2011 Northern California … The Pelagic’s Part 1

The first week and a half of my adventure was a blast but I was really, really looking forward to the next three days.  Anytime you can go birding and have nearly every bird you see be a “Lifer” has to get your adrenalin going.  I chose to go out with Shearwater Journeys whose operation has a wonderful reputation.  Debbie Shearwater has been doing Pelagics for 30+ years and always has many experienced leaders on board to assist those, like me, who are unfamiliar with the West Coast pelagics.

Monterey Harbor Entrance/Exit ... What a cool way to start and end your day!

Monterey Harbor Entrance/Exit … What a cool way to start and end your day!

I have been on a couple of Pelagics on the East coast of Florida so I had some preconceived notions as what to expect … boy was I wrong!  Pelagics on the West coast are so, so much better than East coast trips.  On East coast Pelagics you might go 30 minutes to a couple of hours and not see any birds and then all of a sudden run into a group of feeding birds and it’s all super exciting and then it may be another long while before you see anything else.

Elegant Tern

Elegant Tern

I soon realized there was a tremenous difference between the two and that on West Coast pelagics you have birds around almost constantly and better yet it was not just Gulls.  Within the first half hour I had seen 3-4 Lifers and it was hard to even keep up with all the great birds being seen!

Rhinocerous Auklet

Rhinocerous Auklet

Pigeon Guillemot

Pigeon Guillemot

Common Murres

Common Murres

One thing that I loved about these trips was that the crew was cognizant of the fact that many birders also like to take pictures and they slowed down or stopped when any new bird was seen for the day.

The weather the first day was OK.  We had fog off and on and while the sun did pop through occasionally the seas were only moderately rough so I was able to get a few usable/identifiable pictures.

(Clicking on any picture makes it larger and clearer)

Red Phalarope and Red-necked Phalarope ... It was amazing being able to see both species side by side.  The Red Phalarope are the larger bird with the plain gray back.

Red Phalarope and Red-necked Phalarope … It was amazing being able to see both species side by side. The Red Phalarope are the larger bird with the plain gray back.

Northern Fulmar

Northern Fulmar

Buller's Shearwater ... One of the rarer "lifers" seen the first day!

Buller’s Shearwater … One of the rarer “lifers” seen the first day!

Heermann's Gull ... This is a first year bird.

Heermann’s Gull … This is a first year bird.

The entire first days trip went by in a blur.  Like I said there was rarely a quiet moment and I took an incredible number of pictures.  Like most Pelagics the pitch and roll of the boat along with trying to shoot fast-moving targets made the keeper rate a little on the low side but I have enough OK shots for a couple more days.  Beside the many bird species we saw a number of whales and dolphins that I will share those too!!

 

 

 

 

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About sheriffsmith

I have worked for the Broward County Sheriff's Office the last 13 years and spend most of my free time birdwatching / naturewatching and photographing the birds and nature that I encounter. I believe God has blessed us with a world that is so absolutely fascinating and wonderful and I'm doing my best to discover and show others all that he has provided us with in nature.
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One Response to 2011 Northern California … The Pelagic’s Part 1

  1. scaboo says:

    Great pics! The Heermann’s Gull shot is especially good.

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