Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bodega Bay Pelagic

It is Wednesday evening and I have recently returned from an all day pelagic trip out of Bodega Bay, CA. But I am a bit ahead of myself. Yesterday I spent the morning birding in the Solano Lake area in search of the elusive lawrence's goldfinch which continues to be just that. I did find again its cousin, the lesser goldfinch, along with some other nice birds including the yellow-billed magpie.

I stopped in St. Helena to try the pizza at Tra Vigne. I had eaten in the past at Tra Vigne's fine dining cantinetta and figured the pizzeria was going to be good also. It did not disappoint. I had a very delicious sausage and mushroom pizza with a an amber ale from the Tra Vigne brewery. I would definitely eat more of their pizza if I lived in St. Helena.

Today's pelagic trip began at 7 AM chilly, overcast and a bit misty at times. Fortunately the misty/foggy part dissipated fairly quickly but it stayed chilly all day, and the sun only partly shown for awhile midafternoon. As we were leaving the harbor a wandering tattler flew across the front of the bow which was a good omen for the day because this was a bird I missed earlier in the winter.

The second new bird for the year was a tufted puffin that circled the boat 3 or 4 times right at the 50 fathom water level where Debi Shearwater said they frequently find one. This was about 90 minutes after we left the harbor.

The rest of the day was full of birds including both laysan (top photo) and black-footed (bottom photo) albatrosses (remember to click on the photos to enlarge them). At one point we had between 50 and 60 black-footed on the water behind our boat which is why the laysan flew in to see what all the action was about. Throughout the day we had long-tailed jaegers coming into check us out also, along with the occasional pomarine and parasitic jaeger.

The other trifecta for the day was the double-crested, pelagic and brandt's comorants we saw coming out of the harbor. We also saw red and red-necked phalaropes; cassin's and rhino auklets, ashy storm-petrels; sabine's, california and western gulls; arctic and caspian terns; and pigeon guillemots. The highlight for the captain today was the sperm whales that were only the 2nd ones he had seen in 40 years of taking boats out from Bodega Bay. We also saw blue and humpback whales. One of the humpbacks breached several times, leaping almost completely out of the water twice.

Over the past 2 days 47 more new birds were seen for this week, and the puffin and tattler raise the YTD to 668. The travel map has been updated. Tomorrow I probably will not bird, so my next post will be after the pelagic trip out of Ft. Bragg on Friday. Hopefully we will find a west coast rarity. Stay tuned!


  1. Hey Chris - Very exciting material on the blog. Love the food parts! I know a few good (reliable?) spots for Lawrence's Goldfinch in September if you are back down in the San Diego area then. Take care, Ned Brinkley (

  2. Hey Chris,

    Sorry i missed you in California I just had to get back to Mexico and the heat and Humidity. California was just Way TOO COLD this summer. I did a pelagic trip or two myself, but only because we were Salmon or Tuna fishing! I had a great bird day out of Halfmoon bay when we went for Tuna. We had to go out 75 miles before we found tuna and the birds were amazing. Both the Albatrosses, Buller's Shearwater, , etc, it was good that there were birds because we ended up only getting one Albacore! We ate most of it as Sashimi, but I did manage to sear some with ginger and sesame oil on a bed of organic greens...AWESOME. We did far better on Salmon, of the 9 fish i caught in July the big one was 27 pounds, that one is in the smoker right now getting the cold smoke. The rest were mostly BBQ'd on massive beach gatherings on Point Reyes, and enjoyed by a cast of thousands!

    I am back in Arizona on the 24th of this month to pick up a SMALL group, we are off on the 27th to see Thick-billed Parrots and Eared Quetzal's in Chihuahua...wanna come? I'll be back in Tucson on the 2nd of sept, where will you be? Jen will be in Point Reyes again during that week checking on the girls who are living in Petaluma now.

    You're doing great my friend, sept is pretty wide open for me, so lets keep trying to get together!