Thresher & C Auklet

Brian Fitch

I don't know why some years run themes, or how they get arranged, but I've noticed that it happens with some regularity without my understanding why. 

Until 2021, I had never seen a shark from shore in the city, but today brought my third this year.  I was scoping for albatross yet again, when a large, long-bodied creature leaped completely clear of the surface right in my scope view.  From that angle I did not recognize anything about it.  But within seconds, it breached again, vertically and in good profile to reveal a Thresher Shark; maybe 8 feet in length.  I was able to ID it because of the research from the Great White sighting back in the spring, and the suggestions from a few of you that the species is one that frequents our waters.  It jumped once more before disappearing, and while scanning for more leaps, an alcid drifted into view.

It was all dark above water, with no other visible plumage patterns, and the bill was dark and short.  It patter-flapped across the surface several times without taking flight, showing that the wings were short and rounded.  While it appeared tiny, I wasn't certain of its size until a Heermann's landed where it had been after it drifted behind North Rock, never to be seen again; the bird was half the size of the gull.  I've seen many Cassin's over the years, especially at the Farallons this summer, but this was my first from city shores in 25 years of seawatching.

Other highlights included numerous Elegant Terns, a handful of Parasitic Jaegers, and a single Red-necked Phalarope that landed briefly in the Baths.  Marine mammals were showy too, with three very young sea lions, a Harbor Seal, multiple Harbor Porpoises and two Bottlenosed Dolphins passing by.
Brian Fitch