Whale watching pelagic
Today, Aug 7th, Mel and I ventured offshore aboard the Privateer hoping to escape the heat. The captain headed west northwest on a beeline to go see some offshore bottlenose dolphins, where we reached a point 12 miles offshore. The birdiest section of the trip was within 5 miles of shore. In the first hour we had a strong stream of Black-vented Shearwaters going past. We were happy to have good looks at several Red Phalaropes and two Sabine’s Gulls. The REPH were single widely separated birds, several of which were behaving like storm-petrels. They flew, jerked into direction changes, and dropped suddenly to the surface, taking off again immediately. We tried to photograph each to make certain they really were not fork-tailed storm-petrels, but they were indeed phalaropes. This was just a behavior I had not witnessed before. Heading back towards shore, at about 4 miles off of La Jolla (according to the captain) we encountered a large dispersed feeding group of dolphins, terns, and a couple of thousand shearwaters. Many of the shearwaters had eaten so heavily they were unable to fly, and dove beneath the surface to avoid the ship.
We are about 2 weeks from the next pelagic trip, and that ship is sold out. Should you decide to go out whale watching to look at birds, I thought I would point out that San Diego Whalewatch has reduced prices on Tuesday and Thursday ($35 each). For the other days you can always find a Groupon that allows you to book on any day for $26 each. If you pay full price you are not doing your homework!
Checklists with some photos:
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports