Santa Cruz Island (Island Scrub Jay) Then Out To Sea!
8-Hour Pelagic Trip From Oxnard Island Packers
Saturday, June 6, 2009 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Sponsored by: Los Angeles Audubon Society
By: Terry Hunefeld
June 6, 2009 was the annual Los Angeles Audubon Society Island Scrub-Jay/pelagic trip. We left Oxnard harbor at approximately 8:00 a.m. aboard the Island Packer’s boat, Vanguard.
On the way to Santa Cruz Island we saw hundreds of Sooty Shearwaters and enjoyed satisfying close encounters with a handful of Pink-footeds. We saw nearly a dozen distant, jumpy Xantus’s Murrelets, and finally found one that would sit still long enough to get our many out-of-state guests excellent looks.
A highlight of this portion of the trip was when senior leader Todd McGrath sighted two BLUE WHALES in the distance, then worked with the captain to get Vanguard so close that they surfaced right at the boat! All participants had great close up views of the massive blow holes and tiny dorsal fins. Blue Whales are the largest of the baleen whales and are the largest animals ever to have lived. Baleen whales are larger than the toothed whales and have two blow holes.
Senior Leader Todd McGrath gave color commentary on Blue Whales, relating that they have hearts the size of Volkswagen Beetles and aortas large enough for a human to crawl through. The largest recorded Blue Whale was 134 feet long. Adult females here average 70 to 80 feet long with females slightly larger than males. Baleen whales have baleen plates instead of teeth, which they use to filter small particles of food, especially krill, a shrimp-like crustacean also favored by tiny Cassin’s Auklets – so there you have one of the smallest animals on the world sharing the same diet with the largest animal ever to have lived on the face of they earth (yes, much larger than the largest dinosaurs).
When we arrived at Prisoner’s Harbor, we explored the island for about an hour looking for Island Scrub-Jays (we found three after a 20 minute search) then re-boarded Vanguard and motored east, then south, along the north and east sides of Santa Cruz Island observing Pelagic Cormorants, Black Oystercatchers and Pigeon Guillemots as leader Dave Pereksta, a senior official with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, brought participants up to speed on the conservation efforts and successes on the Channel Islands.
We observed upwards of 40 Pigeon Guillemots, a species that breeds on the Channel Islands in the summer then migrates… well, in his book Ocean Birds Of the Near Shore Pacific, Richard Stallcup says, “The wonderful part is that nobody knows for sure where they go.” He then sticks his neck out by continuing, “It is highly doubtful they go east, as the high deserts of Nevada and Utah are not suitable for an alcid’s foraging abilities…” Experts are pretty sure Pigeon Guillemots migrate north in the winter to waters offshore Oregon and Washington and beyond (although exactly where they go in the winter is still somewhat of a mystery).
We sailed south of the gap between Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands via the Anacapa Passage, observing lots more Sooty Shearwaters and nearly a dozen Pink-footeds. The day’s highlight came when, just 2 miles south of Anacapa Island, a BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS thrilled all the participants with repeated fly-bys and put-downs in the wake, absolutely convinced that the raucous gulls were on to something, but unable to find anything but popcorn.
It was a perfect day at sea. The was a bit of chop in the water, but seas were calm and everybody aboard seemed very comfortable. Everybody saw Island Scrub-Jays, Blue Whales and a Black-footed Albatross.
TRIP LIST FOLLOWS PHOTOS
Blue Whale (c) Dave Pereksta
Black-footed Albatross (c) Dave Pereksta
Xantus's Murrelet (c) Dave Pereksta
Island Scrub-Jay (c) Dave Pereksta
Waters between Oxnard Harbor and Santa Cruz Island, deep water and flats south of and between Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands, the ride from Anacapa back to the harbor.
Santa Cruz Island (seen on the island and pelagic less than 200m from shore)
Brown Pelican 80 Double-crested Cormorant 1 Brandt’s Cormorant 80 Pelagic Cormorant 5 Red-tailed Hawk 1 Peregrine Falcon 1 Black Oystercatcher 6 Western Gull 220 Pigeon Guillemot 42 Anna’s Hummingbird 1 Allen’s Hummingbird 2 WT Swift 1 Pacific-slope Flycatcher 2 Black Phoebe 1 Ash-throated Flycatcher 2 Hutton’s Vireo 1 Island Scrub-Jay 3 Common Raven 1 Barn Swallow 25 Bewick’s Wren 1 Orange-crowned Warbler 1 Spotted Towhee 1 House Finch 12 Lesser Goldfinch 2
South shore of Anacapa Island
Brown Pelican 300 Brandt’s Cormorant 250 Pelagic Cormorant 2 Western Gull 500 Pigeon Guillemot 5
The annual Los Angeles Audubon Scrub Jay Trip to Santa Cruz Island is the best way to see the endemic Island Scrub Jay. In 2008 en route to and from the islands we counted 245 Xantus's Murrelets, 318 Cassin's Auklets, 60 Pigeon Guillemots, more than 100 Surf Scoters and 3 species of shearwaters.
We will land at Prisoner’s Cove where the endemic Island Scrub-Jay is easily seen. Then, we will cruise out to sea for pelagic birding, returning by Anacapa Island. Birds seen on prior trips: Northern Fulmar; Sooty and Pink-footed shearwaters; rocky shorebirds; South Polar Skua; Pomarine and Parasitic jeagers; Sabine’s Gull; Pigeon Guillemot; Xantus Murrelet. Uncommon birds seen on prior trips: Flesh-footed Shearwater; American Oystercatcher; and Tufted Puffin. A Brown Booby has been seen on Anacapa Island. A box lunch and breakfast can be ordered at the dockside deli. More info
ADVANCE RESERVATIONS: Advance reservations are $95
IMPORTANT DETAILS: Click for important logistic information about the boat, the landing, driving directions, maps, lodging, weather, refund and cancellation policies, on-board facilities, meals and snacks,
HOW TO PREPARE: Click for tips on how to prepare, what to wear, what to bring and when to arrive.
EXPECTED SPECIES: What we see depends on the season, the itinerary and how far from shore we venture. Learn more about what species we will probably see and what species might be seen.
NEW! FOUR WAYS TO MAKE A LOS ANGELES AUDUBON PELAGIC RESERVATION
Los Angeles Audubon Pelagic Reservation Instructions 2009 Option 1 MAIL A CHECK OR CREDIT CARD INFO: Mail your check or Credit Card information and a SASE (for trip confirmation and information flyer) for each trip requested to: Los Angeles Audubon - Pelagics P.O. Box 931057 Los Angeles, CA 90093-1057 Option 2 TELEPHONE WITH CREDIT CARD: Call Los Angeles Audubon at (323) 876-0202 (Mon. - Thur.) 9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Option 3 EMAIL WITH CREDIT CARD: E-Mail reservation request to: firstname.lastname@example.org Option 4 FAX WITH CREDIT CARD: Fax reservation request to: (323) 876-7609
CREDIT CARD USE: You may now use Mastercard, Visa or Discover to charge your trip. A small processing fee will be added. Please be sure to include the trip you wish to reserve and provide the cardholder?s billing name, card number, expiration date, and the last 3 numbers (security code) from the reverse of your card. Also, provide the name(s), mailing address, contact telephone number, and email address (if used) for each person requesting a reservation. If you have any questions, please telephone the Los Angeles Audubon at (323) 876-0202 (Mon. - Thur.) 9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
CANCELLATION POLICY: Trips on this website are sponsored by different organizations using different boats departing from different landings and harbors. As such, policies vary from trip to trip. Prior to registering, please familiarize yourself with your trip's policies regarding reservations, cancellations, refunds and substitutions as well as reviewing driving directions, check-in times, procedures and equipment allowed on the boats.
Before setting out on any Los Angeles Audubon pelagic trip, please call (323) 874-1318, #4 for a recorded announcement of last moment changes.
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