Date: 7/16/17 9:51 pm
From: 'Alvaro Jaramillo' <chucao...> [peninsula-birding] <peninsula-birding-noreply...>
Subject: [pen-bird] Wedge-tailed Shearwater - and otherwise good pelagic out of Half Moon Bay
Hello Birders,

I posted some quickie info to penbirds yesterday, in case anyone could find
the shearwater from shore. We found it at the start of our pelagic trip,
very close to shore. Sadly no one did find it. But here is the full story.
Minutes from exiting Pillar Point Harbor, we saw this shearwater coming
towards the boat with bowed wings, looking almost red-footed booby like as
it came in head on. It went by at a moderate distance along the starboard
side of the boat. My mind went to Wedge-tailed Shearwater, but the view was
just not that good. While I was on the loudspeaker I yelled to look at this
bird, asking "what is this thing?" The captain went to chase mode as we
could see the bird heading towards surfers beach. Captain Tom Mattusch put
full throttle on, and we raced chasing the bird while Logan Kahle and Chris
Hayward kept the bird in view. Then we lost it.gone. Bird feeding frenzies
were forming, and there were lots of birds around, so picking out a dark
bird from lots of gulls and pelicans was a struggle. I communicated that I
thought the bird looked like a Wedge-tailed Shearwater, but I knew that with
that quick view and no photos, it would have to go down as a somewhat dodgy
report for a bird this rare. Then, we got on it again, and were able to
approach, the bird getting a little closer and closer and sure enough it
gave an awesome and close fly by. The shutters were going, and we were able
to document the bird really well. It was a Wedge-tailed Shearwater!! Photos
available on our facebook site, thanks to the various photographers who were
able to get superb photos in very low and gray light.

This was a dark morph individual. Key identification features are that this
shearwater is long winged, with a distinctive wing shape, holding the wings
bowed down when seen head on, and forward and angled at the wrist. Although
a larger shearwater in length, this is not a heavy shearwater, so light in
wing loading. In flight it flaps little, gliding much more than you would
see in a Sooty Shearwater. Unlike a Flesh-footed, the bill is thin and dark.
Key is that the body is long, particularly behind the wings with a
distinctively long tail, which is wedge shaped. This individual was ratty
and molting, with old outer primaries and new inners. Given that at this
time of year they should be breeding, my assumption is that this is a first
year bird as the adults would molt after they breed.

Needless to say while the rest of the pelagic trip was good, we all knew
that it was likely that we had already seen the best bird of the day. In SF
County a Wilson's Storm-Petrel was a nice goody, in with several Ashy
Storm-Petrels. It was a good day for Tufted Puffin, we saw them (4) in both
San Francisco and San Mateo. But in SF we had a "friendly" Tufted Puffin
that would swim feet away from the boat and actually followed, I would say
chased us, for some time. That bird was a highlight, and great pictures were
taken. Note that local fishermen have told me that this week two days in a
row a Tufted Puffin was in with the murres off Pedro Point in Pacifica! We
found good numbers of Black-footed Albatross in both counties, Northern
Fulmar in SF, more Ashy Storm-Petrels, lots of Sooty and Pink-foots, as well
as Common Murres (many youngsters), Rhino and Cassin's Auklets. As it is
early in the season only Red-necked Phalaropes were present. Three distant
Pomarine/Parasitic jaegers were the first of the season. Most of the seabird
activity was at the continental shelf edge and just outside but inside of
the shelf there were few birds. Given the nice numbers offshore, the fact
that we have found storm-petrels on both of our trips, and nice numbers of
albatross and a rarity already - well it looks like it is building to be a
great pelagic season. See you out there.

Good birding,


Alvaro Jaramillo

alvaro@alvar <mailto:<alvaro...>

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