Re: SF Seabirds: July 27 & 28
Debi et al.
These sound like fantastic trips! Your comment about Wilson's
Storm-Petrels piqued my interest, and makes me wonder if the species may be
on an increase off central California perhaps? I guess it will take a few
more years of higher numbers to tell for sure. A week earlier on July 21st
(http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S14737852 this checklist
includes some photos) we saw 15 Wilson's in San Francisco County, all that
we saw well were molting adults. Last year in adjacent San Mateo County we
saw perhaps 55 Wilson's on Aug 25, a number that I had thought was
impossible before I saw it. Here is that checklist with some photos:
We shall see longer term if these are "blips" or in fact local increases
in non-breeding Wilson's Storm Petrels. It is interesting for various
reasons, but one is that from what is known these are the Antarctic breeding
Wilson's Storm Petrels, not the ones that breed closer to us in Chile. Most
of the Antarctic breeders appear to go to the North Atlantic where they can
be abundant, and we get this little smattering of them. But perhaps there is
a shifting of the wintering (from the Wilson's perspective) population out
our way? The subspecies of Wilson's are a bit of a mess, but the biggest
Wilson's are known off Australia (exasperatus), and it seems that specimens
of Wilson's from California are smaller in size, matching the birds which
spend the non breeding season in the North Atlantic rather than birds from
the other side of the Pacific. So if long term we get more of them here,
they are most likely from that population that would otherwise be in the
North Atlantic...I guess. Differences from the birds in the Atlantic, is
that we get nearly none in spring here, while they are common in spring and
early summer out east. As well, they become rare north of California, but
reach well to the north in the Atlantic, of course this may just be due to
the water being so much warmer in the Atlantic. In any case their
latitudinal distribution and timing here is different than out east.
I am heading out on Aug 18th to SF waters, we shall see if they are still
From: SFBirds@... [mailto:SFBirds@...] On Behalf Of
Sent: Thursday, August 01, 2013 6:55 PM
Subject: [SFBirds] SF Seabirds: July 27 & 28
Our first pelagic trips of the season, departing from Half Moon Bay and
heading to the Pioneer Canyon both days were held on July 27 & 28th.
Dreamy-smooth waters, nearly greasy, dominated July 27th with no wind
whatsoever. Each trip was over 11 hours. Many photographers on board managed
to obtain some wonderful images.
Highlights on July 27th included a "grand slam" on all of the jaegers,
including SOUTH POLAR SKUA, a first of season, ARCTIC TERN, several good
sized flocks of SABINE'S GULLS and stunning views of both RED and RED-NECKED
PHALAROPES and a second year TUFTED PUFFIN. It was an amazing day for
cetaceans: humpback whales (43), blue whales (3) and a single fin whale that
circled our vessel. Pacific white-sided dolphins were busily feeding and
both harbor and Dall's porpoises were spotted.
Winds less than 5 to 10 knots were present on July 28th. This turned out to
be a good thing, as more of the tube noses were flying, rather than sitting
on the water. Highlights included a LAYSAN ALBATROSS which flew right up to
the vessel and several FORK-TAILED STORM-PETRELS which also flew very close
to the boat. Both blue and humpback whales were spotted, along with Risso's
and Northern right whale dolphins.
Seabirds which we observed in SAN FRANCISCO COUNTY included:
JULY 27: BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS (12); NORTHERN FULMAR (1); PINK-FOOTED
SHEARWATER (70), BULLER'S SHEARWATER (1), SOOTY SHEARWATER (180); WILSON'S
STORM-PETREL (9- a high count for this county), ASHY STORM-PETREL (1070),
BLACK STORM-PETREL (1); RED PHALAROPE (35), RED-NECKED PHALAROPE (705),
SOUTH POLAR SKUA (1), POMARINE JAEGER (2), PARASITIC JAEGER (2), LONG-TAILED
JAEGER (3); SABINE'S GULL (207), ARCTIC TERN (1), COMMON MURRE (12), PIGEON
GUILLEMOT (2), SCRIPP'S MURRELET (1), CASSIN'S AUKLET (15), TUFTED PUFFIN
JULY 28: LAYSAN ALBATROSS (1), BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS (13), NORTHERN FULMAR
(3), PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER (400), BULLER'S SHEARWATER (2), SOOTY SHEARWATER
(250), FORK-TAILED STORM-PETREL (3), ASHY STORM-PETREL (70), RED-NECKED
PHALAROPE (100), RED PHALAROPE (12), SOUTH POLAR SKUA (2), PARASITIC JAEGER
(3), POMARINE JAEGER (4), LONG-TAILED JAEGER (4), SABINE'S GULL (100),
COMMON MURRE (75), CASSIN'S AUKLET (3), RHINOCEROS AUKLET (3).
Sea surface temperatures were normal for this time of year, ranging from
55-57 F. The total species tally was quite good for this early in the "fall"
season, however. We welcome you on board with our friendly and knowledgable
leaders. Our complete program of trips can be found at:
Shearwater Journeys, Inc.
PO Box 190
Hollister, CA 95024
Birding Down Under: SubAntarctic Islands, November 9 - 25, 2014 with Debi