In August, we took a household journey to stunning San Diego, seeing SeaWorld, LegoLand, and the San Diego Zoo. However I took a day for myself for a 12-hour pelagic journey sponsored by Buena Vista Audubon.
I’ve taken excursions out of Monterey Bay (with pelagic legend Debi Shearwater, now retired) and Half Moon Bay, California; Newport, Oregon; and Hatteras, North Carolina. However I at all times get pleasure from journeys out on the water and it has been a number of years since my final one. Moreover, there are nonetheless a couple of regularly-occurring Pacific pelagic species that I’ve by no means seen.
On August 13, 2022, I wakened early, snuck out of the lodge room with out waking the remainder of the household, and was at Seaforth Touchdown on Mission Bay by 7:00 am Earlier than heading to the boat, Paul Lehman did the preliminary orientation after which we headed on board.
My recollection of prior journeys is that we used comparatively small fishing boats and had 20-25 birders, plus the leaders. This was a lot bigger. The boat is named the Legacy and it’s an 80 foot whale watching vessel that typically seats 115, however takes about 70 for birding journeys. It was very comfy, with viewing on two decks and loads of indoor area for taking breaks or snacking (they promote chilly drinks and snacks). Or, as a result of it’s San Diego, getting away from the solar.
We departed from Mission Bay and headed to the decrease 9 Mile Financial institution after which the higher 9 Mile Financial institution. Then we crossed the south San Diego Trough to Thirty Mile Financial institution, finally reaching a spot known as “The Nook,” which, as I perceive it, is the place San Diego and Los Angeles counties meet Mexico. Precisely how that cartographic alchemy works, I have no idea. Then we headed again. The picture beneath reveals a few of these underwater options and the places of the eBird checklists.
An eBird Journey Report consisting of all 11 checklists is right here. My lists totaled 35 species, however I didn’t see every thing within the harbor and somebody found a Manx Shearwater after-the-fact by reviewing photographs. If I noticed that fowl, I didn’t recognize it, so it isn’t on my listing.
The journey was barely bumpy on the outset, however comparatively calm the remainder of the day. It was productive all through (the official abstract is right here) and the highlights had been a Prepare dinner’s Petrel, a number of Black-footed Albatrosses and Least Storm-Petrels, in addition to greater numbers of Pink-necked Phalaropes, Pomarine and Lengthy-tailed Jaegers, Craveri’s Murrelets , Sabine’s Gulls, Townsend’s Storm-Petrels, and Brown Boobies. Black-vented Shearwaters had been plentiful and there a number of good views of Sooty and Pink-Footed Shearwaters. The small print are within the Journey Report.
Paul Lehman known as out birds from the bridge and he was glorious, as had been the spotters, Dave Povey, Bruce Rideout, Dan King, and Gary Nunn. (That’s, by the way, my common expertise on pelagics, as everybody has been excellent and really skilled on all my journeys.) They took care of the eBirding too. Because the checklists point out, there have been a number of cameras on board.
I had set a modest objective of seeing two new birds, Black-vented Shearwater (beneath) and Craveri’s Murrelet, each pretty widespread on August journeys. I ended up with 5 lifers, these two and Townsend’s Storm-Petrel, Least Storm-Petrel, and Prepare dinner’s Petrel. Due to the proximity of Naval Base San Diego (homeport to the US Pacific Fleet), we additionally noticed a number of army vessels, together with a submarine.
A fast notice on eBird penetration: of the 68 folks on the boat (together with leaders), 59 are on the shared eBird checklists. That is 87%. A pelagic journey possible excludes most new and informal birders, so on this explicit journey of devoted birders, nearly 90% are on eBird.
It was a fantastic journey and I extremely advocate a San Diego pelagic in case you are within the space and need to get out on the ocean to see seabirds in a comparatively comfy atmosphere with glorious leaders. Deliver sunscreen.