SAN CLEMENTE BASIN, CORTES & TANNER BANKS, BUTTERFLY BANK
In Search Of Rarities: Guadalupe Murrelet, Red-Billed Tropicbird, Shearwaters, and Storm-Petrels
San Diego and Los Angeles County Waters - 48 Hours
7 a.m. Saturday – 6 a.m. Monday, October 12-14, 2013
Check-in Time: 6:00 - 6:15 a.m. Boarding Time: 6:20 a.m. On-Board Orientation: 6:40 a.m. GATES CLOSED AND LOCKED: 6:45 a.m. sharp Depart: 7:00 a.m. Return: 6:00 a.m. Monday, plenty of time for flights out of San Diego airport after 8:30 a.m.
REGISTRATION: EARLY-BIRD REGISTRATION is $230 through Sept 20. Registration is $250 after Sept 21. Late Registration is $275 after Oct 5.
RESERVATIONS: 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.
San Diego Flesh-footed Shearwater (c) Dave Pereksta 4 Oct 2010
Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel (c) Matt Sadowski 2 Oct 2010
This weekend double-overnight trip spends one day exploring the inshore banks out to 35 miles, as well as deeper waters south of San Clemente Island, followed by an entire day, from sunrise to sunset, about 80 miles offshore, north of the Mexican Border, zig-zagging along the banks and seamounts that cause upwelling and pockets of life. Our targets are sought-after species such as Guadalupe Murrelet, Red-billed Tropicbird, Flesh-footed and Buller’s Shearwaters, South Polar Skua, and Long-tailed Jaeger, as well as three subspecies of Leach's Storm-Petrel.
We'll spend all day Sunday in the heart of this zone in the area of the Butterfly, Cortez, Tanner, and 60-Mile Banks. Our exact itinerary will be determined in a large part by water temps and reports from fishing captains. We will visit waters in San Diego and Los Angeles Counties, and possibly in Ventura County.
For additional information on species seen in the more inshore waters during October the past several years, see the write-up, above, for the 5 October 2013 trip.
EXPECTED & POSSIBLE SPECIES: Good trip for Guadalupe Murrelet, Red‐billed Tropicbird, storm‐petrels—with likely Black and Leach's and possibly Least and Ashy—and Black‐vented Shearwater, Sabine's Gull; variety of fall‐migrant seabirds. Fair chance for Black‐footed Albatross, Flesh‐footed and Buller's Shearwaters, Northern Fulmar, Arctic Tern, South Polar Skua, Long‐tailed Jaeger; slight chance Craveri's Murrelet and Brown Booby. Expected are Pink-footed and Sooty Shearwaters, Red and Red-necked Phalaropes, Sabine’s Gull, Pomarine and Parasitic Jaegers, and Cassin’s and Rhinoceros Auklets. Also excellent for whales.
Update: Now that Xantus’s Murrelet has been split, this is one of the better trips to see Guadalupe Murrelet in ABA Area waters. Late July through October is the best season for Guadalupe Murrelet in ABA Area waters; 30+ miles is the minimum distance offshore it can be reasonably expected, though typically they are even farther out—where we spend our second day on this trip. We found 4 Guadalupe Murrelets here while aboard Grande on 14 October 2012.
Leach's Storm-Petrel (c) Steve Howell 31 JUL 2010
Leach's Storm-Petrel (c) Steve Howell 31 JUL 2010
Our October 2010, 48-hour trip was spectacular. Highlights included a WEDGE-RUMPED STORM-PETREL, a San Diego Flesh-footed Shearwater, enormous rafts totaling more than 5000 storm-petrels on the 30-Mile Bank, a San Diego County Black-footed Albatross, a pair of San Diego BROWN BOOBIES, breaching Baird’s Beaked Whales, a Sperm Whale, Humpback Whales, multiple Blue Whales, and feeding Fin Whales.
RARE STORM-PETRELS: On 3 September 2010 from Grande and again on Labor Day, 6 September 2010, from Searcher we recorded the fourth record of Wilson's Storm-Petrel in San Diego County on the 9-Mile Bank. On 2 October 2010 we photographed a Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel on the 30-Mile Bank.
STORM-PETREL SWARMS: The autumn Southern California 2009 pelagic season was a spectacular one for storm-petrels. A week later, on 10 October 2009 we recorded 8000 Black and 1750 Least Storm-Petrels from Grande and enjoyed a close interaction with a Humpback Whale on the 9-Mile Bank—just after a Brown Booby shot over Grande only 5 miles offshore. In September and October 2010 we recorded 10,000 Least and Black Storm-Petrels (7000 Least and 3000 Blacks) at the 30-Mile Bank, as well as Leach's, Ashy, Black, and Wedge-rumped. Plus, a Wilson's at the 9-Mile Bank.
CRAVERI'S MURRELETS: August – October is the best time of year to find the eluvise Craveri's Murrelet in U.S. waters. In fact, SoCal is the only place in ABA waters it can be found these days; however, colder than average water in 2010 and 2011 resulted in this species not being recorded in those years. Prior to 2010, SoCal pelagic trips somewhere would find one or two in most years, e.g., four were well seen and photographed from Grande on 4 October 2008. The September 2009 Searcher trip recorded a Craveri's Murrelet on the north end of the 9-Mile Bank. Quick looks at a pair were had by a few onboard Grande on 3 October 2009.
As in all pelagic trips, we're venturing into seldom explored waters to see what is out there. We usually turn up a rarity, but we never know which one.
Craveri's Murrelet from Grande (c) Steve N.G. Howell
Red-billed Tropicbird (c) Todd McGrath
IMPORTANT DEPARTURE AND BOARDING DETAILS
All trips are sponsored by Buena Vista Audubon Society and Grande Sportfishing.
LANDING LOCATION: We will board Grande 30 minutes prior to departure at Point Loma Sportfishing Landing, 1403 Scott Street at the corner of Emerson (one block off Rosecrans Street) in San Diego 92106. Phone: (619) 223-1627. There are several hotels/motels and many restaurants within easy walking distance of the dock, and the San Diego Airport is only a 5-minute drive away.
PARKING: There is a large parking at Point Loma Sportfishing for $7 a day. Enter the lot using the Emerson & Scott entrance and you'll be right at the landing, where you can drop off your gear and seek permanent parking. Free parking is available on the residential streets around the harbor (for day trips)—particularly to the west of Rosecrans Street—but such 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 two blocks away that has always had space and accepts credit cards.
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.
PHOTO I.D. and BOARDING PASS REQUIRED: All passengers departing Fisherman's Landing and Point Loma Sportfishing must complete the manifest and present photo identification and obtain a boarding pass prior to passing through the Coast Guard security gates. This is mandatory procedure per U.S. Homeland Security.
START YOUR DAY STRESS-FREE: We recommend that you arrive at the landing an hour prior to scheduled departure to allow plenty of time to find the landing and available parking, unload or transport gear, obtain a boarding pass at the Point Loma Sportfishing ticket window, sign the manifest, use the landing's restroom, visit 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.
NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS: Occurrence and identification of the Leach’s Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) complex off southern California (click the PDF icon at the right)
Giant Least and Black Storm-Petrel Rafts
(c) Todd McGrath and Jon Feenstra
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