Tuesday, September 14, 2010

1/2 Moon Bay Pelagic

By reading my headline you will already have surmised that I did not make the trip to Massachusetts. I was able to speak with the birder who found the common ringed plover on Sunday afternoon. After talking with him about the challenges of the location of the bird, and the fact that he only found it because it flew by him calling, I decided not to risk a 48 hour cross country round trip and instead went out of 1/2 Moon Bay on a pelagic yesterday.

We left the dock a little after 7 AM. This location is relatively unexplored by Debi Shearwater, but in one of the few trips out of 1/2 Moon Bay an extremely rare white-chinned petrel was seen. We fortunately did not have fog, but the skies were overcast until mid afternoon. Our goal was to get far enough out again to reach deep warm water. We were able to do that. Once out there though, we did not find much birdlife, and the only cook's petrel was seen at a great distance by Wes Fritz, the chummer.

We did see all the same birds as we had out of Monterey plus the hypolueca form of the xantu's murrelet. We were hoping that it would be the even rarer craveri's murrelet, but the photos clearly showed it was a hypolueca xantu's. We had good looks at wilson's, ashy and black storm-petrels, and more distant looks at fork-tailed. All 3 jaegers were seen plus laysan and black-footed albatross. We also saw elegant, arctic and common terns; fulmars, common murres and rhino auklets; the usual gulls; and sooty, pink-footed and buller's shearwaters. Probably the birding highlight of the day was a huge flock of red and red-necked phalaropes in migration. We also had lots of marine mammals including humpback, fin and blue whales, and pacific white-sided dolphins (photo above).

It was Debi's birthday which happens also to be my wife's. One of the fishing boats out in the warm water gave Debi 2 albacore tuna for her birthday. Needless to say, she was quite pleased. My wife is at the beach back in NC with other members of my family, and they had a dinner celebration for her including cake and ice cream which I was very sorry to miss. I will be seeing her with 3 other couples in Las Vegas starting next Sunday where we will celebrate her birthday again.

Because we were so far out, it took a long time to return to port, and we did not get back until 7 when we had expected to return about 4. For the week 20 more new birds have been seen, but I am still sitting at 680 birds YTD. There is an updated travel map. Today I plan to do some land birding with Wes, and tomorrow I will be going out of Bodega Bay on a pelagic. Stay tuned!

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