Pelagic trip report from San Diego Aug. 18, 2013 .
- Highlights previously reported.
Paul Lehman, Matt Sadowski, Barbara Carlson, and I departed Shelter Is. in San Diego Bay. We did a quick check of Ballast Pt., and Zuniga Jetty for a few Surfbirds (5), and Black Turnstones (2). Oystercatchers were absent as has been the case all this calendar year.
A very short distance south we saw the only two Cassin's Auklets for the day. These well inside the normal expected limits for this species (< 3 n.m.).
Near the Pt. Loma drop off we found a small but steady stream of southbound Sooty Shearwaters, with an even smaller number of Black-vent Shearwaters.
We started at the Mexican Border end of the Nine Mile Bank, and worked northwest up the bank. Most of the action here was near the north end of the bank, and further up to the 178 spot. Common Dolphin were feeding and many Pink-footed, and Sooty Shearwaters were attempting to catch up and join in on the feast. Both immature Brown Boobies were seen here. One Booby nearing adult plumage, the other a rather dark juvenile.
An adult Sabine's Gull, still in summer plumage, nearly snuck by our attention in the this melee.
We continued northwest off the bank and out over The San Diego Trough. We picked up a steady stream of storm-petrels here, and all the way to the west. Among the first stormies was an Ashy Storm-Petrel. This species, once a somewhat difficult bird to get in San Diego Co., is now found regularly in small numbers between the "178" and the 30 Mile Bank (14 to 22 n. miles west of Ocean Beach).
Black Storm-Petrels are the most abundant storm-petrel off San Diego, and the most numerous species in the western portion of our cruise today.
Approaching the 30 Mile Bank escarpment we flushed a pair of murrelets
which continued to fly north beyond view. The frustration here was that of the three closely related, and very similar looking species, Scripps's, Guadalupe (both newly split from Xantus's), and Craveri's, the locally breeding Scripps's was least likely at this time of year. Meaning we'd just seen one of So. Calif. much sought after species without being able to I.D. them!! The steep swell and light wind wave made seeing much less sneaking up on these small murrelets tough.
The gods most have been smiling as we went from frustration to excitement on finding another pair on the water and cooperative (see Matt's photos on a previous post) None of us wanted to say anything, but the "Ruddy Duck like" erect tails, the dark black backs, and the sharply dark above and white below faces, sure pointed to Craveri's Murrelts. The photos once "chimped" showed dark wing linings and
black on the face extending below the bill. We had them pegged!(24.9 n.m. from La Jolla).
Much of the rest of the 30 Mile Bank was anti-climatic. We had hope to find rafting storm-petrels, and did not. Though we did have some stormies moving in a common direction that may have indicated a day- time roost further north. We did see an adult Parasitic Jaeger here
and a school of leaping Pacific Sauries, being chased and attacked by Dorado, (aka; Dolphinfish, Mahi mahi), and a lone Common Tern, and a few Red, and Red-necked Phalaropes.
Near the southern end of the U.S. portion of the 30 Mile Bank, and back into the San Diego Trough, we started to pick up an increasing number of Leach's Storm-Petrels. Again a species that can be difficult to get in San Diego Co. waters. All race variations and morphs present, from bright white-rumped to all dark-rumped Leach's with many intermediates. We also saw a few Leach's on the small end of the scale, and with the more fluttery direct flight, perhaps "Townsends" a Guadalupe Is. breeding race (possible future split?).
The last surprise on the way across the "Trough", sharp-eyed Matt picking up on a Red-billed Tropicbird sitting on the water a short distance from the boat. I'd feared I'd wandered south across the border, so marked the spot on the boat's GPS. We were 0.04 n. miles (about 250 ft.) north of the line. Turns out it would not have mattered as the bird flew north once flushed.(17.6 n.m. from Pt. Loma).
We found many Common Dolphin, and shearwaters in the middle of the Nine Mile Bank on the way home, with an adult Pomarine Jaeger, and three Common Terns.
Overcast, winds from the south to s.w. 4-8 kts. a steep swell from the west 2-4ft. air temps upper 60's - low 70's. visibility <10 n.miles. Sea surface temps 66.7 to 68.9 F
partial species list;
Pink-footed Shearwater 210
Sooty Shearwater 95
Black-vented Shearwater 5
Black Storm-Petrel 150
Ashy Storm-Petrel 6
Leach's Storm-Petrel 25
Brown Booby 2
Red Phalarope 3
Red-necked Phalarope 25
Sabine's Gull 1
Common Tern 4
Elegant Tern 35
Pomarine Jaeger 1
Parasitic Jaeger 1
Craveri's Murrelet 2
murrelet sp. 8
Cassin's Auklet 2
up coming trips;
Searcher pelagic birding Sept 2-6 call (619)226-2403 talk to Celia or Art.
Buena Vista Audubon and Grande Sportfishing Oct. 5, 12hr.
Oct. 12-14, 48hr.
Nov. 9, 6hr.
call (619)223-1627 or see details on the www.socalbirding.com