Monterey Seabirds
August 20, 2011 Seabird Cruise Trip Report


Saturday August 20, 2011

Minke Whale photo by Martijn Verdoes Long-tailed Jaeger  photo by Martijn Verdoes

This was a fun trip. Monterey Seabirds has done more than a hundred trips and some I remember some more than others. It is not just the megararity finds that burn into my memory, it is the group.

Group dynamics vary but when the chemistry is right it makes for a memorable trip and this one will stick in my mind because of its local flavor. Thanks to all you local birders for your show of support. We had a small group with plenty of elbowroom at the rail.

As planned for my birthday gift to myself we headed straight to Santa Cruz waters at Soquel Canyon to try and find a first county record for Hawaiian Petrel in Santa Cruz County. I can dream, right? Well that's all it was today but I'm gonna keep at it.

From the Soquel Hole we paralleled the coast up to the fingers complex of canyons. In the vicinity of Cabrillo Canyon we came upon a flock of storm-petrels sitting on the water, comprised 500 ASHY STORM-PETRELS (that could be 5% of the world population), 6 BLACK STORM-PETRELS and a few FORK-TAILED STORM-PETRELS.

We did ok with cetaceans considering the whale watch boats have been having some difficulty locating any humpback or blue whales lately. We got a call from Kenny Stagnaro on the Velocity that he had a pod of transient type KILLER WHALES that had just killed a sea lion. We had nice views of a pod of four adult females with one youngster. They were in the post feeding playful mode when we arrived, thus we were greeted by one animal doing a headstand underwater while waving her flukes at us.

We also managed to get some decent looks at a MINKE WHALE by following its fluke prints in the glassy calm water and a BASKING SHARK was seen by some of those on the bow.

We had a nice showing of LONG-TAILED JAEGERS and saw a few POMARINE and PARASITICS pursuing the migrant COMMON TERNS and SABINE'S GULLS.

Strangely we saw only one BULLER'S SHEARWATER and skipper Richard Ternullo reports seeing only one in the last 10 days. They must be outside bay waters. Lots of SOOTY and PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS around.

Just a couple of weeks ago there were approximately 100 Humpback Whales feeding over the canyon one morning, and they were gone the next. Apparently they have moved offshore. We saw only a few CASSIN'S AUKLETS and only one RHINOCEROS AUKLET so these krill eating birds are somewhere outside of the bay too.

Coming back along Cannery Row we were inundated with BROWN PELICANS who landed on the boat and begged for a handout while perched on the railing and back of seats. These Brown Pelicans are everywhere this year!

Special thanks to our spotters Matthew Dodder, Martijn Verdoes, Blake Matheson, Mike Johns, skipper Richard Ternullo, deckhand Mike Merlo and chummer Alex Rinkert!

Species totals compiled by Blake Matheson:

Monterey County waters, Santa Cruz Waters

Black-footed Albatross 15 , 50
Northern Fulmar 30, 100
Pink-footed Shearwater 45, 125
Sooty Shearwater 80, 2250
Ashy Storm-Petrel 1 , 500
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel 0, 3
Black Storm-Petrel 0, 6
Brandt's Cormorant 12, 2
Brown Pelican 30, 25
Red-necked Phalarope 40, 50
Red Phalarope 0, 5
phalarope sp. 0, 10
Sabine's Gull 12, 30
Western Gull 80, 175
California Gull 125, 250
Heermann's Gull 100, 200
Common Tern 2, 7
Elegant Tern 2, 0
Pomarine Jaeger 1, 8
Parasitic Jaeger 1, 5
Long-tailed Jaeger 2, 5
Common Murre 120, 200
Cassin's Auklet 8, 10
Rhinoceros Auklet 1, 1
Brown-headed Cowbird 1, 0

Killer Whale 5
Minke Whale 1
California Sea Lion
Northern Fur Seal
Elephant Seal
Harbor Porpoise
Basking Shark
Egg Yolk Jellies
Chrysora Jellies

Inshore waters Pt. Pinos to Harbor:

Northern Fulmar 3
Sooty Shearwater 50
Brandt's Cormorant 325
Pelagic Cormorant 35
Brown Pelican 150
Great Egret 5
Black Oystercatcher 2
Black Turnstone 6
Surfbird 1
Red-necked Phalarope 15
Heermann's Gull 200
Western Gull 250
California Gull 350
Elegant Tern 9
Common Murre 65
Pigeon Guillemot 12
Rock Pigeon 15
Barn Swallow 1

Roger Wolfe for Monterey Seabirds

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Last updated August 24, 2011