Noteworthy Half Moon bay pelagic yesterday - Guadalupe Murrelet; tuna, skuas.
It started very slow, thick fog, no birds. It took forever to see our first Sooty Shearwater. But once we were at the Pioneer Canyon, Sabine’s, Buller’s Shearwater, jaegers, Black Storm-Petrel, they all started to show up. It was calm and windless, and the fog lifted giving great visibility. It was an unusual day in many respects, the calm weather was one, but also the fact that there was warm (61F water) that was blue-green. A distant murrelet (likely Scripps’s) started our murrelet searches. In the end we saw 16 murrelets including all that we identified as Scripps’s or were too distant to identify. Additionally two Guadalupe Murrelets were in the Pioneer Canyon (SF county)
Guadalupe Murrelet is among the rarest of the world’s alcids. Only 5000 breeding individuals are thought to exist, some put the population at 7500 total. They breed on offshore islands, and keep to warmer and deeper water than Scripps’s Murrelets so are much less likely to be found on a pelagic than its close relative. As such, they are perhaps the hardest alcid to find in North America, and certainly worldwide it is not much easier. So we were elated to see two of them offshore. This species is Endangered.
All three jaegers were found with an estimate of 8 South Polar Skuas, at one time two were together on the water. That is a lot of bird muscle out there! Hundreds of Sabine’s Gulls were offshore, basically all over the place. We topped it off with a big Black Storm-Petrel flock of two thousand approximately. Four species of storm-petrel were seen, the others were Ashy, Wilson’s and Fork-tailed. Great views of Buller’s Shearwaters wowed folks on the boat. We also may have seen at least one Guadalupe Fur Seal. If the warm water feel is what you are getting from this day, you would be right. It was unusual in that the ocean was dominated by a warmer/offshore water component that included many jumping tuna! We photographed a couple poorly, and saw some close by – we think these were big Bluefin, not Albacore. Record numbers of offshore murrelets, along with the tuna, this was not a normal situation but a lucky one in water types we usually do not encounter here.
To top it off, a Minke Whale was seen on our way back to port. And we started with wonderful views of Marbled Murrelets, and saw three Tufted Puffins on the trip. What a day to be out!!!
We are sold out currently on available dates. But when I get a minute we will be adding two dates as the boat is available to do so. Both late season trips which should be good for albatross, Short-tailed and Flesh-footed shearwaters, and perhaps something unusual! The dates will be Oct 23 and Nov 13. We seldom get out there in November, this is a good date for Laysan Albatross and if we are to find an offshore and non-injured Short-tailed Albatross November might be the time. I will send out a message when we have the dates available on the website.
You can email me (alvaro@...) if you want to be penciled in for either of those dates.