Palos Verdes escarpment, 3/11/23
Loren Wright, Chris Dean and I headed out on Danny's small Parker boat out of San Pedro to check out the Palos Verdes escarpment this morning. The storm swell had mostly subsided with approx 3-4 ft swells and light winds. But there was heavy fog for the most part, which meant that we were always in a bubble with visibility ranging from 20 ft to no more than several hundred ft. We went out from Angels gate to the mouth of Redondo canyon and back, going out approximately along the 1500' line and back on the top of the shelf, with a couple of excursions going a couple miles offshore from the escarpment when we found some current breaks.
In spite of the suboptimal viewing conditions, the birding was excellent:
- The alcid show was spectacular. We tallied 15 Cassin's Auklets and an impressive 165 Rhinoceros Auklets. One of the Rhinos was standing on a piece of driftwood, which I've never seen before. We also had a pair of Scripps's Murrelets and close looks at another pair of ANCIENT MURRELETS along a current break south of Point Vicente.
-Jaegers included a couple of adult Parasitic Jaegers (one of which traded an anchovy with a Heermann's Gull a couple of times) and an adult Pomarine Jaeger.
- A BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE flew over the boat less than a half mile south of Cabrillo Beach. It may be a good time to check Cabrillo Beach for this species with the ongoing storms. There were a few hundred Bonaparte's Gulls, with the largest concentrations along a current break. Also present were a small number of Western, California and Heermann's Gulls.
- We had a couple of Royal Terns and my first-of-spring Elegant Terns.
- We only had 4 individual shearwaters all day, but one of them was a cooperative MANX SHEARWATER that flew a couple of circles near the boat along another current break.
- There was a single Red Phalarope on the entire trip.
Another group is heading out on the boat this afternoon, and maybe they will add a Tufted Puffin or two to the day's list.