Sunday, October 24, 2010

Still Home; Pelagic Trip Review

It is Sunday afternoon the 24th, and I am still in Chapel Hill. I did not make the trip out yesterday to northern California for the pelagic trip that was scheduled to go out this morning from Bodega Bay. I spoke with the trip organizer yesterday as he stood on the dock having canceled yesterday's small boat trip because of high winds and seas. He told me that barring a major weather change that this morning's larger boat trip would also not be able to go out. And in the past 1/2 hour I received an email from a friend who was at the dock this AM saying that today's trip was also scratched. While I am happy that I was not there to hear the bad news firsthand, I am sorry for all those who made the trip to Bodega Bay only to find foul weather.

So barring some last minute pelagic trip later this fall, I have completed all the seabirding trips for my big year. I made a total of 23 pelagic trips which is more than all the pelagic trips I have done over the years prior to 2010. I had 2 other trips planned that were weathered out. The number of different seabird species seen on these 22 trips totaled 53.

I saw all the birds you would reasonably expect to see plus several rarer ones including great skua; white-tailed and red-billed tropicbirds; Laysan albatross; Fea's, Hawaiian and Cook's petrels; streaked and flesh-footed shearwaters; both types of Xantu's murrelet; and European storm-petrel. Some other hoped for rarities that I have seen in years past but missed in 2010 included herald and Bermuda petrel, Craveri's murrelet and white-faced storm-petrel. Overall, I had a very successful series of pelagic trips which is one reason my big year total is so high.

My last posting generated a question about whether Eurasian skylarks were still being seen on the San Juan Islands in Washington state. Unfortunately the small colony that had been established there as a result of the larger group on Vancouver Island, BC has been extirpated, probably by feral cats. So this is not a bird that I might be able to add to my list by the end of 2010. However, I will be going to Washington state in December in hopes of seeing gyrfalcons and rock sandpipers.

So far in week #43 I have not birded much, as a result the 2 photos above were taken last week at Plum Island when I saw the curlew sandpiper. The top photo is mostly of sanderlings and black-bellied plovers, and the bottom one is of semi-palmated plovers, and western and semi-palmated sandpipers (click on photos to enlarge). I did look again yesterday for rusty blackbirds but to no avail. I was pleased to see a red-breasted nuthatch at my feeder--we do not see these every winter at my house. I will try for the rusty again in the next couple of days while watching to see what shows up on the internet. Stay tuned!


  1. So what Code 1-3 birds are you still missing?

  2. Chris,
    I don't want to stop you from a trip to Washington but you may want to consider South Dakota for gyrfalcon. I'm not kidding. They usually gather in pretty good numbers in the grasslands around Pierre.
    Keith Corliss(the guy on your boat trip to Santa Cruz who spotted the island scrub jay)

  3. Montana usually gets a good number of Gyrfalcons too...but if you can get one in Washington while looking for Rock Sandpipers, that'd be nice. Seem to be tougher to find and relocate along the coast than in the upper plains states once they show up.