A quick summary of our very fun pelagic out of Pillar Point Harbor today in calm weather. On our way out we found the first of a few Black-vented Shearwaters, most in San Mateo but one was in San Francisco county. A few Ashy Storm-Petrels were in the Pioneer Canyon, and then farther south we found Black Storm-Petrels. Shearwaters were fantastically well represented, Buller’s throughout the trip, and then the most common was Pink-footed. Sooty Shearwaters were about in small numbers, and eventually we found a few Short-tailed Shearwaters in both counties, as well as nice views of Flesh-footed Shearwaters in both counties. We saw two or three, it was difficult to keep track! Six species of shearwaters, not bad. What was great were the nice views of all of the shearwaters, with even a good study of Short-tail which can be difficult to see well in the field. Several South Polar Skuas were found, as well as Pomarine and Parasitic jaeger. But the surprise of the day was when shouts of booby came from the stern of the boat, we assumed there was a fly by happening but no, the bird was sitting in the water. Wow, what a disconcerting look this bird had! From a distance it almost resembled a Blue-footed, but as we got closer it was clear that it was one of the Nazca/Masked. However it was a year old bird. Several keys led us to Nazca Booby, lack of collar on the neck, amount of dark markings on the underwing, extensive dark remaining on the head, and the bill color which was dusky at base, and more pinkish and then yellow at tip. As far as we know this is the first Nazca Booby seen by birders in San Mateo, the first in the county was earlier this year, photographed by fishermen on their boat. The bird was on the county line and flew into San Francisco before exiting to San Mateo, so a two county bird! Incredibly, with all of these birds we did not see an albatross today unfortunately. A surprise flock of Aleutian Cackling Geese were well offshore, and then a single one sitting on the water was bizarre to see.
Marine mammals were spectacular with approximately a dozen Blue Whales, many Humpback Whales and a huge (2000?) pod of Pacific White-sided Dolphin with Northern Right Whale Dolphins. Bottlenose Dolphins and Harbor Porpoise were also seen close to shore. Blue and Salmon shark were seen!
Booby photos here:
Flesh foot and Short-tailed photos here:
What an amazing day. We head out next weekend, but the trip on the 24th is the only one with open spots remaining before the end of the season. You can sign up here: