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Sep 10, 11, 12, 13, 2004 Trip Reports

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  • Debi Shearwater
    Howdy, Seabirders, Well, it was a wild four days at sea along the central California coast on Shearwater Journey s September 10, 11, 12, and 13th trips. After
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 15, 2004
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      Howdy, Seabirders,

      Well, it was a wild four days at sea along the central California coast on
      Shearwater Journey's September 10, 11, 12, and 13th trips. After days of
      flat seas, the winds began to blow from the northwest on the 7th of
      September. This had some dramatic effects on the sea surface temperature and
      the distribution of seabirds, in particular, the storm-petrels.

      On the September 10th trip from Bodega Bay, we discovered that most of the
      storm-petrels had dispersed. The sea surface temperature had gone from 61 to
      55 in a matter of days due to the winds. Although we had good views of some
      scattered storm-petrels, we did not find any large flocks. There was a lot
      of krill around, and hence BLUE WHALES and CASSIN'S AUKLETS. We had a clean
      sweep on the jaegers and a dozen SOUTH POLAR SKUAS.

      The September 11th trip from Monterey had a surprising male BLACK SCOTER fly
      by along Cannery Row. In the morning, a single BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATER
      cruised past the boat, as did two SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATERS. We made a
      valiant effort to locate the storm-petrel flocks, but they were not to in
      the areas where we had originally found them. We were stuck in 61-62 degree
      water with no life in it! Our very experienced skipper, David Lemon,
      suggested that we try the canyons off of Davenport on the north coast of
      Santa Cruz. So, we did this, and were successful in finding petrels! The sea
      surface temperature had dropped to 57! We had found a bubble of cold water
      and a good edge, as well. In this bubble, we found, 4000 ASHY
      WILSON'S STORM-PETREL in some pretty bouncy sea conditions, all in Santa
      Cruz County. This area was teaming with life; thousands of shearwaters and
      lots of dolphins and humpbacks. A surprise find on the return to the harbor
      was an adult TUFTED PUFFIN, also in Santa Cruz County.

      September 12th, we headed out from Monterey very early on our albacore trip
      at 5:30 am. It seems that there is not going to be an albacore season in
      Monterey this year, as these tuna did not come within 50 miles of the coast.
      So, we headed out to the storm-petrel stomping grounds, once again. We found
      the storm-petrels, once again in bouncy seas. But, this time there were far
      fewer petrels present. The northwest winds, which continued to blow, must
      have been scattering them other places. In Santa Cruz County, we did have
      great views of a FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER. Another FLESH-FOOT showed up in
      Monterey County.

      On September 13th the winds abated slightly, although there was still some
      swell. We headed to Davenport, but the large numbers of storm-petrels had
      really disappeared. The sea surface temperature had really dropped. It was
      now 56-57 just off Point Pinos, whereas it had been 61-62 the past few days.
      It was apparent that the large flocks of shearwaters and herds of dolphins
      that had been up off of Davenport, were now just a few miles off Point
      Pinos. So, much of the wildlife had moved many miles!

      Some observations that I note so far: Black-footed Albatross numbers really
      dropped this week. The Cassin's Auklets and Blue Whales are just about
      absent from Monterey Bay, but are feeding at Cordell Bank and Bodega Canyon.
      None of these trips had sea conditions that were condusive to finding
      Xantus' or Craveri's Murrelets. So, I cannot comment on their absence or
      presence. I don't know where the bulk of the Sabine's Gulls or Arctic Terns
      are. Usually by now, we have had a day with a very high count of both
      species. Maybe it is yet to come. Or, maybe they migrated further offshore
      this year. In any case, our numbers are pretty low on any one trip of these
      species. Ditto on the jaeger counts. I'm used to seeing much higher numbers
      of jaegers. It was gratifying to see numbers of storm-petrels. Since is
      seems that the northwest winds blew them somewhere, I'm guessing that they
      might be closer in Monterey Bay, maybe near their old stomping grounds. It
      seems unlikely that they flew uphill in the wind. This weekend's trips from
      Bodega Bay and Fort Bragg will provide some much needed pieces to the puzzle
      of seabird movements along the central coast. More to come....

      The leaders on these trips were: Sep 10: Jennifer Green, Mike Danzenbaker,
      Lisa Hug, David VanderPluym, Debi Shearwater, and Don Doolittle. Sep 11:
      Denise Wight, Scott Terrill, Linda Terrill, David VanderPluym, Don
      Doolittle, and Debi Shearwater. Sep. 12: Steve Rottenborn, Mike Danzenbaker,
      Jennifer Green, Matt Brady, David VanderPluym, Don Doolittle, and Debi
      Shearwater. Sep. 13: Sophie Webb, Debi Shearwater, Steve Howell, Matt Brady,
      David VanderPluym, and Don Doolittle.

      The species list follows for all four trips. You will notice that those
      folks who went on all four trips racked up quite a list! This is the way to
      do it, if you are coming from out of state.

      PACIFIC LOON-2/0/1/1
      COMMON LOON-1/0/0/0
      EARED GREBE-1/0/0/0
      NORTHERN FULMAR-6/2/4/2
      PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER-124/790/550/450
      BULLER'S SHEARWATER-224/357/365/200+
      SOOTY SHEARWATER-67/1950/1950/8000
      ASHY STORM-PETREL-47/4000/530/12
      BLACK STORM-PETREL-0/150/53/2
      BROWN PELICAN-+/+/+/+
      BRANDT'S CORMORANT-+/+/+/+
      RED-NECKED PHALAROPE-5/14/23/50
      RED PHALAROPE-55/12/12/10
      SOUTH POLAR SKUA-5/4/5/1
      POMARINE JAEGER-10/11/25/21
      PARASITIC JAEGER-4/8/3/5
      LONG-TAILED JAEGER-8/2/3/0
      HEERMANN'S GULL-10/50/5/80
      CALIFORNIA GULL-60/120/+/150
      WESTERN GULL-90/400/+/300
      SABINE'S GULL-31/23/32/0
      ELEGANT TERN-6/40/4/50
      COMMON TERN-2/1/0/1
      ARCTIC TERN-3/1/1/0
      COMMON MURRE-177/75/74/130
      PIGEON GUILLEMOT-8/4/2/7
      CASSIN'S AUKLET-69/1/0/0
      RHINOCEROS AUKLET-27/97/77/127
      TUFTED PUFFIN-0/1/0/0

      SEA OTTER-0/3/+/8
      NORTHERN FUR SEAL-0/1/0/0
      HARBOR SEAL-4/0/0/2
      BLUE WHALE-6/0/0/0
      HUMPBACK WHALE-9/3/19/14
      BAIRD'S BEAKED WHALE-0/8/0/0
      RISSO'S DOLPHIN-8/70/16/500
      DALL'S PORPOISE-4/0/5/8
      OCEAN SUNFISH-6/3/0/1
      BLUE SHARK-0/1/0/0

      Debi Shearwater <debiluv@...>
      Shearwater Journeys
      P.O. Box 190
      Hollister, CA 95024
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