Following the success of our April long-range pelagic trips (15 Laysan
Albatrosses, 100+ Murphy's Petrels, 2 Cookilaria petrels, 7 Red-billed
Tropicbirds), we're running a trip on the "Searcher"* south of San Diego
from 4 through 7 September. Our target species are Cook's Petrel, Craveri's
Murrelet, hypoleucus form of Xantus' Murrelet, tropicbirds, Least
Storm-petrel, and any other storm-petrels that stray up into US waters
during this time of year. August and early September are prime months for
pelagic vagrants in California, and we may come up with some interesting
surprises while checking out these waters. As many of you know, the ABA
area stretches 120 miles south of San Diego, where there are several large
seamounts. The San Diego sportfishing fleet visits this area on a regular
basis, but pelagic birders seldom if ever bird here. Art Taylor, the
captain of the "Searcher", is fishing this area from now until September,
and is on the lookout for birds. Yesterday (24 May) he had his first
Cook's Petrel of the season at 117 degrees 21' W, 29 degrees 33' N, or about
60 miles NE of Guadalupe Island. While this is close to 200 miles south of
San Diego, it's only 100 miles from where we'll be three months from now.
As the summer progresses and the water temperatures increase, the "Searcher"
will be fishing closer to San Diego, locating promising bait and bird
concentrations all the while. Come September we will have a very good idea
of where to go in order to maximize our birding success during the two full
days we have at our disposal.
Our itinerary is as follows:
Thursday 4 September
Leave Fisherman's Landing in San Diego around noon and head west towards
Cortez Bank, 100 miles due west. We'll continue sailing until we reach the
bank around midnight. At this point we'll set a sea anchor and be ready to
bird at dawn.
Friday 5 September
Depending upon conditions, we may set out a chum slick before dawn. We'll
then spend the morning cruising around Cortez Bank. We had 2 Red-billed
Tropicbirds here on 27 April, so this is a very productive area. After
lunch we'll head south towards the albacore and yellowfin tuna grounds. As
we sail south, we'll cross several ridges that rise up from the very deep
waters in this area. At dusk we'll set out a sea anchor, or continue
cruising very slowly southwards.
Saturday 6 September
Our itinerary at this point depends upon what Art has seen during the
previous weeks. By mid-August, water temperatures in this area are usually
in the mid 60s (Fahrenheit), but we will seek out warmer eddies if they're
around. Our emphasis will be to find large concentrations of baitfish and
tuna, and see what bird species are following them. We will spend the whole
day birding. At dusk we'll turn northwards, and return to San Diego.
Sunday 7 September
We arrive at Fisherman's Landing in San Diego harbor around 8 AM.
The cost of this trip is $525. We have 16 spaces remaining, as 14 people
from our April trips have already signed up.
Our leaders will be Walter Wehtje and Don DesJardin. If you're interested
in this trip, please contact Celia Condit directly at
, and she'll provide you with booking information. If
you have any questions regarding the birds we may see, please contact me
(Walter Wehtje) at the above e-mail address.
*The "Searcher" is 95' long and 24' wide, with ample deck space, and great
visibility from the main and upper decks. The upper deck has padded benches
for comfortable seating. Three very tasty meals are provided every day
(fresh Albacore sashimi is very likely). All cabins are air-conditioned,
sleep 2-4 people, and come with sheets, blankets and pillows. Each cabin
has a sink with running water, while two of the four restrooms have showers.
This is not a Spartan pelagic birding experience.