October 2020, Pelagic Highlights and November 21st Pelagic announcement
Rhinoceros Auklet photo by David Pereksta
The October 3rd Pelagic trip out of Ventura, Ca with Island Packers was a mix of challenging foggy conditions and beautiful birds. After we departed the Ventura Harbor at 7 am we had clear skies and decent birds throughout the crossing to Anacapa Island. Unfortunately Anacapa was not hosting any Boobies so we zipped around to the south side of the island looking to get out into some deeper waters. This is when the fog hit, a massive wall of stormy moisture rolling fast at our position. We had our eyes set on a huge line of shearwaters that stretched out almost 1/4 of a mile. I headed to the north end of the line up and when I turned the boat we were enveloped in thick fog. It would remain that way for the next few hours.
The visibility was poor, to just flat out terrible. The ocean conditions were flat and calm though, and believe it or not we were still able to get eyes on our first pair of Craveri's Murrelets while we were still deep in the fog. Then out of nowhere a quick flyover of the boat was a young Nazca Booby! Man if this was the quality of birds around us we needed visibility ASAP. I was contacting boats far and wide via our VHF radio to check the conditions up to 40 miles away. Fog, fog, fog. Right up to the mainland and almost all the way to San Nicolas Island. We continued to press south. Finally we got a break and started to get some improvement. We had some relief and started to see birds. Another pair of Craveri's was heard calling to each other, yielding a rare opportunity to ID a bird by ear while at sea. Craveri's has a rattle call, distinct from the chirping call of Scripps's Murrelet.
Craveri's Murrelet photo by David Pereksta
Craveri's Murrelet Photo by David Pereksta
Around this time we also locked our Binoculars on a fair number of Common and Elegant Terns, a Sabine's Gull, and a variety of Jaegers including a couple Long-tailed Jaegers. Storm-Petrels also made a showing, including a small mixed raft sitting on the surface. We tallied up Leach's, Black, Ashy, and even a few LEAST STORM-PETRELS. We had some extend good looks at one of the four or so Least Storm-Petrels we encountered on this trip. It was personally the highlight of the trip for me as it gave us a rare chance to study its flight style and appearance as compared to our more typical species of Storm-Petrels in these waters.
Common Tern Photo by David Pereksta
After so much time in the fog, we reveled with the birds now in clear view but eventually started to bend our course down to Santa Barbara Island. Near the island as usual we started to see a few Brown Boobies here and there. At the island we had up to 47 Brown Boobies and a continuing adult Male Blue-footed Booby. We also were lucky enough to spot the hybrid offspring of this booby and a female Brown.
Blue-footed Booby Photo by David Pereksta
Blue-footed x Brown Booby Hybrid Photo by David Pereksta
After the stop off at Santa Barbara Island we traveled north. There were many more birds (including a brief Manx Shearwater sighting by only a few onboard) and a lot of water covered. Eventually we arrived safely back into Ventura Harbor despite some super thick fog, darkness, and the opening night of Lobster season with fishermen clogging up the entrance to the harbor. Fog be damned we sure had a great trip out there with calm seas and great birds.
If you would like to join us on our next adventure there are currently openings on the November 21st pelagic birding trip. We leave out of Ventura Harbor with Island Packers for an 9 hr trip, returning to the dock at 5 pm. We will have the boat stocked with great birders to help find and ID the birds, and get your eyeballs on them.
The trip is $125 for Adults, and is 9 hrs long aboard the Island Explorer, our newest high speed, comfy catamaran. The route is always weather and conditions dependent, but we plan on working our way through the Santa Barbara channel, possibly further west than we typically go, and then cut south between the islands to get into deep water behind Santa Cruz Island. This is a transitional time of year and we have not had the opportunity to run a trip during this season for a number of years. The possibilities are exciting. We will have the tail end of migration taking place, along with wintering species moving in, and maybe a rarity or two as well. I hope to see you there.
You can book a trip by clicking on this link or calling Island Packers at (805) 642-1393
Parasitic Jaeger Photo by David Pereksta
Full list of birds from the October 3rd Pelagic:
Blue-footed x Brown Booby (hybrid)
Great Blue Heron