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Trip Report: San Diego 5-Day Pelagic on Searcher Live-aboard June 2-6, 2008

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  • Terry Hunefeld
    Trip Report: San Diego 5-Day Pelagic on Searcher Live-aboard June 2- 6, 2008 The squawking of Red-crowned Parrots greeted 25 birders as we boarded the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 12, 2008
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      Trip Report: San Diego 5-Day Pelagic on Searcher Live-aboard June 2-
      6, 2008

      The squawking of Red-crowned Parrots greeted 25 birders as we boarded
      the live-aboard vessel Searcher at Point Loma's H&M Landing on Monday
      morning, June 2, 2008 and prepared for our 5 day adventure on the
      high seas. Upon sailing we immediately headed for the Nine-mile Bank
      and within an hour were enjoying storm-petrels, alcids, shearwaters
      and Northern Fulmar.

      Monday's highlights included 33 Black-storm Petrels, 525 Sooties, 7
      Northern Fulmar, 2 SOUTH POLAR SKUA, 18 Xantus's Murrelets, Sabine's
      Gull and 30 Risso's Dolphin. At dinner in Searcher's comfortable
      salon that evening, some participants already had eight lifers!

      Tuesday morning we awoke at the Channel Islands, just south of Santa
      Barbara at Anacapa Island where we enjoyed close-ups of Pigeon
      Guillemots, Black Oystercatchers, Surf Scoters, Common Murre,
      Xantus's Murrelets and hundreds of shearwaters, causing leader Jon
      Feenstra to exclaim, "This place is rich in birdly goodness!"

      The seas were too high and the winds too windy to sail west to the
      San Juan Seamount, so at our morning leaders meeting we agreed with
      Captain Art to sail south with the seas and spend Tuesday night in
      the lee of San Nicholas Island.

      Dave Pereksta proved clairvoyant as he prophesied what was in store
      for Tuesday by pronouncing: "Where there are birds, there are
      possibly other birds." Sure enough, the day's totals included 3
      BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS, more than 1500 shearwaters, including a FLESH-
      FOOTED and 350 Pink-footeds plus 4 SOUTH POLAR SKUA, with 3 of them
      lined up on the water all at once, and exceptional sighting of this
      rare-in-spring and normally solitary species.

      We breakfasted Wednesday morning in the lee of San Nick Island before
      heading out for deeper water to find extraordinarily high winds (35 –
      50 mph) and 6-8 foot seas, highly unusual for June in the SoCal
      bight. Not able to reach our intended destination of the continental
      shelf edge, we continued south towards San Clemente Island. Despite
      big seas, we racked up sightings of Black, Ashy and Leach's Storm-
      petrels, a LAYSAN'S ALBATROSS, an ARCTIC TERN and 5 more SKUA. We
      enjoyed another delicious Searcher dinner in the shelter of San
      Clemente's Pyramid Cove.

      Searcher departed the shelter of San Clemente at 1:00 a.m. Thursday
      and throughout the day we headed southwest to reach the southernmost
      portion of ABA waters. For the third day in a row, the weather gods
      served us high winds at a time of year when seas are typically
      benign. We weren't about to let the weather get the best of us and
      found 7 more BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES, 2 more LAYSAN'S and more than
      100 Leach's Storm-petrels.

      After 3 days of big seas, we awoke at the Nine Mile Bank Friday
      morning at 5 a.m. in flat calm glassy water and enjoyed close-ups of
      Xantus's Murrelets and Cassin's Auklets during breakfast. While the
      weather never allowed us to reach the "rarity zone" at the edge of
      the Continental Shelf, the June Searcher trip proved and exciting
      adventure for all aboard. A big thank you to Todd Easterlea, Jon
      Feenstra and Big Dave Pereksta for getting us on birds in big seas
      and a special thank you to Tanner Easterlea, Dave Povey and Wes Fritz
      for the great chumming that brought in all those tubenoses.
      Communication + Teamwork + Camaraderie equals FUN!!

      Surf Scoter 7
      Pacific Loon 3
      Common Loon 2
      Black-footed Albatross 12
      Laysan Albatross 3
      Northern Fulmar 17
      Pink-footed Shearwater 374
      Sooty Shearwater 1953
      Flesh-footed Shearwater 1
      Leach's Storm-petrel 117
      Black Storm-petrel 86
      Ashy Storm-petrel 7
      Brown Pelican 121
      Double-crested Cormorant 5
      Brandt's Cormorant 1542
      Pelagic Cormorant 7
      Black Oystercatcher 7
      Red Phalarope 1
      Red-necked Phalarope 2
      Heermann's Gull 5
      Western Gull 2260
      Sabine's Gull 1
      Caspian Tern 10
      Elegant Tern 30
      Royal Tern 1
      Arctic Tern 1
      Forster's Tern 4
      Least Tern 12
      South Polar Skua 11
      Pomarine Jaeger 1
      Xantus's Murrelet 43
      Cassin's Auklet 116
      Rhinoceros Auklet 10
      Common Murre 2
      Common Dolphin 50
      Bottlenose Dolphin 12
      Mola Mola 11
      Pacific White-sided Dolphin 9
      Northern Right-Whale Dolphin 11
      Fin Whale 8
      Elephant Seal 21
      Flying Fish 4
      Guadalupe Fur Seal 3

      W. Terry Hunefeld, Leucadia
      Life is short.
      SeaBird often.

      Pelagic Seabirding Trips From San Diego to:
      9-mile Bank
      Los Coronados Islands
      Cortes & Tanner Banks
      Channel Islands

      4 lovely rooms from $130
      At Moonlight Beach, Leucadia
      Encinitas, North County San Diego
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