Sunday, May 5, 2013

Pelagic Trip from Ventura, CA

I flew out to Los Angeles on Thursday the 25th, and drove up to Santa Barbara to stay with a long time friend.  Originally the pelagic trip was to have gone out of Santa Barbara, but the boat for that trip was put out of commission by a fire.  The trip was rescheduled to go out of Ventura on an Island Packers boat.  Most birders know Island Packers as the company that they have used to go out to Santa Cruz Island to see the scrub jay that resides only there.

My friend Wes Fritz who lives in Santa Maria to the north of Santa Barbara, picked me up at 5:15 Saturday morning on his way down to Ventura.  He was providing all the chumming material--popcorn, fish oil, and beef livers and hearts.  Todd McGrath was one of the leaders of the trip.

We left the dock at 7 sharp, and headed up the channel as it is called between the mainland and the channel islands.  We had a few birds to look at as we made our way thru the channel such as sooty shearwater, red-necked phalarope, cassin's auklet and scrippsi murrelet.  The seas were not bad until we made the turn to head out to the Rodriguez seamount.  For the next 2 hours it was rough going which caused several of the people on board to get seasick.  The protocol is to go to the rail to empty your stomach's contents.  Unfortunately, 2 or 3 people threw up on the table in the cabin where they were seated.  One of the crew was very helpful in cleaning up the mess.

Once we got out to the seamount and turned in a new direction the rough ride subsided, and we were able to watch the seabirds.  One of the better birds of the trip were a few northern fulmars (photo above--click on any photo to enlarge).  We also had a few black-footed albatross, and one very nice laysan albatross (photo below).

My target bird for the trip was a Murphy's petrel which can be seen in the spring on this trip.  A couple of weeks earlier several had been observed on a cruise ship that was being repositioned from San Diego to Washington state, so I was hopeful of our crossing paths with one.  By the end of our 12 hour day we did not have the good fortune of doing so, but the trip was generally a good one except for those who got seasick.  Wes dropped me back in Santa Barbara.  I spent another day with my friend, and then headed up to Kern County, CA to do some spring migration birding.  Stay tuned!

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