- Feb 10, 2003When I realized we had a trip scheduled for the weekend of the AT&T
Pro Am Golf Championship my heart sank. There is typically a phenomenon
that as a kid growing up in the area we referred to as "Crosby weather".
The former name of the tournament as in Bing Crosby. Invariably the
weather would turn foul for the tourney, in '62 there was even a blizzard!
Ah but my worries were all for naught. On Sunday's seabirding trip
conditions were about as nice as you could hope for and the Pacific
lived up to its name. We hosted an experienced group of hardy
seabirders, many up from southern CA and several armed with long lenses.
Inside the harbor we enjoyed close up views of a wintering pair of
HARLEQUIN DUCKS. We were close enough to hear the male's high squeaky
call. On the coast guard jetty we spotted 2 SURFBIRDS and 6 BLACK
Before we even got to Cannery Row we spotted a RED-NECKED GREBE and out
first of 10 ANCIENT MURRELETS. Our skipper Richard maneuvered the boat
into favorable light for the photographers on board and we spent a fair
amount of time trying to get some shots in during the bird's brief time
on the surface. In this same area we began seeing PACIFIC LOONS and
We headed out into the bay where we could see a lot of bird activity. En
route Richard pointed out a POMARINE JAEGER. We came upon good numbers
of alcids; RHINOCEROS and CASSIN'S AUKLETS, COMMON MURRES along with a
sizable flock of BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATERS both in flight and on the
water. Here we also had our first NORTHERN FULMAR.
Our route headed south past the galleries at Pebble Beach which we could
see, past Carmel Bay to Soberanes Rocks. A report of Killer Whales came
in on the radio from this area but the only sign we saw of them were the
two GRAY WHALES we saw heading north instead of south. Here we also
came across the marine mammal of the day. A NORTHERN FUR SEAL was caught
napping in its distinctive way.
From Soberanes Rock we turned back toward deeper water and a fishing
vessel we saw in the distance. A single dark shearwater sp. landed on
the water and we motored over to check it out. It was very obliging,
allowing us to get fairly close and get some photos. There was some
spirited discussion on this bird. Leaders Don Roberson and Steve Bailey
declared it a SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATER. Another sooty type shearwater
sp. seen later in the day went unidentified.
THAYER'S GULL was called from the stern and came right up to the boat
in pursuit of popcorn. All on board were able to get photos of this
juvenal plumaged bird and and a thorough going over of the
characteristics to look for. Later in the day we did the same with an
adult THGU. BLACK-LEGGED KITTWAKES put in several appearances, 15 were
seen on the day.
We headed back toward the harbor down the middle of the bay. Along the
way CASSIN'S and RHINO AUKLETS were abundant. Estimated numbers were
for 3,000 CAAU and 1,500 RHAU!
Near shore we cruised the beach and were rewarded with our bird of the
day a MARBLED MURRELET which is rarely seen on the Monterey side of the
Our next trip is on March 9. Hope to see you then.
Monterey Bay, CA
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