Here is some information on two upcoming pelagics speonsored by the Los Angeles (July 25th) and Buena Vista (August 24-26) Audubon Societies
July 25th The Condor Express will be headed out to deep water (either the San Juan Seamount or Arguello Canyon, depending on weather and sea surface temps). This is a 12-14 hour trip. Our one previous trip at this time of year produced a Tristam's Storm-petrel and a Red-billed Tropicbird. Late July is an ideal time to look for Cook's Petrels, and there have already been reports well into Northern CA (including three on our May trip from San Diego in early May). Perhaps 2009 will resemble 2005, when Cook's Petrels were seen repeatedly on deepwater trips throughout the summer, including one from the Condor Express in early September 2005. Speaking of 2005, A Ringed Storm-petrel was photgraphed from a NOAA vessel August 5, 2005 SW of Santa Rosa, an area we will likely cover on this trip. This is a great time to look for other southern vagrants such as Hawaiian Petrel (recorded in early Sept, but possible April to Sept with a peak in Jul-Aug), as well as the southern races of Leach's storm-petrel, one of which is a good candidiate for a split. Ashy and Black Storm-petrels are ususally present in good numbers this time of year, and Xantus's (both races) and Craveri's Murrelets are also possible.
The Condor Express is a fast stable Catamaran will a large comfortable cabin and great viewing from the two decks. We have done two birding on the boat this spring, with the first trip recording a pair of Parakeet Auklets, and the second finding a Horned Puffin. Our only deepwater trip of the spring was weathered out; July is usually a great weather month, so weather should not be a factor.
The boat is more than half full, so please sign-up as soon as possible. The cost is $195 and the boat leaves from Santa Barbara at 7AM, with an expected return of between 7 and 8 PM.
August 24-26 (4pm to 4pm) We will be doing a 48 hour pelagic from San Diego on the Grande. We have been running these trips for about year, and this is the trip to be on for Red-billed Tropcibird (never missed on a Grande 48 hour trip). This trip will visit the far southern reaches of the ABA area, looking for the vagrants noted in the July 25th trip. Cost is $285 ($250 before July 24th).
If asked to compare these trips, I would say that the Condor Express trip probably has a better shot at deepwater petrels such as Hawaiian, as this trip will spend time in 2000+ fathom water. More notherly residents such as Asky storm-petrel will also be more numerous.
Both trips have an excellent chance to see the Gualalupe Island summer breeding race of Leach's storm-petrel, murrelets, and red-billed tropicbird (with an edge on tropicbird to the Grande).
Both these trips will be well stocked with experienced, helpful leaders.
Late August is a better time to look for Least storm-petrel, and the Grande will spend more time near shore where this species is more frequent.
Both trips will likely see Black storm-petrels.
Alcids are unpredicatble in the summer, but give the Condor Express the advantage on northern alcids like Cassin's and Rhinocerous Auklets. Murrelets could go either way.
In short, both of these trips have good rarity potential, plus should provide a variety of some sought after regualr species.
For you county listers, the Condor Express trip will be in SBC and likely VEN, while the Grande trip will focus on SD and LA.
Please note that these trips have different sposnors. Go to Socalbirding.com for sign-up information on both these trips.
I hope to see you on one or both of these trips. So far 2009 is off to a great pelagic start, and I am sure that there are more goodies out there waiting to be found.
Marina Del Rey (soon to be Calabasas)
Visit SoCalbirding.com for more details