Murrelets at Dana Point
- I did a seawatch this morning (SAT June 30, 2012/ 7:45-8:50a) for about an hour from Dana Point headlands. Decent numbers of scattered Sooty Shearwaters (~50), one Pink-footed Shearwater and about 5 Black-vented Shearwaters. Also 10+ Black Storm-Petrels in the "zone" about 1/2 mile offshore. A Long-billed Curlew and a Whimbrel were seen flying offshore together in a southerly direction, and three additional Whimbrels fly by together in the same direction a short time later.
Most interesting were 5-6 "Synthliboramphus" murrlets sitting on the water offshore distant but recognizable. I watched the closest pair for over thirty minutes and I got the impression that one was following the other in a fledgling/parent type behavior, although I never could see any feeding or contact between the two. A third bird flew in from the north and circled the pair, then came back and joined the two. Now I was thinking for sure that this was a parent/fledge type situation, but I never saw any overt behavior that would lead me to any definite conclusion one way or another. Nonetheless, I thought that it was notable to have this many murrelets this close to shore, and hope that we can study some of these birds closeup on the July 21st Sea & Sage pelagic trip.
In Dana Point harbor, the Black Oystercatcher nest is still being attended on the inside part of the long (outer) jetty about 150 yards from the end. A pair has been at this site for well over a month now, and likely the same pair has tried to nest at this spot for a few years in a row now, unsuccessfully. A Western Grebe was lingering near the bait barge, and two Bottlenose Dolphin were seen swimming in this area.