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Shearwater Journeys Oct 6th Albacore Grounds Pelagic Report

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  • SKUA@MSN.com
    Dear Calbirders: The October 6th Albacore trips departed at 5:30AM, under fine conditions, and calm seas. The trip headed southwest in the darkness, and was
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 10, 2001
      Dear Calbirders:

      The October 6th Albacore trips departed at 5:30AM, under fine
      conditions, and calm seas. The trip headed southwest in the darkness,
      and was well offshore when the sky lightened. As we proceeded
      offshore we began to encounter birds typical of Monterey Bay in fall.
      Sooty and Pink-footed Shearwaters were seen gliding by, and we began
      to see small numbers of Pomarine Jaegers. A few Ashy and Black Storm-
      petrels were spotted flying low over the water, and a few Red-necked
      Phalaropes flushed from in front of the boat.
      About 30 miles offshore we began to see numbers of Sabine's Gulls,
      and two Xantus' Murrelets were observed sitting on the water, much to
      the delight of the birders onboard. Not long after this, the first
      South Polar Skua was seen in the stern. Still further offshore, we
      encountered good numbers of jaegers, mostly Pomarine, but a mixed
      group of Arctic Terns and Sabine's Gulls was being pursued by a small
      group of jaegers of all three species. After good looks at several
      Long-tailed and Parasitic Jaegers, we headed further offshore.
      Strangely, we encountered a small black & white shearwater well
      offshore. Both Manx and Black-vented are generally found inshore, but
      this bird disappeared before we could ID it to species. Albacore
      trips usually encounter birds in loose bands, with periods of
      scarcity in between. After 41 miles, we found ourselves in one of
      those "dead Zones" and so decided to return closer to shore. As we
      proceeded back near the areas that had birds, things continued to be
      rather quiet, so several of the leaders and the captain conducted a
      strategy session on the bridge to lay a new course.

      A successful pelagic trip is based partly on luck, being in the right
      place at the right time. But often, Shearwater Journeys trips are in
      the right place due to the high level of experience of Debi
      Shearwater and the leaders. Our meeting concluded that the best
      chance for birds was to head north, towards an area of cooler water.
      Seabirds, just like landbirds are often most common in areas, where
      two habitats meet. On land, it might be the edge of a forest, at sea,
      it is often an area with a sharp temperature change. Even though an
      Albacore Grounds trip would not normally head north to this area, a
      good pelagic trip requires a fair bit of flexibility. Of course luck
      still helps, and we usually have a pretty good supply. Today we had
      all we needed.

      Once we reached the temperature change, the bird life quickly picked-
      up, and we spotted 3 more Xantus' Murrelets. Shearwater numbers were
      picking-up, particularly Pink-footed, and then the call rang
      out. "Streaked Shearwater". I was in the front of the boat, looking
      for murrelets, when veteran leader Jim Danzenbaker spotted the bird
      in the stern. By the time I got to the stern, the bird was gone, and
      we began a frantic search to relocate it. A cod-liver slick dumped by
      an alert Debi Shearwater seemed to settle a large group of Pink-
      footed Shearwaters down on the water, and we soon relocated the
      Streaked sitting in the group. The group took flight almost
      immediately, and for the next several minutes, the bird circled in
      the stern, amongst the Pink-foots. The bird was a lifer for everyone
      on the boat but Debi. For several of the leaders, including me,
      Streaked Shearwater was one of the most wanted birds.

      Just because we had seen one of the most sought after seabirds in CA,
      doesn't mean the leaders stopped working. On the way in we spotted a
      Buller's Shearwater. Strangely the only one we saw that day.
      We got back to the dock a little late, but no one cared. It was
      another wonderful day on the ocean, and we still had 2 more trips to
      do. Below is the complete species list as well as information of
      upcoming trips

      Upcoming trips:

      Shearwater Triangle – Moss Landing Oct 13, 20, 27
      Santa Cruz – Marbled Murrelet and Storm-Petrels Oct
      Cordell Bank – Bodega Bay Oct 15

      Call Debi Shearwater at 831-637-8527 or email to Debiluv@...
      Visit the Shearwater Journeys website at www.shearwaterjourneys.com .

      Species list:

      Sooty Shearwater 42
      Pink-footed Shearwater 112
      Ashy Storm-petrel 19
      Black-storm-petrel 11
      Pomarine Jaeger 45
      Parasitic Jaeger 5
      Long-tailed Jaeger 10
      South Polar Skua 4
      Herring Gull 1
      Western Gull +++
      California Gull +++
      Heerman's Gull +++
      Sabine's Gull 172
      Arctic Tern 7
      Elegant Tern 10
      Rhinoceros Auklet 11
      Cassin's Auklet 19
      Xantus' Murrelet (scrippsi) 5
      Red-necked Phalarope 5
      Red Phalarope 150
      Black-throated Gray Warbler 1

      Whales and Other Marine Life

      Humpback Whale 2
      Elephant Seal 2
      Harbor Seal ++
      California Sea lion ++
      Sea otter ++
      Blue Shark 2
      Mola Mola 107

      For Shearwater Journeys

      Todd McGrath
      Marina Del Rey CA
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