Xantus's Murrelet 17 APR 2010 San Diego (c) Matt Sadowski
Buena Vista Audubon's Annual Spring Pelagic San Diego - Grande Nine Mile Bank and Los Coronados Islands Saturday April 17, 2010 7:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
17 April 2010 Trip Track Courtesy of Matt Sadowski
Grande left the dock at 7a. m. under the watchful eye of a Black-crowned Night Heron on the dock railing. A Least Tern flew over us as we pulled away from Point Loma Sportfishing landing under a rising sun. 5 species of terns were seen: Elegant Terns have returned in numbers (237 seen) plus a few Royals, Least, Forster's and a Caspian.
While the Black-vented Shearwaters have mostly departed our region (only 6 seen) for their breeding grounds in Baja, we enjoyed a great showing of Sooties and Pink-footeds (50) newly arriving from the southern hemisphere. A smattering of migrating Red-necked Phalaropes were seen (7).
We found our first flock of birds about 2.5 miles southwest of Point Loma that included lots of Elegant Terns, 2 BROWN BOOBIES and numerous pelicans, gulls and cormorants.
The swells and the spring breezes were gentle; the sky was sunny - a perfect spring day at sea. We encountered our first Xantus's Murrelets for the day just 5 miles southwest of Point Loma. A couple of miles later we found a Guadalupe Fur Seal, flippers in the classic "jug-handle" position and "dog-like" face keeping an eye on us.
We motored south down the Nine Mile Bank picking up more Xantus's Murrelets (35 for the day!) as they continue to arrive the Coronados Islands area for the breeding season, some allowing us to get surprisingly close. A special treat were 11 Black Storm-Petrels, a sure sign that summer is near. Rhinoceros and Cassin's Auklets were seen here and there, with good looks for everyone aboard. 13 Cassin's and 22 Rhino's were seen during the trip.
Stan Walens and Dave Povey kept a nice gull flock with us pulling in high numbers of Sooty Shearwaters to the wake to see what the fuss was all about. 235 Sooties were counted for the day, on their way north from their breeding grounds in New Zealand.
The whole run southward down the bank was marked with a steady stream of Pink-footed and Sooty Shearwaters and Xantus's Murrelets. We saw a few Bonaparte's Gulls and a cooperative pod of unusually inquisitive Risso's Dolphins came over to check us out. Three solitary Elephant Seals were seen away from the islands.
We also enjoyed several large pods of Bottle-nosed and Common Dolphin, also curious and cooperative, doing some nice bow-riding.
Middle Island had some Elephant Seals lounging along with the California Sea Lions and Harbor Seals.
The Brown Boobies put on a nice show including a downy young chick in the nest being attended to by doting parents. Also seen on the islands were TWO hybrid American X Black Oystercatcher with the expected Black Oystercatchers.
Trip totals are below thanks to Jon Feenstra for keeping the official tally and posting to eBird. Thank you to Todd McGrath and Matt Sadowski for the photos. Data vary by observer depending on his/her position on Grande. All data were entered by Jon into eBird.
Great Blue Heron
American x Black Oystercatcher (hybrid)
Amazona parrot sp.
Everybody agrees.... this has been an amazing winter offshore San Diego. Red-billed Tropicbird at the Nine Mile Bank, a Black-footed Albatross in the shadow of downtown San Diego and a Laysan Albatross soaring above the Coronados Islands just a few miles south of San Diego waters.
Mid April is a special time at sea... the late birds of winter, the early birds of migration and the air of the unexpected. We're going out again for nine hours on the comfortable Grande to explore the Nine Mile Bank and the Coronados Island on Grande.
Grande: big, stable, dry.... she's a great boat, perfect for these pelagics. Should we get a bit of "liquid sunshine" like we did on the Sunday Bird Festival trip in March, Grande's large comfortable galley sports large picture windows so you won't miss that rarity should it fly by. And you can't beat Grande's breakfast burritos and lunch cheeseburgers.
A great group of pelagic experts will be on board to help you understand what you're seeing: Paul Lehman, Guy McCaskie, Jon Feenstra, Todd McGrath, Dave Povey, Mark Billings, Matt Sadowski, Stan Walens and Pete Ginsburg.
Come on out with us to see what's out there. Tickets are $85 the day of the trip. Advance reservations are only $70.
The Buena Vista Audubon's annual spring pelagic trip departs Point Loma Sportfishing at 7:00 a.m. to explore the bird-rich Nine-mile Bank from the comfortable 85-foot live-aboard Grande. On our way out of San Diego harbor we'll motor slowly by the live bait tank barges for super-close-ups of lounging sea lions (with the big bulls baying to beat the band), several hundred Brandt's cormorants, several species of gulls, and dozens of shorebirds, egrets and herons. On our way out of the harbor we'll check for oystercatchers amongst the cobbles of Ballast Point.
9 hours gives us plenty of time to locate and chase feeding flocks of seabirds and marine mammals. We'll make our way northwest to the Nine Mile Bank while stopping to get good looks at any jaegers, shearwaters or alcids we encounter along the way. We'll then turn south and follow the Nine Mile Bank, looking for the "sweet spot" where food is abundant and seabirds are in numbers.
On this trip we expect to see up to four species of dolphins (Bottlenose, Common, Pacific White-sided and Risso's) and numerous seabirds including phalarope, fulmars, shearwaters, auklets, murres, murrelets, and jaegers. This is also a good time of year to find Pink-footed and Sooty (and who knows what other?) We saw two Manx Shearwaters in these waters in early March, 2009 and 63 Northern Fulmars on our 4 Apr 2009 spring pelagic trip.
After exploring the birds and sea mammals at the Nine-mile bank, we'll turn south and cross the international border into Mexico, exploring the waters over the Coronado Canyon along the way. The rugged, scenic Coronados Islands are home to breeding Western Gulls, Brandt's Cormorants, Brown Boobies, Black Oystercatchers and Brown Pelicans.
While at the Coronados Islands we'll observe immense breeding colonies of Brandt's Cormorants, Western Gulls and Brown Pelicans. We'll sift through the Brown Booby colony on Middle Rock and try find the elusive Blue-footed and Masked Boobies that have been seen off and on for the past two years. We expect to see dozens snoozing Harbor Seals and California Sea Lions.
What's great about Grande is that Captain James will put Grande right up next to the cliffs for excellent views of the breeding colonies, nests, and fledglings. Just 100 feet away we should see rocky shore birds such as Black and American Oystercatchers, Wandering Tattler, Black Turnstone and Surfbird. Peregrine Falcons are often seen at the islands; on one of our 2008 trips, we were trying to identify a sparrow flying over the water when a Peregrine stooped and snared dinner right in front of us!
Rarities: An immature Blue-footed Booby was seen with the Brown Booby colony on our Grande October 4, 2008 trip. A Masked Booby was seen 19 Jan 2008 and 10 Feb 2008 on a Bird Festival Pelagic trip. A Blue-footed Booby circled Grande in March 2009 just 5 miles offshore. April 2009 Trip Report
After hunting for American Oystercatchers and inspecting the Brown Booby colony for Blue-footed, Masked or Red-footed Boobies, we'll peek around the back of Middle Island to see if there are any once-thought-extinct Elephant Seals on the cobble beach.
This trip is appropriate for children 10 years and older.
LEADERS for this trip will include west coast pelagic birding & mammal experts:
ADVANCE RESERVATIONS: Tickets are $85 the day of the trip. Advance reservations are only $70.
RESERVATIONS BY PHONE (Check or Credit Card): Telephone Point Loma Sportfishing (the landing) seven days a week at (619) 223-1627. Tell them to wish to make a reservation for a birding trip on Grande and give them the date of departure. ON-LINE RESERVATIONS:Register On-Line. Past trip participants may enter your user name. New participants will be prompted to create a user name and password, then make your reservation for one or more "anglers" (the landing's website refers to customers - you - as anglers). If you have any questions, please telephone the landing at (619) 223-1627.
PAY IN FULL: Some fishing trips allow "anglers" to pay 50% at signup and the balance the day of the trip. Regardless of what the boiler-plate language on the site says, all birding trips requirepayment in full (even if the website or telephone rep gives you an option to pay 50%).
IMPORTANT DETAILS: Click for IMPORTANT INFORMATION about the boat, the landing, driving directions, maps, lodging, weather, refund and cancellation policies, on-board facilities, meals and snacks,
BRING A CHAIR - Grande has a spacious salon/cabin/galley with plenty of comfortable "restaurant-booth" seating for meals, reading, resting socializing or napping. Seating is limited on the spacious, stable aft deck, and you're strongly encouraged to bring a sturdy nylon outdoor folding chair aboard. If you prefer to be where the action is, outside on deck the entire day, Nine hours can be a long time to be on your feet -- you'll appreciate a chair.
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.
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 the Grande and Point Loma Sportfishing's policies regarding reservations, cancellations, refunds and substitutions as well as reviewing driving directions, check-in times, procedures and equipment allowed on the boats.
PARKING: There is a large parking at Point Loma Sportfishing for $5 a day. Enter the lot using the Emerson & Scott entrance and you'll be right at the landing 100 feet inside the parking gate so you can drop off your gear the seek permanent parking. Free parking is available on the residential streets around the harbor, but street parking is very limited in summer months. If the landing parking lot is full, you'll be directed to a lighted off-site self-serve pre-pay parking lot about a block away that has always had space (bring $5 per day in folding money for the lockbox).
GEAR UNLOADING: You may pull into the landing parking lot, unload your gear directly in front of Point Loma Sportfishing and then park in the lot or seek on-street parking. You're not charged if you're in the parking lot for under 30 minutes.
START YOUR DAY STRESS-FREE: We recmmend that you arrive at the landing an hour prior to scheduled departure to allow plenty of time to find the landing, unload or transport gear, obtain a boarding pass at the Point Loma Sportfishing Landing ticket window, sign the manifest, use the landing's restroom, get a cup of coffee, visi with friends and board Grande 30 minutes before scheduled departure. All trips depart on-time without waiting for late-comers. Boarding begins 30 minutes prior to scheduled departure. More tips and hints on our trip preparation page.
WINTER LIMITED PARKING UPDATE: All three landings at the fisherman's waterfront are remodeling during this offseason. This will result in a portion of the parking lot being used as storage for the construction and the day to day landing operations being conducted from temporary office trailers set up in the parking lot. We stongly advise a little more time alloted for customers to find parking on all trips through June 1st.
The Coronados Islands | Trent Stanley
(c) Todd McGrath and Jon Feenstra
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