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Aug 8 & 9, 2003 Reports

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  • Debi Shearwater
    Hello, birders, Most folks agree that pelagic trips can turn up unexpected or unusual seabirds, but I have to admit that the CORY S SHEARWATER found on the
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 13, 2003
      Hello, birders,

      Most folks agree that pelagic trips can turn up unexpected or unusual
      seabirds, but I have to admit that the CORY'S SHEARWATER found on the August
      9 trip from Bodega Bay was just plain bizarre! I was not prepared for that
      one! Other highlights of the Shearwater Journey's trips from Bodega Bay
      included knock-out views of a XANTUS' MURRELET sitting on the water, good
      numbers of ASHY STORM-PETRELS, NORTHERN FULMARS, LONG-TAILED JAEGERS, and
      the first SOUTH POLAR SKUAS of the fall migration. Highlights from the
      Shearwater Journeys' trip on August 8 from Monterey included a juvenile
      LAYSAN ALBATROSS, SALMON SHARK, and LEATHERBACK SEA TURTLE. Our reports
      follow.

      The Monterey trip on August 8th was typical of this time of year. The
      weather was terrific: sunny and warm, with some very small waves, but just
      enough to prevent us from finding the prized Xantus' and Craveri's
      Murrelets. The sea surface temperature remained above average, ranging from
      60-64F. A huge concentration of marine life is still hanging around about 2
      miles off Point Pinos where the ocean was boiling with marine mammals,
      especially large whales. Many seabirds are associated with the feeding
      whales. In all, we recorded 31 BLUE WHALES and 48 HUMPBACK WHALES for the
      day. DALL'S PORPOISES (22) were conspicous, as were 90 PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED
      DOLPHINS. Most unusual, was a SALMON SHARK (lifer for me), swimming at the
      surface.

      Seabirds remained about normal: 35 BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES were around
      throughout the day, 2000 SOOTY SHEARWATERS, 25 PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS, and
      1 BULLER'S SHEARWATER. Most of the Buller's Shearwaters are still
      concentrated near Bodega Canyon and the Cordell Bank (see Aug 9th report).
      No Northern Fulmars were found, again; they are concentrated in the Cordell
      area. A handful of ASHY STORM-PETRELS (8) and 1 BLACK STORM-PETREL were
      recorded. Jaeger migration is moving into full swing: 8 POMARINE, 8
      POM/PARA, 1 PARASITIC, 11 PARA/LONG-TAILS, 2 LONG-TAILED JAEGERS. The
      Long-tailed Jaegers are really moving off of Cordell Bank right now.
      SABINE'S GULLS made a good show at 200. Arctic terns have not really showed
      up yet. We saw the usual alcids: COMMON MURRE (150), PIGEON GUILLEMOT (12),
      RHINOCEROS AUKLET (15), CASSIN'S AUKLET (10). Both RED (6) and RED-NECKED
      PHALAROPES (70) were found. The prize find of the day was when leader
      Jennifer Green belted out from the stern, "LAYSAN ALBATROSS!" The albatross
      flew up the wake and sat on the water, eating squid that was thrown to it.
      It was a beautiful juvenile, probably from the newer-established colony in
      Mexico. Many photos were shot. The crowning glory of the day, was a
      LEATHERBACK SEA TURTLE, at least 6 feet long, spotted by leader Tristan
      McKee. Our skipper, Tinker, carefully maneuvered the boat for all on board
      to see this magnificent creature with a head the size of a basketball. It
      was a wonderful ending to another terrific day at sea.

      The August 9th trip from Bodega Bay began with choppy inshore waters, but
      smoothed out considerably as we moved offshore (as is sometimes the case in
      this area). We headed for Bodega Canyon and Cordell Bank. No disappointments
      here! Although the seabirds were distributed in patches, those patches were
      quite impressive. There was something to look at all day long. As is often
      the case, the shear numbers of migrating seabirds was very evident. We
      recorded much higher numbers of quite a few species than what is showing up
      on the Monterey trips at this time (remember, things change constantly out
      there!).

      Between Bodega Canyon and Cordell Bank, we encountered very large flocks of
      shearwaters sitting on the water. I had a sneaky feeling that we would find
      our first South Polar Skuas of the day here, and sure enough we did! Slowing
      the boat to a crawl, I also felt that we could pull out a "good" shearwater
      amongst the thousands that were around. Eveyone was getting great views of
      Sootys, Pink-foots, and Buller's Shearwaters while they were sitting on the
      water, a different perspective than the in flight views. Suddenly, I felt
      myself drawn to this hulking shearwater that didn't match anything that I
      was expecting. It was about 30 yards from the boat in the 10 o'clock
      position. Streaked Shearwater immediately popped into my mental Roledex, but
      the neck was not streaked, and the face was not white. At the moment that
      the shearwater lifted its wings, and I glimpsed the clean underwing pattern,
      I thought it was a Cory's Shearwater. Tristan McKee and David Ward were on
      the bird at the same time, and shouts of "Cory's Shearwater!!!" rang out all
      over the boat! The Cory's flew a short distance along with the other
      shearwaters that were near it, and they all sat down on the water again.
      Once again, we were able to refind the Cory's, picking it out from the
      Pink-foots by its bulky size and yellow bill. Everyone on the boat saw the
      shearwater, as we repeated this pattern of approaching it slowly with the
      boat, and having it fly off a short distance, only to sit on the water
      again. Subsequent views were not as close as the initial sighting, but quite
      satifactory. I shot at least one roll of film that might show some of the
      key features for ID purposes. (I will pick up the exposed film today). This
      may well be the first record of a Cory's Shearwater for the Pacific Ocean,
      or at least for the North Pacific. If anyone can update me on this, I would
      appreciate that information. Sea surface temps ranged from 58-60.8F in the
      area where we were following the Cory's Shearwater. I have been told that
      they often follow the edge of water temp breaks on the East Coast of the US.
      It was quite a shock to find this shearwater, but we have come to expect a
      certain level of suprises on these trips! Afterall, a quick look at some of
      the weird seabirds that Shearwater Journeys has found and documented: Shy
      Albatross, Great-winged Petrel, Dark-rumped Petrel, Bulwer's Petrel, etc.
      The area where we found the Cory's is in the same area where we have found
      some of these above mentioned rarities.

      Finally, after chasing the Cory's for an hour, and having quite satifactory
      views, we continued on our way. We all settled down into that wonderful
      feeling of having seen something so spectacular that it defies imagination.
      Conversation was jovial. Then, Ann Dewart, veteran of over 150 pelagic
      trips, told me that when she opened her Cape Cod potato chips that day, she
      said that it was to chum in the Cory's Shearwater!!! Ted Koundakjian quipped
      that the Cory's may be accused of being "chip assisted!" It was another
      great day at sea. What else can I say?

      Our list follows:

      BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS-124 (most concentrated around some drag boats that
      had already pulled their nets)
      SOOTY SHEARWATER-15,000
      PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER-1000
      *CORY'S SHEARWATER-1
      BULLER'S SHEARWATER-110
      NORTHERN FULMAR-140
      ASHY STORM-PETREL-60
      FORK-TAILED STORM-PETREL-1
      POMARINE JAEGER-14
      PARASITIC/POMARINE JAEGER-1
      LONG-TAILED JAEGER-40
      SOUTH POLAR SKUA-3
      jaeger sp.-60
      WESTERN GULL-37
      CALIFORNIA GULL-5
      SABINE'S GULL-1100
      COMMON MURRE-500
      PIGEON GUILLEMOT-30 + 1 juv.
      RHINOCEROS AUKLET-5
      CASSIN'S AUKLET-1600
      XANTUS' MURRELET-1
      XANTUS/CRAVERIS-1 fly-away
      HUMPBACK WHALE-28
      DALL'S PORPOISE-16
      PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED DOLPIN-1200
      NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE DOLPHIN-300
      NORTHERN FUR SEAL-2
      CALIFORNIA SEA LION-+
      SHARK sp. (non- Blue shark)-3

      I hope that you can join us on one of our trips. The next Bodega Bay trips
      with spaces available are Sep. 12, 19, 28 and Oct. 13, 19. The next Monterey
      trips with spaces available are: Aug. 23, 31 and Sep. 7, 15, 26 and Oct. 3,
      5, 11, 17. We have two Albacore trips with spaces available scheduled to run
      from Monterey: Sep. 14 & Oct. 4, an excellent choice for the murrelets,
      jaegers and skuas. Trips from Santa Cruz with spaces available: Sep. 13, 27
      and Oct. 12. Our Fort Bragg trips on August 15, 16, and 17 are still sold
      out. Fort Bragg trips with spaces available: Sep. 21 and Oct. 15. Please see
      our web site for the latest updates. Thank you.

      Debra Shearwater
      ---
      http://www.shearwaterjourneys.com
      Debi Shearwater <debiluv@...>
      Shearwater Journeys
      P.O. Box 190
      Hollister, CA 95024
      831-637-8527



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