Monterey Seabirds
October 13, 2007 Seabird Cruise Trip Report


Saturday October 13, 2007

Dawn finds us well offshore. Our eighth grade chummers Tanner Easterla and Max Baer get down to the business of attracting gulls to our stern. Some of our 16 participants have been catching up on lost sleep and are now stirred from the cabin by the excited cries of gulls.

Shearwaters soon appear and are curious as to what the gulls are attracted to. Things have changed since our last outing. Now the PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS outnumber the SOOTIES who must now be on the return journey back to the nesting grounds in New Zealand. BULLER'S SHEARWATERS are still plentiful but the most numerous of all the tubenoses we find are NORTHERN FULMARS.

Offshore icterids include a WESTERN MEADOWLARK and curiously a female BREWER'S BLACKBIRD.

South Polar Skua, photo by Jeff PoklenA few late SABINE'S GULLS are seen but only a couple come in to sample the chum. Offshore we find several HUMPBACK WHALES and in their midst are a good concentration of seabirds including our first of 18 SOUTH POLAR SKUAS and some RED PHALAROPES. We see numerous POMARINE JAEGERS but only single PARASITIC and LONG-TAILED but that is good enough to complete the skua slam.

Late in the morning, after motoring through a long birdless stretch of ocean, we come upon a sizeable mixed pod of PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED and NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE DOLPHINS. As is often the case we find many seabirds in their midst including several BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS.

Our skipper Richard Ternullo is doing his best to stay in contact with the dolphins. More than thirty years of experience has shown him this is almost always a good way to find interesting seabirds. Our spotters are busily sorting through shearwaters when Todd Easterla utters those three words that bear so much weight on a pelagic birding trip, "STOP THE BOAT!" I echo those words into the cabin and Richard cuts the engines.

Spotter Tim Amaral replies, "There's a white-headed shearwater," and Todd interrupts him shouting, "STREAKED SHEARWATER at 3 o'clock." Rushing to the rail I'm lucky to get on the bird as it parallels the boat heading toward 5 o'clock before it disappears into the trough all too soon. (For photos see the following trip report.)

We get some fish oil in the water and anchovies overboard but the bird does not return. Richard thinks we might find it by staying up with the dolphins so that is what we do but the Streaked does not return. We continue to push offshore. This trip was billed as an "albacore grounds" trip but the hard water break is too far out for a day trip. We do experience a gradual four degree change in water temperature and start finding storm-petrels.

Over the side we toss an onion bag with mashed anchovies and mackerel soaked in cod liver oil that we tow behind as we drift. Within three minutes we are paid a visit by a LEACH'S STORM-PETREL and a few scattered ASHIES. After a spell we restart the engines to and start moving again. Tim is on the bow and spots a flyby BLACK and a WILSON'S STORM-PETREL.

Offshore we also find 5 NORTHERN FUR SEALS before the time comes to head back toward the Monterey Bay. En route we find a few CASSIN'S AUKLETS and a single RHINOCEROS AUKLET. Our only FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER flies around the boat giving everyone an excellent look.

Flesh-footed and Pink-footed Shearwater, photo by Jeff Poklen

Passing by Pt. Pinos there are a few COMMON MURRES and a single uncooperative ANCIENT MURRELET that flies away before we can get anyone on it.

Special thanks to Fritz Steurer for helping with the spotting and to Ken Hashagen for coordinating the group from Sacramento Audubon.

Also seen:
Pacific Loon
Common Loon
Eared Grebe
Brown Pelican
Brandt's Cormorant
California Gull
Western Gull
Heermann's Gull
Herring Gull
Red-necked Phalarope

For additional photos, see Jeff Poklen's photo gallery for this trip and the October 14 trip.

Roger Wolfe for Monterey Seabirds


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Last updated October 17, 2007