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Cook’s Petrel, Tropicbird - Searcher SoCal Pelagic Trip Report Sept 1-5, 2008

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  • Terry Hunefeld
    Greetings, 28 passengers from 3 countries and 15 cities departed San Diego s Fisherman s Landing on a sunny, warm Labor Day afternoon, bound for a 5-day
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 7, 2008
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      28 passengers from 3 countries and 15 cities departed San Diego's
      Fisherman's Landing on a sunny, warm Labor Day afternoon, bound for a
      5-day pelagic expedition through the Channel Islands, over deep water
      canyons and along the continental shelf-edge.

      Highlights of the Sept 1-5, 2008 trip included Red-billed Tropicbird,
      Cook's Petrel and Wilson's Storm-petrel.

      All participants had close views of more than 200 Leach's Storm-
      petrels, including dark-rumped Leach's Storm-petrels (O.I. chapmani)
      and Guadalupe Island summer-breeding Leach's (O. I. socorroensis)
      that some authorities believe should be elevated to full species

      Also of interest were close-ups of both subspecies of Xantus's
      Murrelet, 2 Northern Fulmar, a first-year Ring-billed Gull 110 miles
      offshore at the Cortez Bank (!), a surprising (for SoCal) 169
      Buller's Shearwater, 1147 Pink-footed Shearwater, 578 Black Storm-
      petrel, 25 Sabine's Gull, 5 Skua, 13 LT Jaeger, 20 Poms, 18 Ashy
      Storm-petrels, 4 Black-footed Albatross, 6 Blue Whale, 14 Fin Whale
      and a Sperm Whale.

      Vagrants, lost, and out of place species over deep water included
      Greater Yellowlegs, Savannah Sparrow, Black Turnstone McGillivray's
      Warbler, Spotted Sandpiper, Mourning Dove and the inevitable (3)
      Brown-headed Cowbirds.

      Monday afternoon we birded the north edge of the Coronado Canyon,
      then headed north up the Nine-mile Bank towards the Channel Islands.
      Black-vented, Pink-footed and Sooty Shearwater were plentiful, as
      were Black Storm-petrels (197).

      Tuesday morning at dawn found us just south of Anacapa Island where
      we counted 700 Pink-footed Shearwater over the course of the
      morning. This was a "Skua-Slam" day with 4 South Polar Skua, 14
      Poms, 2 Parasitic and 3 Long-tailed Jaeger.

      Excellent weather allowed us to wake up Wednesday morning further
      north than Searcher has ever ventured - over Arguello Canyon (Cook's
      Petrel!). After breakfast we cruised over the Rodriguez and San
      Juan Seamounts (Red-billed Tropicbird!). The deep water was right
      for Leach's Storm-petrels (140) and Long-tailed Jaegers (8) with a
      sprinkling of the other jaegers/skua for our second "Skua-slam".
      After dinner, the second tropicbird of the day flew just 20 feet
      overhead to Searcher's lights.

      Thursday we awoke at a flat-calm Cortez Bank, 110 miles west of San
      Diego. The sweet spot of the day came at the Sixty-mile Bank where
      Wes Fritz laid an enormous slick attracting hundreds of storm
      petrels, including 2 Least and a Wilson's.

      Bob Flood of Isles of Scilly, England, who is producing several
      videos for publication with an emphasis on identifying seabird flight-
      styles, obtained excellent videos of the storm-petrel flocks we
      encountered at the 60-mile Bank.

      Full descriptions of what we saw by region follow at the end of this

      Special thanks to our leaders: Todd McGrath, who threaded us through
      the canyons, seamounts and ridges of the California bight while
      finding and identifying birds at astounding distances; Paul Guris
      (See Life Paulagics), a grizzled 25-year Atlantic Ocean pelagic
      veteran leader and beer coinsurer who shared his wealth of flight
      gizz knowledge with 28 guests all week; Jon Feenstra, our
      entertaining and expert emcee, who provided detailed commentary of
      the significance what was being seen via the Searcher's public
      address system; and Santa Barbara's Wes Fritz for keeping birds off
      the stern with popcorn, fish-oil and beef-fat and chumming up

      Thank-you to Art Taylor and Celia Condit, Searcher's owners, who
      continue to block out two weeks every year from their busy natural
      history tours exclusively for birders, enabling us to wander and
      ramble the California bight in search of rarities.

      An additional thank you to Jon Feenstra who compiled and submitted
      our 3800+ sightings to eBird, broken down by regions. Jon's reports
      are included below.

      Thanks, too, to Matthew Sadowski who brought his GPS and kept a very
      granular trip log. When transcribed, Matt's log will contain
      coordinates of all birds seen on the trip. Matt will post his
      compilation to CalBirds in the form of a Google Earth file after he
      spreads the nearly 4000 records to their respective coordinates.

      It was a great week at sea. There is nothing else quite like being
      out there. You never know what you'll see, you're seeing seabirds as
      soon as you leave the harbor, you're surrounded by experts who are
      happy help you improve your knowledge and skills, and no matter what
      the weather, you feel one with nature. This past week, new friends
      were made, life birds logged, and fun was had by all. We hope you'll
      join us on one of our upcoming pelagic trips. There two day trips
      and a weekend overnight trip yet this year, and, in 2009, two more
      Searcher deep-water expeditions.

      Lloyd Snyder of Jonesboro (694 ABA birds) saw 7 life birds on
      Searcher and pronounced, "This is the most fantastic pelagic trip
      I've ever been on, worth every penny I paid and more than I hoped
      for – and you can print that!"


      Sept 20: Sea & Sage Audubon trip from Dana Point.

      Oct 4: Buena Vista Audubon ¾ day trip to the Nine-mile Bank and
      Coronados Islands from San Diego. Expected species: Brown Boobies, 3
      species of shearwater, alcids, jaegers, storm-petrels. Possible
      (seen on prior trips): Masked or Blue-footed Booby, fulmar.

      October 18: L.A. Audubon ¾ day trip to the Channel Islands from
      Ventura. Expected species: Shearwaters, jaegers, alcids, murre,
      fulmar. Possible (seen on prior trips): Manx, Brown Booby, American
      Oystercatcher, Red-billed Tropicbird.

      Details of all SoCal pelagic trips can be found at


      April 29 – May 3, 2009
      Sept 7 – 11, 2009

      SEPTEMBER 2008 SEARCHER TRIP LOG (by Jon Feenstra)

      Nine Mile Bank – USA 9/1/08 This list includes all birds recorded
      from exiting SD harbor, the entire length of the 9 Mile Bank (US),
      just north of there - all SD County water
      Northern Shoveler 6
      Pink-footed Shearwater 64
      Sooty Shearwater 23
      Black-vented Shearwater 75
      Ashy Storm-Petrel 3
      Black Storm-Petrel 200
      Brown Pelican 63
      Brandt's Cormorant 9
      Red-necked Phalarope 70
      Red Phalarope 6
      phalarope sp. 15
      Heermann's Gull 51
      Western Gull 108
      Sabine's Gull 23
      Black Tern 1
      Common Tern 28
      Common/Arctic Tern 1
      Royal Tern 2
      Elegant Tern 49
      Pomarine Jaeger 1
      Parasitic Jaeger 1
      Long-tailed Jaeger 1
      Cassin's Auklet 3
      Rhinoceros Auklet 1

      Anacapa Island - Southern Waters 9/2/08 Waters south of Anacapa
      Island to the NE corner of the Sta Cruz Basin - all in VenCo waters.

      Pink-footed Shearwater 700
      Buller's Shearwater 2
      Sooty Shearwater 52
      Black Storm-Petrel 88
      Brown Pelican 39
      Greater Yellowlegs 1
      Black Turnstone 1
      Red-necked Phalarope 233
      phalarope sp. 0
      Heermann's Gull 2
      Western Gull 42
      Common Tern 2
      South Polar Skua 1
      Pomarine Jaeger 3
      Rhinoceros Auklet 1
      Mourning Dove 1
      Savannah Sparrow 1

      Santa Cruz Basin - SBA County 9/2/08 This list includes birds
      from the north and west edges of the Sta Cruz Basin - all in SBA
      Pink-footed Shearwater 200
      Buller's Shearwater 12
      Sooty Shearwater 31
      Brown Pelican 5
      Brandt's Cormorant 2
      Red Phalarope 1
      Heermann's Gull 5
      Western Gull 85
      Common Tern 1
      Elegant Tern 1
      South Polar Skua 2
      Pomarine Jaeger 5
      Parasitic Jaeger 1
      jaeger sp. 2
      Cassin's Auklet 2

      Santa Rosa Flats - SBA County 9/2/08 Birds seen over the south
      end of the Santa Rosa Flats, near the Santa Rosa Buoy, and the 311
      Bank. All in SBA County.
      Pink-footed Shearwater 37
      Buller's Shearwater 2
      Sooty Shearwater 6
      Brown Pelican 2
      Red-necked Phalarope 3
      Heermann's Gull 1
      Western Gull 56
      Common Tern 2
      Arctic Tern 3
      Common/Arctic Tern 2
      Pomarine Jaeger 5
      Parasitic Jaeger 1
      Long-tailed Jaeger 2
      jaeger sp. 3
      Cassin's Auklet 3
      Brown-headed Cowbird 1

      San Miguel Island Pelagic waters 9/2/08 Birds recorded between the
      311 Bank and Richardson Rock. The track was mostly along the 500
      fathom line.
      Northern Fulmar 2
      Pink-footed Shearwater 215
      Buller's Shearwater 10
      Sooty Shearwater 27
      Brown Pelican 8
      Brandt's Cormorant 1
      Red-necked Phalarope 7
      Heermann's Gull 2
      Western Gull 66
      Arctic Tern 1
      Royal Tern 4
      South Polar Skua 1
      Pomarine Jaeger 1
      Long-tailed Jaeger 1
      Cassin's Auklet 1

      Arguello Canyon/948 Bank - SBA County 9/3/08 Species recorded at
      the 948 Bank starting at dawn (with a chum slick) and waters just to
      the south.
      Black-footed Albatross 1
      Cook's Petrel 1
      Buller's Shearwater 5
      Sooty Shearwater 8
      Leach's Storm-Petrel 5
      Black Storm-Petrel 2
      Arctic Tern 2
      Common/Arctic Tern 1
      Pomarine Jaeger 2
      Long-tailed Jaeger 7
      jaeger sp. 4
      Cassin's Auklet 1

      Rodriguez Seamount - SBA County 9/3/08 Recorded in the vicinity of
      the Rodriguez Seamount which was passed while en route from Arguello
      Canyon to the San Juan Seamount.
      Pink-footed Shearwater 1
      Buller's Shearwater 80
      Sooty Shearwater 2
      Leach's Storm-Petrel (Dark-rumped) 16
      Leach's Storm-Petrel (White-rumped) 3
      Ashy Storm-Petrel 4
      Least Storm-Petrel 1
      Red-billed Tropicbird 1
      phalarope sp. 1
      Sabine's Gull 3
      Arctic Tern 2
      South Polar Skua 1
      Pomarine Jaeger 1
      jaeger sp. 4
      Xantus's Murrelet 2
      Brown-headed Cowbird 1

      San Juan Seamount - SBA County 9/3/08 Recorded within about 30
      miles north of the San Juan Seamount. The RB Tropicbird was later at
      night (9:30PM) east of the San Juan and may have been in VenCo waters.
      Black-footed Albatross 1
      Buller's Shearwater 34
      Sooty Shearwater 1
      Leach's Storm-Petrel 120
      Black Storm-Petrel 1
      Least Storm-Petrel 1
      Red-billed Tropicbird 1
      Red Phalarope 6
      Parasitic Jaeger 1
      Long-tailed Jaeger 1
      jaeger sp. 4
      Xantus's Murrelet 4
      MacGillivray's Warbler 1

      Cortez Bank 9/4/08 Western and southern edges of Cortez Bank, and
      waters SE en route to Mushroom Bank.
      Pink-footed Shearwater 17
      Buller's Shearwater 1
      Leach's Storm-Petrel 33
      Black Storm-Petrel 5
      Red-necked Phalarope 2
      Red Phalarope 11
      phalarope sp. 4
      Heermann's Gull 2
      Ring-billed Gull 1
      Western Gull 54
      Arctic Tern 2
      Pomarine Jaeger 2
      Long-tailed Jaeger 1
      jaeger sp. 2

      Sixty-mile Bank - Los Angeles County 9/4/08 Includes birds recorded
      just north of the Mushroom Bank, along the north corner of the
      Mushroom, across the Sixty-mile Bank (including big chum slick), and
      just north en route to Butterfly Bank.
      Black-footed Albatross 2
      Pink-footed Shearwater 2
      Sooty Shearwater 1
      Wilson's Storm-Petrel 1
      Leach's Storm-Petrel 38
      Black Storm-Petrel 275
      Least Storm-Petrel 2
      Brandt's Cormorant 1
      Red-necked Phalarope 8
      phalarope sp. 2
      Western Gull 2
      Common/Arctic Tern 2
      Parasitic Jaeger 1
      Brown-headed Cowbird 1

      Butterfly Bank - LA County 9/4/08 Includes birds seen on and just
      south of the Butterfly Bank. We also sat on a slick on the bank for a
      time. The Leach's included one Guadalupe type.
      Pink-footed Shearwater 3
      Leach's Storm-Petrel 3
      Black Storm-Petrel 7
      Brandt's Cormorant 2
      Western Gull 3
      Arctic Tern 3

      W. Terry Hunefeld, Encinitas
      Life is short.
      Seabird often.

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