Monterey Seabirds
September 19, 2004 Seabird Cruise Trip Report


Sunday September 19, 2004

A few raindrops fell lightly on my windshield as I parked my truck next to the marina. Stepping out I was greeted by a spectacular rainbow over Monterey. Our group of 30 seabirders and 5 spotters pulled on our foul weather gear which we rarely if ever need in the month of September. Initially it looked like it might be miserable but within an hour and a half the rain gave way to clear skies and the day turned out to be a fine one both in terms of weather and seabirds.

The BRANDT'S CORMORANTS on the Coast Guard jetty have finally finished up with nesting and will now allow the numerous CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS access to the rocks. Hard to believe these birds are tenacious enough to keep the much larger sea lions off the rocks for several months in their quest to rear young. Here we also find a couple of BLACK TURNSTONES. Just beyond the breakwater we find our first of many RED-NECKED PHALAROPES and COMMON MURRES.

And then we're off in our search to find the flock of storm-petrels which seem to have abandoned their historic roosting sight and are on the move. Many on board have expressed interest in finding these birds and as always we are happy to take requests.

Of course we will not ignore the NORTHERN FULMAR we find on the water or the SOOTY, PINK-FOOTED and BULLER'S SHEARWATERS we find enroute. One of two SOUTH POLAR SKUAS makes a brief appearance as well as a few POMARINE JAEGERS.

Tanner Easterla is at the stern doing a great job of chumming and we have a constant flock of WESTERN, CALIFORNIA and HEERMANN'S GULLS in tow but we never do manage to attract any albatross.

We do find some nice pods of dolphins and close looks at PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED, RISSO'S and NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE DOLPHINS as well as several HUMPBACK WHALES. A single NORTHERN FUR SEAL rounds out our marine mammal sightings for the day.

Here and there we find some RHINOCEROS AUKLETS and a single SABINE'S GULL flies by the bow.

After we are well into Santa Cruz county waters we are looking in the area that the storm-petrels have been frequenting this summer and finally begin seeing an ASHY STORM-PETREL now and then. Finally just SW of Davenport we come upon a mixed flock on the water and we begin calling out WILSON'S (1), BLACK (30), LEAST (5) and a lot more ASHIES (1500). We get some reasonable looks and when they disperse we lay a slick which attracts them back and we spend a good deal of time with them trying to make sure all on board get to see what they're seeking. (Those darn Leasts could be more cooperative).

Black Storm Petrel, photo by Jeff Poklen   Ashy and Black Storm Petrels, photo by Jeff Poklen

Finally we are time-pressed to begin heading back. Just after passing by Pt. Pinos we pick up a few PIGEON GUILLEMOTS and PELAGIC CORMORANTS to make the day complete.

Special thanks go out to our spotters Don Roberson, Dan Singer, Les Chibana, Roger Wolfe and Todd Easterla and to the star of our show, skipper Richard Ternullo.

Roger Wolfe for Monterey Seabirds


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Photos copyright © 2004 Jeff Poklen, all rights reserved.

Last updated October 6, 2004