Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Last pelagic trip of fall

Well, unlike most of the earlier trips this year, the pelagic trip from San Diego on October 22, 2018 lacked exciting rarities. But, I guess, if rarities occurred on every trip, they soon wouldn't be rarities, would they?

But the trip was unique in its own way.

We loaded onto the boat about 6:00 am. We started out in fairly heavy fog in the bay. That made for some interesting sunrise pictures.

Fog as we loaded up
Foggy ocean sunrise
Foggy San Diego Bay sunrise
Boat in the fog

Once offshore it quickly became lighter and the fog less dense. So it became possible to get the first few usable bird photos.

Heermann's Gull
Juvenile Heermann's Gull.
Black-vented Shearwater
Black-vented Shearwater
The fog lifted

Flocks of Black-vented Shearwaters were diving into the water chasing bait fish chased to the surface by tuna.

Sardines boiling from the water
Bait fish!
Flock of Black-vented Shearwaters
Black-vented Shearwaters
California Gull chasing bait fish
California Gull chasing bait fish forced to the surface.
Later in the morning as we moved farther offshore we left the larger number of birds. Sporadic sightings of Cassin's Auklets happened throughout the day, some eventually closer to the boat.

Good looks at a Cassin's Auklet
Cassin's Auklet
California Gull
California Gull
Then, in deeper water we spied a few California Flying Fish! They soared along for a couple of hundred feet before plunging back into the warm water. If the started flying too close to the surface they would stick the bottom of their tail into to the water and wiggle it back and forth to gain speed.

Flying fish getting up speed
Flying fish soaring high!
California Flying Fish
Pink-footed Shearwater
Pink-footed Shearwater
Brown Booby
Brown Booby
Red Phalaropes
Red Phalaropes
Nothing exciting showed up far offshore. After noon we turned the boat around and headed back toward shore. That's when we spotted a Northern Fulmar in heavy molt.

Ratty Fulmar
Fulmar takes flight
Northern Fulmar
Then, we spotted this...

Elephant Seal snout

If you can't make it out, it is the snout of an Elephant Seal. The animal is facing directly away and its head is flipped over backwards looking at us upside down! The bulbous tip of the nose is up in the air and the forehead is at water level with both its eyes looking at us from just above the water.

As we neared shore again a group of dolphins raced us.

Pacific White-sided Dolphins
Pacific White-sided Dolphin
And a third-for-the-day Brown Booby passed over the boat before continuing on.

Immature Brown Booby
Immature Brown Booby
Immature Brown Booby
Brown Booby
The day was quickly ending. The gulls were getting a late afternoon snack.

Heading for home
Gulls at sunset

We entered the bay at dusk and it was quite dark by the time we reached the dock.

The moon over San Diego Bay
Moon over San Diego Bay.

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