Sunday, September 19, 2010

Condor Express--6th Pelagic Trip in 10 Days

This morning I was up before 6 to make my 7 AM departure on the Condor Express (photo above) out of Santa Barbara Harbor. I went out on the Condor back on July 31st and had a great day of seabirding so I was looking forward to today. We motored out thru the fog, and headed south of the Channel Islands because to the west the winds were gusting to 25 knots. We did not see much for the 1st couple of hours, but then found some spots where there were birds.

The best bird of the day was a fork-tailed storm-petrel which is very rare this far south in California. Todd McGrath the trip leader and one of California's premier pelagic birders said he has only seen maybe 15 fork-tailed storm-petrels in his 100 plus pelagic trips in southern California. We also saw wilson's, ashy, black and least storm-petrels. Overall, there were not large numbers of seabirds today, but pretty good diversity. I saw 21 new birds for this week out on the boat, but no new birds for the year.

I still had an enjoyable day chatting with a fellow from Sarasota who has birded lots of places; and a woman from Knoxville who was curious about my big year. I also saw a birder on the Condor that I have seen on every trip I have taken on this boat. He tends to stand out because of his unique binoculars. He has added plastic extensions to the bottom of the binocs I assume to keep sea spray off the bottom lenses. He arrives with his birding attire in a large see thru plastic bag, and dons his gear at the dock. I would guess he is in his fifties with a beard and a topknot style ponytail which you can only see before he puts on all his warm clothing and rain gear. The rain gear is red and looks quite well used.

After the Condor docked, I hit the road about 4 PM hoping to get down to the Los Angeles river in Long Beach to try again for a ruff. The traffic delayed me, and then finding the right location meant it was all but dark when I arrived at the river. I could see silhouettes only. As a result, I am staying tonite in a motel near the river and plan to be out looking for the ruff at first light before making my drive up to Las Vegas to meet my wife and friends. Stay tuned!


  1. Hope you get that ruff, but if not, you sure have given it a college try! Have fun in LV and say howdy to the crew.

  2. > I also saw a birder on the Condor [...]
    > He tends to stand out because of his
    > unique binoculars.

    That would be Paul Keller.

    - Wim van Dam