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Blue-footed Booby, Craveri's Murrelet, Red-billed Tropicbird

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  • Terry Hunefeld
    Greetings The October 4-5 weekend pelagic double-header from San Diego, sponsored by Buena Vista Audubon Society, got underway at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 8, 2008
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      The October 4-5 weekend pelagic double-header from San Diego,
      sponsored by Buena Vista Audubon Society, got underway at 6:30 a.m.
      Saturday morning from Point Loma Sportfishing with 60 participants
      aboard Grande, heading for the Nine-mile Bank and Mexico's Los
      Coronados Islands just south of the border.

      Seas were gentle, skies overcast, temperature mild as we enjoyed a
      steady supply of seabirds. As usual, the Nine-mile Bank didn't
      disappoint; participants enjoyed CRAVERI'S MURRELET, Black-vented,
      Sooty and Pink-footed Shearwaters, Pomarine and Parasitic Jaegers,
      Common Terns, Sabine Gulls, Red Phalarope, Rhinoceros and Cassin's
      Auklets, 2 close pods of Risso's Dolphin, a pod of Bottlenose coming
      right up to the boat and at least 3 Blue Whales.

      At the Coronados Islands we found more than ten Black Oystercatchers
      and two nearly pure (but not quite) American Oystercatchers, the
      black in their tails (visible only in photos) giving away their Black
      Oystercatcher genes. Participants enjoyed Wandering Tattlers,
      Pelagic Cormorants and 14 Brown Boobies, but the star of the islands
      show was an immature BLUE-FOOTED BOOBY on middle rock, perhaps the
      same bird that was photographed in San Diego waters in August.

      Highlights of the return trip from the islands to Point Loma included
      a flock of thousands of Black-vented Shearwaters. We then entered
      a "murrelet zone," seeing at least 2, perhaps 3 pairs of Craveri's;
      one pair being flushed from Mexican waters into US waters (leader
      Dave Pereksta was tracking the exact location on his GPS).

      We thought the first pair of murrelets were Xantus's because we saw
      what appeared to be a light underwing. However, upon careful post-
      trip analysis of photographs, the pair proved to be Craveri's and not
      Xantus's, even though the underwing of one bird had more "white" (a
      dirty white, but light just the same) than Craveri's are "supposed"
      to have; very educational. The leaders agree that the underwing of
      Craveri's is more variable than the books suggest.

      Trip Photos are posted at:

      After our return to Point Loma, we re-boarded and 38 participants (20
      from out of state) departed for the Nine-mile bank at 5 p.m. We
      didn't make it to the Nine-mile before dark because we stopped on the
      way for an incredible show of a Blue Whale lying on its side, lunge
      feeding on krill, pectoral fins slapping as it moved just beneath the
      surface, visible to all. It was quite a show – one seldom seen even
      by experienced pelagic observers.

      A rare low pressure system chose this weekend to make it all the way
      down to SoCal; the seas grew in the middle of the night with the
      passage of the cold front. As we moved out of the shadow of San
      Clemente Island, Captain McDaniels slowed our pace to 6 knots to make
      the ride more comfortable. Sunrise greeted us about 90 miles
      offshore with Yellow Warbler, Mourning Dove, Spotted Sandpiper and
      Greater Yellowlegs.

      Post-front northwest winds combined with high seas throughout most of
      the day, making it difficult to spot storm-petrels. No pterodromas
      were seen. Despite the seas and winds, we were rewarded with 2
      Xantus's (hypoleucus) Murrelets, 3 Buller's Shearwater and the
      surprise bird of the day, a BROWN BOOBY approx 90 miles offshore!
      Mammals included an enormous cavalry (1000 or more animals) of Common
      Dolphin leaping out of the water straight at, then surrounding,

      The swells grew as the day progressed. We anchored and laid a slick
      at Bishop Rock on the Cortez Bank, watching in awe as enormous
      breakers crashed just a half mile away. Afternoon birding was quiet
      when Dave Pereksta said, "Look up!" and Todd McGrath
      thundered "Tropicbirds!!!" quickly waking participants from their
      naps and emptying out the galley/salon for magnificent views of two
      RED-BILLED TROPICBIRDS flying high directly over Grande.

      As the day neared an end, our chummer Wes Fritz was determined to
      bring in Black Storm-petrels, as yet unseen by many of our out-of-
      state participants. We reached the western shelf of "The Butterfly"
      30 minutes before sunset. Wes laid an enormous slick that eventually
      stretched a half-mile, immediately attracting 6 or 7 POMARINE JAEGERS
      actively feeding on Wes's beef fat. Photographers had a field day,
      finding it hard to choose WHICH of the many Poms to photograph in the
      soft light of the setting sun.

      Half an hour after its creation, Wes's storm-petrel slick worked it's
      magic during a beautiful sunset. BLACK STORM-PETRELS were seen by
      most participants, followed by several harder-to-see LEACH'S AND
      LEAST STORM-PETRELS. A lone Ashy was seen by one of the on-board

      As the day drew to a close, the seas finally calmed; the skies
      cleared. The stars came out as a group of us on the stern enjoyed
      the setting of Venus with Jupiter still riding high in the sky near
      the first quarter moon.

      Sunday's weather was bracing with 15 – 20 knot winds and some 12-14
      foot swells in mid-day, making for a big-seas adventure with some
      unexpected surprises: a deep water Brown Booby, crashing breakers at
      the Cortez Bank and the spectacle of 6 or 7 Poms flying around the
      boat. The close-ups of the lunge-feeding Blue Whale and the image of
      the two tropicbirds directly over the boat were still being talked
      about as we disembarked Monday at 6:00 a.m.

      * * * * * *

      Buena Vista Audubon thanks our tireless leaders: Todd McGrath, Paul
      Lehman, Guy McCaskie, Matt Sadowski, Dave Povey, Dave Pereksta and
      Wes Fritz.

      Trip Photos posted at:

      * * * * * *


      The next Buena Vista Audubon Society trip to deep water is scheduled
      for November 1&2 and is a "for sure" go. 12 spots are left. See


      Due to the popularity of this trip, we scheduled another trip to the
      Los Coronados islands for Saturday, November 22, the weekend before
      Thanksgiving Weekend. Details: http://www.SoCalBirding.com

      * * * * * *

      TRIP LIST Sat Oct 4, 2008

      Pink-footed Shearwater 55
      Sooty Shearwater 20
      Black-vented Shearwater 2500
      Brown Pelican 175
      BROWN BOOBY 14
      Brandt's Cormorant 466
      Double-crested Cormorant 13
      Pelagic Cormorant 3
      Spotted Sandpiper 1
      Wandering Tattler 4
      Black Oystercatcher 11
      American x Black Oystercatcher 3
      Black-bellied Plover 6
      Red Phalarope 11
      Red-necked Phalarope 254
      Pomarine Jaeger 4
      Parasitic Jaeger 2
      Jaeger sp. 2
      Bonaparte's Gull 1
      Sabine's Gull 5
      Common Tern 13
      Forster's Tern 4
      Caspian Tern 2
      Royal Tern 12
      Elegant Tern 33
      Cassin's Auklet 13
      Rhinoceros Auklet 4

      California Sea Lion 100+
      Harbor Seal 10
      Elephant Seal 2
      Common Dolphin 400-500
      Risso's Dolphin 20-25
      Bottle-nosed Dolphin 10-15
      Blue Whale 3-5
      Mola mola (Ocean Sunfish) 4
      California Flying Fish 1

      TRIP LIST Sat/Sun Oct 4-5, 2008

      Pink-footed Shearwater 18
      Sooty Shearwater 4
      Black-vented Shearwater 350
      LEACH'S STORM-PETREL 5 (chapmani)
      Red-necked Phalarope 22
      Pomarine Jaeger 9
      Parasitic Jaeger 1
      Jaeger sp. 2
      Sabine's Gull 8
      Common Tern 1
      Common/Arctic Tern 2
      Rhinoceros Auklet 2
      XANTUS'S MURRELET 3 (2 hypoleucus)
      Murrelet spp (2)

      W. Terry Hunefeld
      Life is short.
      Bird often.

      Seabirding Trips From San Diego
      Buena Vista Audubon Society
      Los Coronados Islands
      Nine-mile, Thirty-mile, Sixty-mile Banks
      Cortes & Tanner Banks
      Channel Islands
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