Autumn Petrel Chase
On The Condor Express
It was November 17, 1979. An intrepid group of some of California's most experienced birders was headed towards the Davidson Seamount, about 60 nmi southwest of Pt. Sur Monterey Co, to look for Cook's Petrels. A research boat has seen some the previous month, and hopes were high. Along with 7 Cook's petrels, a Stejneger's Petrel was seen, the first for California and North America. The fascinating story of this record is documented by Guy McCaskie and Don Roberson in a 1992 Western Birds article link below:
Since then only a handful of Stejneger's Petrels have been recorded off CA, almost all from research vessels . The paucity of records is likely due to the fact that Stejneger's is present off CA mostly in the late fall (late Oct-Nov), and well offshore past the shelf edge. Few trips venture out that far at that season.
On November 7th, 2009 at 7:00 a.m. another group of intrepid birders will be looking to repeat history and locate this species along the shelf edge off Southern California thanks to Condor Cruises. Our plan will be to head to the shelf break near Arguello Canyon or the San Juan Seamount. So far 2009 has proven to be a remarkable year for Cook's Petrels reasonably close to shore, and our hope is that these conditions will persist, increasing our chances. Mottled Petrel is also possible in Nov. , and it is quite possible that Cook's will linger this late into the fall.
In Early November it is also possible to find Red-billed and Red-tailed tropicbird, Black-footed and Laysan Albatross, as well as lingering fall migrants. Flesh-footed Shearwater seems to peak off So Cal in early November, and there are still new species to be found at this season.
2009 has been the best year of Southern California pelagic birding in decades. As a result, the folks at Condor Cruises have scheduled an all day (12-13 hour) pelagic trip to the continental shelf edge on November 7, 2009 departing at 7:00 a.m. This trip will cost $195 and will head either due west to Arguello Canyon, or to the San Juan Seamount, depending on weather and sea surface temps. Either place could produce Stejneger's Petrel (with a cluster of records Oct-Nov) just to the north. I hope you will join us on the final Condor Express birding trip of the year.
This trip is NOT sponsored by the Los Angeles or Buena Vista Audubon Societies - it is posted here for information purposes only. To reserve a space on this trip you must telephone the Condor Cruises folks at Sea Landing, Condor Cruises have asked Todd McGrath to arrange to have experienced pelagic leaders on board to find and identify birds. All arrangements regarding reservations, cancellations, payment, credit cards, etc will be handled by the good folks at Condor Cruises.
For reservations or more information about this trip, call Condor Cruises at 888-77WHALE or (805) 882-0088
Calabasas and the shelf edge