Monterey Seabirds
August 8, 2004 Seabird Cruise Trip Report


Sunday August 8, 2004

Ah yes, the month of August here on the central coast of California. It can get pretty thick in the summer months but in spite of the dense marine layer we had a pretty good day on the water. It never cleared up, only varied in degrees of density. But such conditions don't deter our group of regulars, some of whom show up every outing. Is it that they just love being out on the water? Or that some are photographers always seeking that next great shot? Or are they hoping to see one of those megararities that this area is known for?

Inside the harbor we found our first SEA OTTER. We always like to point out the second smallest of the marine mammals to our out of town guests. BRANDT'S CORMORANTS continue to rule the breakwater. Our first PELAGIC CORMORANT is here as well as a couple of BLACK TURNSTONES and a single RED-NECKED PHALAROPE. Further along historic Cannery Row we find PIGEON GUILLEMOTS and our first COMMON MURRES.

Before we get far from Pt. Pinos we come upon a large school of LONG-BEAKED COMMON DOLPHINS. Our skipper Richard Ternullo is somewhat surprised. None have been sighted in the bay for several months. We spend a bit of time enjoying the spectacle of hundreds of them actively foraging around the boat.

On to the birds. With the marine layer so dense, we are able to quietly approach flocks of shearwaters sitting on the water. Initially we have a few SOOTIES flying around but our first of many PINK-FOOTED we find in these resting flocks. The same is true with our first BULLER'S of the day and of the year; we see 7 on the day. BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS total 20.

A fair amount of excitement is generated when we find a white-headed shearwater in a group of Sooties. Everyone rushes to the bow and camera shutters are clicking away. It turns out to be a rarely seen, partially albinistic, white-headed SOOTY SHEARWATER. ( See photos below.)

White-headed sooty shearwater, photo by Roger Wolfe   White-headed sooty shearwater, photo by Roger Wolfe
White-headed sooty shearwater photo by Jeff Poklen

Sabine's Gull, photo by Jeff PoklenA POMARINE JAEGER flies by, showing no interest in us. We see 2 for the day and a single PARASITIC. We pick up a few SABINE'S GULLS; our total for the day will be 60. Some of which we find on the water with the shearwater flocks. Later in the day we have 2 fly in close to the boat for a great photographic opportunity thanks to our 10-year-old chummer Tanner Easterla (son of Todd).

The first RED PHALAROPES of the year fly by, sometimes in mixed flocks with RED-NECKED for a nice comparison.

Our skipper gets us out into the deepest section of the Monterey Canyon -- to get any deeper than this would require going 100 miles out -- and here we find auklets. Good numbers of RHINOCEROS but only a half dozen CASSIN'S AUKLETS. Also out here we come across a small flock of terns. Four of them appear to be COMMON TERN but the sharp eyes of Todd Easterla pick out a single ARCTIC in the flock.

As we bird along the way we see more dolphin species: PACIFIC WHITE SIDED and NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE DOLPHINS ride the bow. We see a breaching RISSO'S DOLPHIN. A few DALL'S PORPOISES put in brief appearances too.

On the way back in we enjoy some time with HUMPBACK WHALES, much to the delight of Dr. David Easterla who has flown out from Missouri hoping to see his first whale. (Yes, we had 3 generations of Easterlas on board.) He doesn't leave disappointed.

Also seen:
Brown Pelican
Double Crested Cormorant
Heerman's Gull
Western Gull
California Gull
California Sea Lion

Roger Wolfe for Monterey Seabirds


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Photos copyright © 2004 Roger Wolfe and Jeff Poklen, all rights reserved.

Last updated August 25, 2004