(Mission Bay) Peter Ginsburg, Thomas Blackman, Steve Brad, and i ran offshore Thursday July 9, 2009. We'd hoped to run out towards the 43 Fathom spot, but found a short steep swell in that direction conducive to a slower pace, so set our sights on the 30 Mile Bank. As we left the channel we had a Black Skimmer cross the bow.
Further offshore we saw a peep size sandpiper flying north (?), then a group of alt. plumage (brown tones) shorebirds (10-15) flying south. Our first group of Red-necked Phalaropes were seen at about 5 miles, and we had small groups of 2 to 6 all the way to the 30 Mile Bank.
Around the inside of the 178 spot (12 n.miles) we found the best feeding flock of the day, made up of Sooty Shearwaters, and Elegant Terns, with a Pink-foot or two mixed in. This area also had a few Black Storm Petrels circling the area, and from here on out we almost always could find one or two somewhere on the horizon.
The Thirty Mile Bank was quiet, our chum and oil drip just did not attract more than an occasional Black Storm Petrel, or Sooty Shearwater. We did have a mystery shearwater, dark winged (top and bottom), dark bellied, languid flight (like Pink-foot) no detectable pale on the bill. Leg color not seen. (?).
A note from Todd McGrath: A dark-bill sounds very bad for flesh-foot, and that bill stands out a mile away. It is possible you had a very dark Pink-foot. We photographed one off Monterey in 1997 that was virtually as dark as a flesh-foot, including a dark bill. There is small population of darkish birds on one of the breeding islands. There have been one or two other reports since.
We did get nice comparison looks of an Ashy Storm-Petrel, with two Blacks. Interestingly there seem to be a little agressive action on the part of one the Blacks towards the smaller Ashy.
The Bank also produced two Elephant Seals, widely spaced. One sunk out as we approached as is normal for this marine mammal, but the other allowed us a quite close approach, seemingly as interested in us as we were of it.
Near the southeast coner of the Bank we found two large kelp paddies, both covered with loafing terns. The first with 10-12 Elegants, and 2 Least, The second with 20-25 Elegants, 4 Least, and 3-4 Commons. all of this at greater than 20 n.miles off the beach.
Back near the 9 Mile Bank we had the best Common Dolphin show I'd seen in awhile. We had dolphin on all sides and under the bow. this was a really acrobatic group with many 15 ft leaps, with splash downs like bombs going off. Fun to hear four old gray beards like us oohing, and aahing. You can tell where we were on the GPS track by the swiqqley line near the bank on the south end of the route.
The last surprise of the day was back in the bay. We were checking the Mariners Point, Least Tern colony (no Least Terns seen). We had a group of 75+ Heermann's Gulls including an all white adult (red bill). photo below
Pink-ft Shearwater 33 Sooty Shearwater 221 Black Storm Petrel 106 Ashy Storm Petrel 2-3 Brown Pelican 52 Brandt's Cormorant 1 Red-necked Phalaropes 32 Heermann's Gull 5 (plus 130 more in M.B. including luecistic adult) Western Gull 35 Least Tern 7 all seen at 20 n. miles or more. Common Tern 3-4 Elegant Tern 143 Royal Tern 1 Black Skimmer 1 Cassin's Auklet 6
UPCOMING SOCAL PELAGIC TRIPS
The September Searcher live-aboard 5-day deep water appears to be sold out, there may possibly be one remaining space.
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