The August 20th Buena Vista Audubon pelagic trip set off in near-perfect weather and sea conditions with 38 passengers and six leaders, including Dave Povey, Gary Nunn, Peter Ginsburg, Matthew Binns, Nancy Christensen, and Bruce Rideout. We had a nice start to the trip with a PEREGRINE FALCON perched on a sailboat masthead as we pulled away from the dock and headed into the harbor. A quick pass of the bait dock and Ballast Point yielded the expected residents, so we continued southward to clear the kelp beds before turning northwest towards the Nine Mile Bank. BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATERS were in lower than expected numbers, but we made up for that with the first of four BROWN BOOBIES for the day. Not long after, we had the first few CRAVERI’S MURRELETS, one of our target species for the day. They were typically difficult to get close views of, but most participants eventually got good looks as the day went on. We also began picking up occasional small groups of CASSIN’S AUKLETS and RED-NECKED PHALAROPES, which would continue through most of the day.
BLACK STORM-PETRELS kept their distance until we got closer to the Nine Mile Bank, where we also picked up a few ASHY STORM-PETRELS and a mix of dark and light-rumped LEACH’S STORM-PETRELS. Later in the evening, Gary Nunn was reviewing his photos of these storm-petrels, to find that one was a potential WEDGE-RUMPED STORM-PETREL! This is a species that breeds in the Galapagos and islands off of Peru and Chile and doesn’t normally come further north than halfway up the Baja California peninsula. There are only nine accepted records for California, so if accepted, this will be a notable find! Distinguishing this species from our white-rumped Leach’s is difficult without close views or careful study of photographs, so it’s not surprising that the identification was made only from photos.
By the time we finished with the Nine and Thirty-Mile Banks, we had managed a jaeger grand slam, with several POMARINE, a PARASITIC, and at least one LONG-TAILED JAEGER. We also had a pair of COMMON TERNS, which are not actually very common for us, so they were a nice addition late in the day. Common Dolphins kept us company most of the day and put on quite a show at times, but Cetacean diversity was a bit lower than usual, with a single Minke Whale as the only other sighting. Other marine species included occasional Mola Molas, or Ocean Sunfish, a Hammerhead Shark, and a California Flying Fish.
Overall it was a fabulous day on the water.