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2018 Scrub-Jay Pelagic trip report

Island Scrub-Jay

Island Scrub-Jay at Prisoner's Harbor, Santa Cruz Island

March 10th, 2018:

Island Packers hosted another Island Scrub-Jay Pelagic birding trip, this time in the month of March rather than February. At first glance, the weather forecast looked dreary but a closer look revealed a window of relatively good weather for the morning and early afternoon. We did of course get some good rain the last hour or so of the trip but by then we had seen a great number of birds.

The targets for this particular trip are the Alcids, and of course the Island Scrub-Jay. With that in mind we had a terrific time sliding through the still waters of the Santa Barbara Channel. We found a number of obliging birds including Cassin's Auklets, Scripps's Murrelets, and Northern Fulmars.

Cassin's Auklet

Cassin's Auklet

Scripps's Murrelet

Scripps's Murrelet

Northern Fulmar

Northern Fulmar (dark)

Northern Fulmar

Northern Fulmar (light)

Typically by late February into March many of the local seabirds that nest on the Channel Islands begin moving back into this area. Some are already well into establishing a nest and even fledging young (Brown Pelicans) or just getting their spot all fixed up like these Cormorants.

Pelagic Cormorant, Anacapa Island

Pelagic Cormorant

Brandt's Cormorants on Scorpion Rock, Santa Cruz Island

We decided to check out a very large group of Surf Scoters on the south side of Anacapa Island and that eventually led us into a nice little group of Bottlenose Dolphin and a few Brown Pelicans.

Brown Pelican (note the calm water, no stormy weather here!)

Bottlenose Dolphin sharing the air space with a Brown Pelican

At this point we had some great looks at quite a few birds and were making progress towards Prisoner's Harbor on Santa Cruz Island. When we arrived we budgeted one hour to find the Island Scrub-Jay, explore the area and then hop back on the boat before the real rain arrived.

Island Scrub-Jay

We timed it just right and managed to stay dry while ashore. There was a great turn out of Island Scrub-Jays that were active around the landing area. We had multiple birds around us including the confiding one on the side of the road pictured at the top of this post.

Island Scrub-Jay

Island Scrub-Jay

Before the rain really set in we spotted more Cassin's Auklets, Scripps's Murrelets, and even a Rhinoceros Auklet.

Rhinoceros Auklet

Rhinoceros Auklet

Rhinoceros Auklet

Of course there were other birds that day, so here are a few more we saw along the way.

Black Oystercatchers (near Scorpion, Santa Cruz Island)

Pigeon Guillemots

Brandt's Cormorants

Thanks to all who braved the rain to make this trip a success! and a big thank you to David Pereksta, Hugh Ranson, Wes Fritz, and Peter Gaede for taking the time out of their busy schedules to help make this trip a success and for their efforts on getting out the ebird lists to everyone. A final thank you to Island Packers for continuing to host these excursions. We look forward to setting the dates soon on a few more pelagic trips this summer and fall. Stay tuned...

Our trip totals:

0050 Mallard

0004 Ruddy Duck

1502 Surf Scoter

0001 Red-throated Loon

0001 Common Loon

0002 Pacific Loon

0007 Eared Grebe

0415 Western Grebe

0002 Clark's Grebe

0495 Brandt's Cormorant

0003 Double Crested Cormorant

0016 Pelagic Cormorant

0110 Brown Pelican

0008 Black Oystercatcher

0040 Sanderling

0011 Northern Fulmar

0026 Black-vented Shearwater

0002 Rhinoceros Auklet

0231 Cassin's Auklet

0031 Pigeon Guillemot

0053 Scripps's Murrelet

0006 Bonaparte's Gull

0002 Ring-billed Gull

0840 Western Gull

0004 California Gull

0005 Heermann's Gull

0001 Royal Tern

0008 Swallow sp.

0002 Belted Kingfisher

0001 Anna's Hummingbird

0001 Allen's Hummingbird

0001 American Crow

0016 Common Raven

0008 Island Scrub-Jay

0002 Northern Flicker

0001 Bald Eagle

0001 American Kestrel

0001 Peregrine Falcon

0002 Black Phoebe

0002 Hutton's Vireo

0002 Bewick's Wren

0002 Ruby-crowned Kinglet

0001 Hermit Thrush

0012 Orange-crowned Warbler

0001 Fox Sparrow

0002 Song Sparrow

0002 Spotted Towhee

0002 House Finch

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