Sunday, January 24, 2016

2016 New Years Day pelagic trip from San Diego

The annual January 1st San Diego Field Ornithologists' pelagic birding trip departed under sunny skies and calm seas. This was the 32nd year this trip has been scheduled. There were about 55 birders on board.

We used a different boat and charter than I have before. The boat was the 75-foot "Legend" out of H&M Sportfishing.

My first bird photo was taken while I was walking out to the boat on the dock to board. A Black-crowned Night-Heron was perched on the railing of another boat only a few feet away.

Black-crowned Night-Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
As we traveled down the bay we began a popcorn chum that attracted many gulls, including the photogenic Heermann's Gulls.

Heermann's Gull
Heermann's Gull
We soon passed by the tip of Point Loma and entered the ocean proper, though it is not always easy to tell exactly when the transition takes place.

Point Loma
Point Loma. January 1, 2016. Greg Gillson.
Just offshore the shout of "Thayer's Gull!" went up and I managed to get a photo of this rather rare bird far back in the wake. I wasn't really sure I took a picture of the correct bird until I "digitally developed" my photos back home.

Thayer's Gull
Thayer's Gull (left), Western Gull (center), Heermann's Gull (right)
Rather than head offshore right away, our trip turned north and we stayed about 5 miles offshore. A huge flock of Brandt's Cormorants were flying by closer to shore, estimated at nearly 2000 birds! When we were off of Mission Bay we spotted a Pomarine Jaeger.

Pomarine Jaeger
Pomarine Jaeger
Black-vented Shearwater
Black-vented Shearwater
Brown Pelican
This Brown Pelican rode on our wheelhouse for a while
As we made our way out and over the deeper edge of the Nine Mile Bank we encountered changes in birdlife. Notably, we picked up many Northern Fulmars and hundreds and hundreds of Bonaparte's Gulls.

Northern Fulmar
Northern Fulmar
Bonaparte's Gull
Bonaparte's Gull
Bonaparte's Gull
Bonaparte's Gull
As we turned back to port, but still out over the top of the Nine Mile Bank, a hard-to-identify Short-tailed Shearwater cooperated as it flew around and landed.

Short-tailed Shearwater
Short-tailed Shearwater
Glaucous-winged Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Back on the buoys near the mouth of the bay, we counted 23 Brown Boobies, compared with about 18 birds on the way out.

Brown Booby
Male Brown Booby
Brown Booby
Female Brown Booby
Pulling in to the marina to dock the boat we thought our trip was done. But, no! Our rarest bird of the day right in the marina--Marbled Murrelet!. That's the way it goes sometimes.

Marbled Murrelet
Marbled Murrelet
Here is the official trip report as it appears on Salia.com

Here is my brief report of birds seen last year on the January 2015 pelagic birding trip.