Last Saturday and Monday we enjoyed our first two trips to the Farallon Islands. We had weather that was unusual, in that it was a small wave without much wind, but very closely spaced so we had to go slow to get to the islands. But it was worth it, at this time of year one is not all that far off from the peak nesting out there. There were certainly hundreds of thousands of Common Murres, one entire side of Southeast Farallon Island was crammed with them – perhaps 100,000 or so? The numbers are so high, it is difficult to estimate. Many molting Cassin’s Auklets were also at the island, along with a few Rhinoceros Auklets and many Pigeon Guillemots. Southeast Farallon Island is the largest colony of Pigeon Guillemots in the state, as far as I know. The Tufted Puffins were up on Sugarloaf, and we also encountered some on the water and on the trip over to the island. They become more visible on the August trips when they are foraging more actively for the young. A female Brown Booby was on Sugarloaf on both days, and careful study of the bill color suggests it is of the Mexican population (Brewster’s Booby). On Saturday we did see a Fork-tailed Storm Petrel on the way out, and an Ashy Storm Petrel on the way back. Lots of Humpback Whales on the first 10 miles from shore, including an exciting group actively lunge feeding, they gave a good show.
We have one more date to the Farallons with a few spots left – Aug 5. But also keep in mind that on Aug 3 we are doing our “summer pelagic” looking for albatross and offshore birds. We have had some very good birds early in the season – Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Salvin’s Albatross come to mind. So we are hopeful for a goodie, although great luck is needed to see one. Otherwise we are hoping to find storm petrel flocks and hopefully albatross densities, this is a good time of year for Laysan Albatross. You can book directly here:
Note that water is warming to our south, but in our area we still have a well defined cold water area inside of the continental shelf. An interesting gradient towards warmer (“blue”) water is forming offshore from Half Moon Bay. Perhaps this will be more developed by August, that situation is always interesting for us. I hope it means that the offshore murrelets will be around, along with other southerners.