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!