Two Manx Shearwaters off San Clemente
- Hello all,
Today was quite a spectacular day of seawatching off West Cove Point at the
north end of San Clemente Island. Nearly calm winds and clear conditions
helped produce some excellent birding. Observers included myself and Eric
Kershner. Getting down to it, the big news of the day was California Gull
numbers, as well as large numbers of Jaegers. I estimated approximately 5000
California Gulls moving north between 7 and 8 AM. With them were 19 Pomarine
Jaegers, 3 Parasitic Jaegers, and 15 Jaeger sp. The birds were spread out as
far as the eye could see and at close range as well as very distant.
Just off the kelp a break line developed and attracted a few
tubenoses. Two Sooty/Short-tailed type shearwaters, 2 Pink-footed
Shearwaters and a pair of Manx Shearwaters. The two Manx Shearwaters came in
together just along the kelp line and were seen well with 20-60X scopes in
perfect light. The birds were both strikingly black and white showing well
demarcated contrast lines. Both showed clear white vents and no white
wrapping around the rump sides. Faces were both dark with black caps
contrasting with bright white throats. The uppersides of both birds were
pure black and appeared fresh. The undersides were stark white, with no
visible mottling on the underwing. No foot projection was visible beyond the
Black-vented Shearwaters have proven to be very rare out here on SCI.
We are at least 65 miles offshore and perhaps this distance is what keeps
Black-vented numbers almost nil. In a year I have only seen one well, and
just a few other black-and-white type shearwaters that I assumed to be BVSH.
This may not have been the case, as my views of them were not stellar, and
perhaps not good enough in retrospect to identify the birds to species. I
did not truly consider Manx a viable option on San Clemente until today.
One Red-throated Loon passed through with the hundreds of migrating
cormorants. Surprisingly, no alcids were seen. I spent a few hours a few
nights ago listening for Xantus' Murrelets at the former nest site on the
island with no luck. Didn't hear a thing.
Institute for Wildlife Studies
PO Box 357054
San Diego, CA
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