San Diego pelagic–Guadalupe Murrelet, Least & Townsend's SP, Nazca & RF Booby, BF Albatrosses, 28 August 2022
Six of us went offshore yesterday 28 August 2022 in search of pelagic birds in San Diego County waters. We made the usual plan and headed due west from Point Loma to The Corner where we put out a chum slick and drifted for two hours. We then moved back east stopping at the Thirty Mile Bank where we ran another chum slick and waited. Sea conditions were "disorganized" so the trip west was quite time consuming at slower speed. We came back almost on a beeline east to Point Loma skirting a few miles above the international line at sea. 76 NM traveled at sea.
Bird numbers were thin until we reached the San Diego Trough and, while headed west looking through a few phalaropes, Nathan French picked out our best find of the day a GUADALUPE MURRELET! We barely saw a handful of alcids all day, the sea surface a mess, so this was wonderful to find.
From the Trough westward we saw plenty of Townsend's Storm-Petrel candidates. Many of these are included under Leach's/Townsend's Storm-Petrel in our eBird checklists because of difficulties separating the closely similar Chapman's Storm-Petrel, the local form of Leach's Storm-Petrel. We will sort through photos in the checklists.
At The Corner we had two BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS visit our slick, but this was bested by three more of this species seen later at the Thirty Mile Bank. The later three all different by extent of face and undertail paler feathering. So five Black-footed Albatross in total for the day. While waiting at The Corner we had two NAZCA BOOBY suddenly appear from the north flying wingtip-to-wingtip! One adult and one near adult. Making close circles around us almost too close for photos.
Other good sightings for the day included several LEAST STORM-PETREL at the slicks, a RED-FOOTED BOOBY that almost sneaked by us in the trough, small numbers of ARCTIC TERN, and a CRAVERI'S MURRELET a few miles from Point Loma.