SUNDAY 15 Nov 2009 Autumn On The Condor Express Santa Barbara 2009's LAST HURRAH!!
By Terry Hunefeld
A very sore and stiff neck prevented Todd McGrath from turning his head as he welcomed 50+ pelagic birders aboard the Condor Express in Santa Barbara Saturday morning, November 15, 2009.
The twice-delayed trip (Nov 7, Nov 14) got off to a great start in perfect weather; departing the harbor we watched a Parasitic Jaeger tormenting a Royal Tern. We headed due west, paralleling the mainland, traveling 3-4 miles offshore. We encountered a fast-moving, sneaky Minke Whale off Goleta. Sea surface temps (SST) were 60.4 F here in the channel.
2 Peregrine Falcons were spotted on one of the large oil platforms. Before we reached Point Conception we began seeing a few Black-vented Shearwaters, then a jaeger chasing a gull, a Common Murre and then a full-spoon Pomarine Jaeger.
Between Goleta and Pt Conception we saw our first Northern Fulmars of the day, more than 400 Black-vented Shearwaters, a flock of Surf Scoters, a Rhinoceros Auklet, a Short-tailed Shearwater, about 200 Long-beaked Common and 40-60 Rissoís Dolphins. SST dropped to 59 F as we moved off the mainland into the deeper waters west of Pt Conception.
A few miles farther out we saw our first of the dayís Bullerís Shearwaters. Two Sabineís Gulls were seen by a few, 3 Humpback Whales were seen by all. Here we saw about 3 Rhinoceros Auklets, another Common Murre and seven Bonaparteís Gulls.
About 12 nautical miles SSW of Point Arguello we encountered a flock of tubenoses on the water. Captain Matt slowed the mighty Condor Express and crept up on the flock that included a Pink-footed, Flesh-footed and 3 Bullerís Shearwaters, plus a Pomarine Jaeger and Northern Fulmar.
A few miles further west SST registered 57F as we encountered more Bonaparteís Gulls, Cassinís Auklets, Pink-foots, Fulmars and a Northern Fur Seal as we motored over and beyond Arguello Canyon.
By the time we reached the 2000 fathom line, we had counted about 20 Bullerís Shearwaters. Paul Lehman remarked that a lone Brown Pelican was 60 miles offshore was a long way from home out there in 2000 fathom (2-mile) deep waters. We stopped here to lay a slick that eventually attracted 22 Northern Fulmars, a Parasitic Jaeger, a couple of Ashy Storm-Petrels and a Black-footed Albatross.
We turned left (south), following the 2000 fathom line for several miles, then on towards the ď948 spotĒ were we encountered our third (late-in-the-season) Sabineís Gull of the day, more fulmar, another Black-footed Albatross, some Red Phalarope and a few more Ashies.
Around the Rodriguez Dome SST was 57.2 F. We encountered another 70-80 fulmar, an aberrant plumaged Black-footed Albatross, more Cassinís, Reds, Bullerís, a Pom and a Pinky.
Tentative dates for many of the 2010 pelagic trips out of SoCal (San Diego, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, San Pedro, Oceanside, Dana Point) are now posted for your planning and viewing pleasure. 2010 Calendar.
Flesh-footed and Buller's Shearwater (c) Dave Pereksta 15 Nov 2009
Minke Whale 1 Humpback Whale 3 Risso's Dolphin 60 Long-beaked Common Dolphin 200 California Sea Lion 14 Northern Fur Seal 2 Harbor Sea 1
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