Nature Notes

November 7, 2012

Monterey California Pelagics

Filed under: Animals,California,Pelagic — Tags: , , , , — Harold Stiver @ 6:00 am
Laysan Albatross

Laysan Albatross

Three consecutive trips were being offered by Shearwater Journey’s, at the first of October/ 2007. This operator is one of the most experienced and knowledgeable in the world. The first two were from Monterrey Bay and the last from Bodega Bay. The initial Monterrey Bay trip stayed closer to shore and the second was longer and went further out. All were blessed with reasonable weather conditions. This mix proved helpful in producing a diversity of species. For example, while over a thousand Cassin’s Auklets were seen from the Bodega trip, none were seen on the other two.

Black-footed Albatross were present on all days in good numbers. It breeds primarily in the Hawaiian group of islands and, although found year round off the west coast, its numbers peak between June and August.

On the Bodega Bay trip, we were all excited to see Laysan Albatross , which made several close passes by the boat, a special treat for the many photographers on board.

Northern Fulmars were found on all three days but especially from Bodega Bay. The various plumage details of the rodgersii subspecies were interesting, quite different from white plumaged Atlantic glacialis and auduboni subspecies.

Pink-footed Shearwaters were common on all days, and often followed the boat when it was chumming. A Flesh-footed Shearwater did a fly by early on the Bodega trip, distinguished from the numerous Sooty Shearwaters by its darker wing linings.

The smartly patterned Buller’s Shearwater was also common. After breeding on islands off of New Zealand, it migrates into the North Pacific reaching as far as Alaska.

We caught up with Storm Petrel flocks on the first Monterrey trip and were able to compare details of the common Ashy and Black Storm-Petrels with the occasional Least and a single Wilson’s .

Multiple South Polar Skuas were seen on all trips as were Pomarine Jaegers and a smaller number of Parasitic Jaegers . Although late in the year, a couple of Sabine’s Gulls were seen.

Alcids included Common Murres , Pigeon Guillemots , and Rhinoceros Auklets were common while Cassin’s Auklets were only seen on the Bodega Bay trip. Marbled Murrelets were picked up near shore at Santa Cruz on the second day after Debi made a wise decision to look for them. A single Tufted Puffin on the Bodega Bay trip was my sole sighting contribution.

Both Red/Gray and Red-necked Phalarope were seen in small groups

Cetaceans were represented by numerous Humpback Whales including a wonderful friendly approach on the second day by a radio-tagged humpback that put on a fabulous appearance beside our boat including rubbing up against it. Minke and Blue Whale also showed as well as Pacific White-sided and Northern Right Whale Dolphins, and Dall’s Porpoise. Interesting fish were Ocean Sunfish, Blue and Salmon Shark.

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