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Sept. 10th LAAS Pelagic Trip Results

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  • toddamcgrath
    Fellow Calbirders: On Sept 10th a hardy group of birders from around the country departed Santa Barbara on the CONDOR EXPRESS. This annual Los Angeles Audubon
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 12, 2005
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      Fellow Calbirders:

      On Sept 10th a hardy group of birders from around the country
      departed Santa Barbara on the CONDOR EXPRESS. This annual Los
      Angeles Audubon trip nicknamed "The Tropicbird Trip" is a favorite
      of So Cal birders, and the only reliable one day trip for Red-billed
      Tropicbird anywhere in the ABA area.

      We headed for the Santa Rosa Passage, and began seeing large numbers
      of Pink-footed Shearwaters, and smaller numbers of Sooty
      Shearwaters. Right in the passage we saw our first of 4 South Polar
      Skuas. All the Skuas were in the vicinity of the large Shearwater
      flocks. We soon encountered our first Long-tailed jaeger, and at one
      point there were three in the air at once.

      As we proceeded south towards the western edge of San Nicolas
      Island, the Shearwater numbers began to diminish, but numbers of
      Black Storm-petrels were seen. After crossing a rather quiet Tanner
      Bank, we proceeded to Cortez Bank, where we began to encounter a few
      Leach's Storm-Petrels. While watching a Leach's storm-petrel fly
      down the starboard side of the boat, we were pleasantly surprised to
      see a Cook's Petrel briefly chase the Leach's and then put on an
      acrobatic flight display. It has been an excellent year for Cook's
      Petrels. A few have been seen on charter fishing trips, and the
      Recent Seacher multi-day trip found over a dozen.

      A large group of storm-petrels swirling off in the distance was out
      next stop, and three Sabine's Gulls dropped out of the sky to see
      what was happening. We spent quite a bit of time looking through
      this feeding group which was composed mostly of dark or dusky-
      rumped Leach's with a few white-rumped birds. Several very small
      Leach's were consistent with summer breeding birds from Guadalupe I.
      in Mexico. A few Black Storm-petrels and at least one Least Storm-
      petrel rounded out the Storm-petrel list.

      Since we still had not found a Red-billed Tropicbird we set course
      for the shallow areas southeast of San Nicolas I., a location where
      we have had good luck in the past. I was on the lower deck assuring
      some disheartened passengers that we still had a good chance at Red-
      billed Tropicbird when the call went out. We saw two adult
      Tropicbirds, and the fast Condor Express followed them at high speed
      until they sat on the water. A third bird joined out two, and we had
      three in view at one time. After crossing back into Ventura waters
      we had an additional bird that repeatedly buzzed the boat at close
      range to the delight of all. One additional Tropicbird was seen in
      the distance bringing the total for the day to five.

      We were now running late, but the crew of the Condor Express still
      made stops for us to look through some large flocks of Shearwaters
      on the way home. We arrived back at the dock over an hour late, but
      with great looks at Cook's Petrel and Red-billed Tropicbird.

      The complete bird and mammal list follows. Thanks to Jon Feenstra,
      Kimball Garrett, and Dave Perekstra, who led the trip with me, and
      to LAAS and the captain and crew of the Condor Express.
      In a separate post, I will put up the rest of the fall schedule for
      LAAS and the Condor Express. There are several trips that could find
      Cook's Petrels or other gadfly petrels. This seems to be an epic
      year, and I would advise booking this year.

      Pelagic Birds
      Cook's Petrel 1
      Pink-footed Shearwater 1500
      Sooty Shearwater 75
      Black-vented Shearwater 0
      Leach's Storm-petrel 80
      Black Storm-petrel 39
      Least Storm-petrel 1
      Red-billed Tropicbird 5
      Red-necked Phalarope 35
      Red Phalarope 11
      South Polar Skua 4
      Pomarine Jaeger 2
      Long-tailed Jaeger 5
      Sabine's Gull 8
      Common/Arctic Tern 4
      Cassin's Auklet 9

      Other Birds
      Brown Pelican 27
      Brandt's Cormorant 55
      Heerman's Gull many
      California Gull 2
      Western Gull many
      Royal Tern 1

      Marine Mammals

      California Sea Lion 35
      Northern Elephant Seal 1
      Humpback Whale 5
      Fin Whale 2
      Minke Whale 2
      Common Bottlenosed Dolphin 25
      Long-beaked Common Dolphin 125
      Risso's Dolphin 5
      Todd McGrath
      Marina Del Rey, CA
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