Monterey Seabirds
October 12, 2003 Seabird Cruise Trip Report


Sunday October 12, 2003

Northern Fulmar, photo by Roger WolfeJust as we pull along the inside of the breakwater someone calls out NORTHERN FULMAR. Lo and behold there is a fulmar paddling about inside the jetty. We stop the boat so folks can get a photo. The bird paddles alongside and at one point it looks as though it might climb up into the scuppers and board the boat. Little do we know that this little guy is a "harboringer" of things to come.

A check of the outer jetty yields only a few BLACK TURNSTONES. Coasting along Cannery Row and we find a single basic plumaged PIGEON GUILLEMOT and a few PELAGIC CORMORANTS but the bird that gets our attention is a single RING-BILLED GULL. Not a rare bird but very unusual here along the rocky seashore. Outside the harbor we see that fog has enveloped Pt. Pinos and the city of Pacific Grove so we opt to make a quick escape and head WNW. It's a beautiful morning on the bay as long as we manage to avoid the thick marine layer. A nice flock of PACIFIC LOONS goes by in the early morning light.

Our six shearwater day begins with PINK-FOOTED, but soon we add SOOTY and get nice looks at a couple of SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATERS flying by the stern just beyond the wake. Only 4 BULLER'S SHEARWATERS are seen. We see multitudes of NORTHERN FULMARS and our skipper, Richard, remarks it's as if someone has opened a box of them overnight and into that box have gone the South Polar Skuas which have disappeared. Up to the day before he'd been seeing skuas but very few fulmars. We do see a dozen POMARINE JAEGERS but only one distant PARASITIC.

Our first of 3 BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS appears. RED PHALAROPES now greatly outnumber the few RED-NECKEDS. When we come upon an area with a lot of shearwater activity a great deal of excitement ensues when a GREATER SHEARWATER is called over the FRS radios and immediately on the PA. Everyone gathers at the spot but the bird flies away into the distance. We spend a fair amount of time trying to refind it without success. This is only the 6th record for this Atlantic shearwater in the Monterey Bay.

We venture into the fog hoping to find some cetaceans reported the previous day but see only a couple of very lost ELEGANT TERNS offshore. As we break back out of the fog Richard spots a blow and we manage to find what is initially puzzling. Turns out to be a male KILLER WHALE with a flopped over dorsal fin. Soon we find he is in the company of three others including a fairly young calf. These and several groups of PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED DOLPHINS are the only cetaceans we'll see today.

Tufted Puffin, photo by Roger WolfeLater in the day Don Roberson calls out TUFTED PUFFIN and we enjoy some great looks at this bird right beside the boat. This stirs the nappers on board but not as much as a FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER that flies right in front of the wheelhouse windows and then to the chumline where he is attacked by a HEERMAN'S GULL behaving very much like a jaeger. The flesh-foot flies all around the boat trying to shake the gull and everyone on board gets looks that couldn't be better.

Thanks again to our fearless leaders Don Roberson and Dan Singer as well as our great seabirding skipper Richard Ternullo.

Roger Wolfe for Monterey Seabirds


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Last updated November 29, 2003