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October 15, 2004 Trip Report

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  • Debi Shearwater
    Howdy, Seabirders, The highlight of Shearwater Journey s last pelagic trip of the fall season was a THICK-BILLED MURRE, spotted by Mike Danzenbaker,
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 16, 2004
      Howdy, Seabirders,

      The highlight of Shearwater Journey's last pelagic trip of the fall season
      was a THICK-BILLED MURRE, spotted by Mike Danzenbaker, approximately .74
      nautical miles northwest of Point Pinos. Everyone on board enjoyed long
      studies of this individual, especially in comparison with a COMMON MURRE
      nearby. Many photographs were obtained. These should be up on our web site
      shortly.

      Everyone agreed that it felt more like winter. Probably we were mostly
      chilled by the uniformly high overcast skies, which are excellent for
      viewing seabirds, but a decided chill was in the air. The seas were
      flat-calm for most of the day, with a slight south breeze on the return
      trip.

      The usual late fall suspects were around, along with the PEREGRINE FALCON
      perched on its wintering spot¬čthe radio tower on Cannery Row. The first
      PIGEON GUILLEMOT of the day was discovered in the harbor as the boat was
      untieing at the dock! SURF SCOTER numbers increased as they make their way
      south for the winter. But, ELEGANT TERNS were still much in evidence along
      the Row. The harbor was filled with brown jellies and the water was still
      rusty-red colored.

      Other highlights of the day included: BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES (often not
      found in October), NORTHERN FULMARS, FLESH-FOOTED, SHORT-TAILED,
      PINK-FOOTED, SOOTY, and BULLER'S SHEARWATERS, and SOUTH POLAR SKUAS. Most
      unusual was an assortment of non-pelagic species found about 18 miles
      offshore (all in Santa Cruz County): PALM WARBLER, AMERICAN PIPIT,
      BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD, GREEN HERON, and AMERICAN BITTERN. Half a dozen
      breaching and tail-slapping HUMPBACK WHALES topped off the end of a
      wonderful day!

      The leaders on this trip were: Gerry McChesney, Sophie Webb, Jennifer Green,
      Mike Danzenbaker, Alvaro Jaramillo, and Debra Shearwater.

      Winter trips are scheduled for: January 29, our Family Whale Watch and
      Albatrosses trip which runs from 9 am until noon. This is the perfect trip
      for folks who want to have a short trip. And, on January 30th: our standard
      trip, Winter Seabirds & Albatrosses will run from 7am until 3 pm. We are
      taking reservations now.

      The complete species list for the October 15, 2004 trip follows:
      PACIFIC LOON-2
      COMMON LOON-3
      EARED GREBE-1
      WESTERN GREBE-5
      BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS-5
      NORTHERN FULMAR-6
      PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER-462
      FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER-3
      BULLER'S SHEARWATER-15
      SOOTY SHEARWATER-21
      SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATER-1
      BROWN PELICAN-+
      BRANDT'S CORMORANT-+
      PELAGIC CORMORANT-3
      SURF SCOTER-81
      BLACK TURNSTONE-7
      RED PHALAROPE-15
      SOUTH POLAR SKUA-2
      POMARINE JAEGER-8
      POMARINE/PARASITIC JAEGER-2
      PARASITIC JAEGER-1-2
      HEERMANN'S GULL-+
      CALIFORNIA GULL-+
      WESTERN GULL-+
      ELEGANT TERN-72
      COMMON MURRE-80
      *THICK-BILLED MURRE-1
      PIGEON GUILLEMOT-3
      CASSIN'S AUKLET-17
      RHINOCEROS AUKLET-570
      PEREGRINE FALCON-1
      WILLET-1
      SANDERLING-1
      AMERICAN BITTERN-1
      GREEN HERON-1
      PALM WARBLER-1
      AMERICAN PIPIT-1
      BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD-1
      SEA OTTER-3
      CALIFORNIA SEA LION-+
      HARBOR SEAL-2 (offshore)
      HUMPBACK WHALE-6
      DALL'S PORPOISE-52
      OCEAN SUNFISH-22 (including, "Big Lips")
      BLUE SHARK-15

      OBSERVATION TRENDS: The Red Tide continues inside of the harbor, but mostly
      green water is abundant in the outer bay area. Very little food source was
      detected overall. We went north to Davenport, the same area where we had
      found the storm-petrel flocks on October 3rd. A very large low pressure
      system had moved into our area last weekend, causing at least two boat trips
      to be canceled due to high winds. This large system must have redistributed
      the food souce, and hence, marine life. The area off of Davenport, which had
      been so productive, was now devoid of marine life: seabirds, dolphins, and
      whales. It was quite a change. We had glassy-smooth seas, and excellent
      conditions for finding the storm-petrels, but none were found! The South
      Polar Skuas, Flesh-footed Shearwaters and most of the Buller's Shearwaters
      were in this area, though. Notice the near total decline in numbers of Sooty
      Shearwaters. Satellite radio tags agree with our at-sea observations, that
      the bulk of the Sootys have headed to the southern hemisphere. That being
      the case, Pink-foots have become the most numerous shearwaters at this time.
      Also, with fewer sootys to pick through, the flesh-foots really stand out.
      Short-tailed Shearwaters have yet to arrive in any numbers. Rhinoceros
      Auklet numbers continue to be high in the Monterey area, whereas the
      Cassin's continue to be low. (last Monday's trip, Oct 11th, to the Cordell
      Bank, indicating still high numbers of Cassin's there, along with the Blue
      whales, as mentioned in prior reports). American Bittern may have been a new
      species for our "non-pelagics" seen offshore list!

      Thank you, to the many particpants and leaders, and chummers, who made our
      fall season so very successful! This was the 29th year that I have been
      running pelagic trips from Monterey, and 25th year of pelagic trips from
      Bodega Bay! Hope to see you in January, or next fall.

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