ANNUAL NEW YEAR'S DAY PELAGIC TRIP From Mission Bay, San Diego Sponsored By: The SDFO - San Diego Field Ornithologists January 1, 2010 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Birders who enjoy pelagic birding savor the flavor of the sea touched with the imminent sense of discovery. The sun, the breeze, the swells, the gentle rocking of the boat can put one in trance; a feeling of being at one with the ocean and life itself. What a way to celebrate the new year. Sue's Photos
And so it came to be that 80 birders boarded the New Seaforth at 7:50a.m. on a sunny New Year's Day morning for the 26th Annual SDFO pelagic.
We departed Mission Bay’s Seaforth Landing at 8:00 under sunny skies finding 5 Common Loons along the way. Everybody aboard got good looks at nine Surfbirds on the rip-rap jetty as we headed to sea leaving a pod of Bottlenose Dolphin at the harbor mouth and Brant Geese in the kelp. BJ's Photos
Our popcorn chum immediately attracted a raucous flock of Heermann's and Western Gulls with a few California Gulls thrown in. A distant whale was called, but we never got a second look at it. Pacific Loons flew by headed south.
Within a couple of mile out we found our first Black-vented Shearwaters of the day coming to the rear of New Seaforth to check out what all the gull commotion was about. A distant dark-bellied shearwater flew by and didn’t return, it was either a Sooty or a Short-tailed Shearwater, the first of two for the day. We began flushing Cassin's Auklets by the dozen. After a couple of jaegers flew by, too distant to identify to species, we came across two Pomarine Jaegers on the water.
By the time we got to the Nine Mile Bank we had Black-vented whizzing by and Cassin’s flushing all around us, mostly at distant binocular views. We did, however, enjoy great close looks at Northern Fulmar, Rhinoceros Auklets and Red Phalaropes both on the water as well as flying. A pod of Pacific White-sided Dolphins came over to investigate and ride the bow for a bit.
The highlight of the day was a Pink-footed Shearwater. This species breeds on two islands off the coast of Chile and are common in San Diego waters in the summer (the Chilean winter) but are very rare here in the winter. It came back to the boat a few times over the next 20 minutes.
We followed the Nine Mile Bank northward past the 178 Spot and turned northeast towards La Jolla. A couple of flocks of Bonaparte's Gulls performed their loosely synchronized choreographed dance up and down over the water, their white leading wing edges flashing in the sun. Multiple flocks of 5-8 Cassin's Auklets continued to jump off the water all around us.
La Jolla Canyon (the deep water canyon north of La Jolla Cove) was teeming with life. Dozens of Bonaparte’s Gulls danced on the water. Western, California and Heermann’s Gulls, Brandt's Cormorants, Brown Pelicans and Common Dolphin were feeding on the bait fish all across the canyon.
From La Jolla we cruised offshore on a gorgeous day about 2 miles off the coast back to Mission Bay where we docked at 1:00 p.m. A great day was had by all.
Just being out to sea – knowing something unusual or spectacular can occur, while expecting nothing – can be addicting. That's the essence of pelagic birding – a big treasure hunt with old and new friends.
Our next San Diego Pelagic trip is the Buena Vista Audubon Society’s Fourth Annual Whales, Seabirds and Marine Mammals pelagic during the heart of Grey Whale season: Saturday, January 30, from Helgren’s in Oceanside Harbor. This trip has never failed to delight both bird-wise and whale-wise. Advance tickets are only $40.
Brant 10 Surf Scoter 19 Common Loon 6 Pacific Loon 22 Western Grebe 4 Eared Grebe 6 N. Fulmar 3 Pink-footed Shearwater 1 Sooty/Short-tailed Shearwater 2 Black-vented Shearwater 50 Brown Pelican 50 Double-c Cormorant 22 Brandt's Cormorant 60 Great Blue Heron 1 Great Egret 1 Black-crowned Night Heron 1 Surfbird 9 Red Phalarope 9 Heermann's Gull 200 Bonaparte's Gull 400 California Gull 90 Western Gull 180 Forster's Tern 6 Royal Tern 2 Pomarine Jaeger 3 Jaeger sp 3 Cassin's Auklet 140 Rhinoceros Auklet 6 Yellow-rumped Warbler 1 on the jetty
Life is short. Seabird often. In memory of Luke Cole “Come on out with us to see what’s out there.”
Southern California Seabirding Trips by: Buena Vista Audubon Society http://www.SoCalBirding.com Los Coronados Islands & Nine Mile Bank all the way to the edge of the Continental Shelf
Jan 1, 2010 San Diego Field Ornithologists SDFO New Year's Day Pelagic Trip Track
This site is owned and operated by the Buena Vista Audubon Society 2202 South Coast Highway, Oceanside, CA 92054 (c) 2007-2010 Buena Vista Audubon Society, Oceanside, California. All rights reserved. All photos copyrighted.