the Monterey
side of the bay.
Our next trip is on March 9. Hope to see you then.
Roger Wolfe for Monterey
Bay Whale Watch