Sunday August 22, 2004 Offshore Trip
Made to order was the phrase for the day. When you are going
to go offshore of Monterey this is the kind of weather you hope for.
In the vernacular of the local skippers the day was "greasy calm."
Wind was virtually nonexistent and the marine layer stayed high and
then abated, allowing for great viewing conditions.
We got underway at 5:45 am and headed south-southwest for the underwater
geologic feature known as " the Weenie". Word had it that there was
a temperature break west of here and albacore tuna were being caught.
These places where the water temperature changes are where we go to
look for Synthliboramphus murrelets.
about 6:30 it got light enough to start spotting birds like RED
and RED-NECKED PHALAROPES, ELEGANT TERNS and COMMON
MURRES for starters. Then as we moved farther offshore we began
to pick up shearwaters. As usual we first found SOOTIES and
then some PINK-FOOTS. Initially we saw a few here and there
but soon we began to come upon numerous, good-sized flocks sitting
on the water. We began seeing BULLER'S in the flocks and soon
they comprised as much as a third of some flocks. We were having quite
a time sorting them when Don Roberson spotted a small, black and white
shearwater. We got a good look at the undertail coverts and were able
to confirm a MANX SHEARWATER.
We arrived at an area where the water temperature broke and soon found
our first pair of XANTUS'S MURRELETS. We were able to get fairly
close to them for study. Shortly thereafter we came upon a pair of
CRAVERI'S MURRELETS and had nice looks at these as well. This
was a life bird for many on board, not an easy bird to find some years.
On the whole we would see 7 XANTUS'S and 3 CRAVERI'S
on the day. We also had the opportunity to hear the Xantus's vocalize.
After passing over the Weenie we headed out another 20 miles to the
Shepard Meander where the Monterey Canyon makes an oxbow turn.
As we were sorting through the shearwaters we were wondering where
the heck were all the jaegers? Curiously we found them farther offshore,
past the dense flocks of shearwaters. I think we came upon a SOUTH
POLAR SKUA first. We would see 18 for the day and one on the water
quite close to the boat. LONG-TAILED JAEGERS numbered 9, POMARINE
and PARASITIC JAEGERS 4 each for the skua slam. (4 others were
unidentified to species).
From the Shepard Meander we headed northeast toward 500 fathom spot
over the Monterey Canyon and before heading back towards Pt. Pinos.
larids we had a good showing of SABINE'S GULLS and both COMMON
and ARCTIC TERNS which we had awesome comparative looks at,
each atop some floating bull kelp.
BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS seemed shy but we did see 10 but only
a couple of NORTHERN FULMARS and several CASSIN'S and
Especially nice to see were 10 ASHY STORM-PETRELS which were
more than our skipper Richard Ternullo has seen in the last 2 years
combined. Many of these were spotted by a group of sharp-eyed birders
who spent most of the day up on the bow with leader Dan Singer.
the marine mammal department 4 NORTHERN FUR SEALS were the most we've
ever seen on one trip. 1 NORTHERN ELEPHANT SEAL was caught napping
at the surface. RISSO'S, PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED and NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE
DOLPHINS put in appearances as well as DALL'S PORPOISE and BLUE and
We also saw many MOLA MOLAS or Ocean Sunfish. Some were in small schools
and we did see one particularly large, nearly VW beetle sized and
a BLUE SHARK.
On the way into the harbor we paused to pick up the PIGEON GUILLEMOTS
and PELAGIC CORMORANTS we missed in the early darkness. All
in all this was one of our best and most enjoyable trips thus far.
Brown Cowbird (quite a ways out)
California Sea Lion
County Highlights 2004 on Don Roberson's website for more photos
and information about the birds observed on this trip.
Roger Wolfe for Monterey