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Streaked Shearwater Aug 17, 02

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  • Debi Shearwater
    This is a late report of one of the most spectacular trips in twentyseven years and nearly 1500 boat trips organized by Shearwater Journeys. The highlights
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 7, 2002
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      This is a late report of one of the most spectacular trips in twentyseven
      years and nearly 1500 boat trips organized by Shearwater Journeys. The
      highlights included: STREAKED SHEARWATER, YELLOW-BILLED LOON, XANTUS'
      MURRELET, SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATER, and TUFTED PUFFIN. By all accounts it was
      one of the top ten pelagic trips that we have ever done.

      Shearwater Journeys had just completed six of the first fall boat trips
      along the central California coast. Each one was quite spectacular (see
      other reports), and the air was just buzzing with anticipation and
      aggitation, especially among the leaders. Two nights prior to this trip, I
      mentioned to a friend of mine that I could just feel sparks, like
      electricity vibrating amongst the leaders! We were jazzed. We were juiced up
      for this sold-out trip. The leaders were: Jim Danzenbaker, Jon Dunn, Tristan
      McKee, Peter Pyle, Mike San Miguel, Brian Sullivan, and Debra Shearwater
      (one leader for every five passengers!). The participants were just as
      interesting. They hailed from 14 different states, and many were "regular"
      Shearwater Journeys" patrons for over twentyfive years.

      I arrived in Fort Bragg just prior to sunset the night before the trip. I
      made a short walk to Glass Beach where I spotted 2 TUFTED PUFFINS flying by.
      I was met by Jon Dunn, Mike San Miguel, and Guy McCaskie who were also
      headed to the beach. Immediately, Jon Dunn zeroed in on a passing MANX
      SHEARWATER (second Mendo county record). After excellent views through the
      scope, he then pointed out an ARCTIC TERN feeding amongst the COMMON TERNS.
      Good spot! This just added to our anticipation of the next days' trip.

      We departed from Noyo Harbor, Fort Bragg at 7 am. Some fog and light seas
      greeted us once we passed the numerous PIGEON GUILLEMOTS along the
      breakwater. About six miles offshore, we encountered two shrimpers pulling
      their nets with thousands of birds following them. This was exciting enough,
      as one always hopes for that rare seabird to somehow materialize out of this
      giant, swirling mix of wings and feet. But, alas, after spending about one
      and a half hours with these birds, I sensed the urge among the passengers to
      move on. On to what? I was happy learning about shrimp boats and how they
      fish. I was happy watching the nets winding around the spools. True, we were
      only finding about 2000 gulls, 50 BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES, 150 PINK-FOOTED
      SHEARWATERS, and only 1 BULLER'S SHEARWATER in this mass of birds. Oddly, no
      jaegers were with them. Oh, but those birders long for the offshore.

      So, off we went. Twenty-some miles to Noyo Canyon. And, yes, this is where
      we found jaegers, SOUTH POLAR SKUAS, SABINE'S GULLS, knock-out views of 4
      XANTUS' MURRELETS, 1 TUFTED PUFFIN, more BULLER'S SHEARWATERS, 1
      SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATER, outstanding views and photo ops of 1 FLESH-FOOTED
      SHEARWATER, and more. Now, we were all pleased. For me, it was the first
      time that I have ever heard a Flesh-footed Shearwater vocalize! It sounded
      just like a Pink-foot. The seas had picked up a little. So, the skipper and
      I decided to head back to the shrimpers, and then to check along the inner
      coast for MARBLED MURRELETS, hoping for LONG-BILLED MURRELET. I keep
      pointing out that we are never going to find the Long-billed Murrelets
      because we do not spend enough time birding from the boat close to shore. As
      I said, our hopes were quite high. In addition, we were into the noon hour.
      This is a special time on pelagic trips. We have found a huge proportion of
      rare seabirds after the noon hour! When everyone is feeling dozy, we down
      our coffee and come alive!

      Back at the shrimp boats, I finally sat down at the stern for the first time
      during the trip. After one or two moments, someone said, "Manx Shearwater."
      Well, I thought I guess I'll have to get up to look at this bird. I saw a
      large, white shearwater flying with a Pink-footed Shearwater. Unknown to me,
      Jon Dunn had already spotted the rare STREAKED SHEARWATER on the bow and
      was calling it out to everyone up there! Somehow, it got translated to Manx
      at the stern. Well, that's how boat communication can go. But, not for long.
      Although I didn't hear Jon, I was soon shouting STREAKED SHEARWATER, too. It
      was 2:13 pm. No worries, the shearwater flew around us for 45 minutes, being
      chased by Pink-foots, and allowing for excellent views, photographs, and
      even for some folks to get bored enough to sit down and stop looking! There
      are fewer than 10 records of Streaked Shearwater for all of North America,
      nearly all having occurred in California (mostly Monterey Bay). In Japan, it
      is a nearshore species.

      Finally, we wandered near shore to hunt among the MARBLED MURRELETS. Jon
      Dunn turned up another goodie¬ča YELLOW-BILLED LOON! It was off of Juan
      Creek, and was apparently seen from shore later by birders. A great many
      folks ended and celebrated the day, no doubt, happily checking off their
      lists. It was a truly magical day. The electricity that sparked us will be
      with us all season. It may well be the best pelagic trip of the year on the
      California coast!

      This is the fourth year that Shearwater Journeys has organized trips from
      Fort Bragg. Every year has produced a mega-rarity seabird. 2002: STREAKED
      SHEARWATER, YELLOW-BILLED LOON; 2001: DARK-RUMPED PETREL; 2000: DARK-RUMPED
      PETREL, MARKHAM'S STORM-PETREL 1999: WHITE-CAPPED (SHY) ALBATROSS.
      Certainly, we will have a nice selection of trips from this area which can
      be combined with other trips in 2003. Watch our web site. The entire species
      list for the August 17, 2002 trip follows. Every species listed was seen
      well by every passenger.

      The Streaked Shearwater details are: first sighted at 2:13 by Jon Dunn at
      3938.799/12353.802, about 6 miles west of Westport, sea surface temperature:
      56.1 F, depth: 420 feet, heading south. Last sighted: 2:55 pm at
      3938.569/12354.355.

      AUGUST 17, 2002 FORT BRAGG PELAGIC TRIP BY SHEARWATER JOURNEYS
      YELLOW-BILLED LOON-1, SY
      BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS-75-85
      SOOTY SHEARWATER-65
      SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATER-1
      PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER-350
      BULLER'S SHEARWATER-18-20
      FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER-1
      NORTHERN FULMAR-1
      POMARINE JAEGER-8
      PARASITIC/POMARINE JAEGER-2
      PARASITIC JAEGER-1
      LONG-TAILED JAEGER-35
      SOUTH POLAR SKUA-5
      GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL-1 (in the harbor)
      WESTERN GULL-1000
      CALIFORNIA GULL-1500
      HEERMANN'S GULL-4
      RING-BILLED GULL-2, juveniles
      SABINE'S GULL-20 (2 juveniles)
      ARCTIC/COMMON TERN-4
      COMMON TERN-2
      COMMON MURRE-400
      PIGEON GUILLEMOT-70
      RHINOCEROS AUKLET-40
      CASSIN'S AUKLET-8
      XANTUS' MURRELET (scrippsi)-4
      MARBLED MURRELT-10
      TUFTED PUFFIN-1 adult
      RED-NECKED PHALAROPE-75
      RED PHALAROPE-5
      LEAST SANDPIPER-4
      WESTERN SANDPIPER-20
      LESSER YELLOWLEGS-1
      NORTHERN PINTAIL-100
      NORTHERN SHOVELER-4
      MINKE WHALE-1
      PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED DOLPIN-12-15
      HARBOR PORPOISE-3
      STELLER'S SEA LION-1
      CALIFORNIA SEA LION-+

      ---
      http://www.shearwaterjourneys.com
      Debi Shearwater <debiluv@...>
      Shearwater Journeys
      P.O. Box 190
      Hollister, CA 95024
      831-637-8527
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