Farallon Islands today
Another magic day out on the water. This time a trip to the Farallon Islands with many great folks from the Golden Gate Audubon Society. Starting in Pillar Point Harbor we once again found the young male Harlequin Duck, as well as many Pigeon Guillemot. The Marbled Murrelet population continues to be good in Half Moon Bay, we saw 7 on our way out through the bay!! Best of all, in the morning while I was loading my car with coffee and treats for the pelagic, as I was in my driveway, I heard a Marbled Murrelet! I thought this may happen one day, and it did, a new Yard Bird…yippee.
As is typically the case recently the first few miles were dense with Common Murre, and Sooty Shearwater as well as a smattering of Humpback Whales, and a couple of Harbor Porpoise. The travel out was a tad bumpy but not enough that it slowed our progress. Many more Sooty Shearwaters and murres as we headed out, as well as a couple of Rhinoceros Auklet. Things were much more fun around Southeast Farallon Island where the Northern Gannet was on Sugarloaf, although no Brown Booby today. Lots of Tufted Puffin as well as oodles of Common Murre, and good numbers of Pigeon Guillemot. Stand out was a single flock of approximately 250 Pigeon Guillemots, the largest single flock I have ever seen. A few Cassin’s Auklets and one Rhinoceros Auklet were around. Of course many pinnipeds including Northern Fur Seal, Harbor Seal, California Sea Lion and Steller’s Sea Lion.
We went offshore from the island and eventually had some fantastic views of Black-footed Albatross, a few Pink-footed Shearwaters and a small pod of Risso’s Dolphin. Sunny skies and very pleasant ride back towards port. Perhaps the highlight for many was encountering a high concentration of Humpback whales on the way back with approximately 10 actively lunge feeding all around our boat, the whales accompanied by several hundred sea lions. The situation was stunning, there is lunge feeding, and then amazing five star, one of a kind, lunge feeding – the latter is what we experienced. Amazing! The anchovy they were feeding on were so thick, that you could see a large purple-blue stain in the water from the massive column of fish. It was awesome, to top it off a Tufted Puffin flew over (relatively close to shore here), and a nearly white and huge Mola mola showed itself to us. The white color was weird, it may actually have been leucistic but I have to research this.
Great birds, great company and awesome show of marine mammals. We are heading out tomorrow again, surely it will be another fantastic day out. Weather is supposed to be calmer for the ride out. We shall see.
The next offshore trip is August 17 and there are still spots left.