Jane Mygatt and I did 2 Hornblower whale-watching trips this weekend, the end of their season.
We covered a total of nearly 100 miles on the 2 trips!
Mile after mile was birdless. We got 14-16 miles offshore, and mostly to the NW of the tip of Pt. Loma.
Saturday we got 10-12 miles west of La Jolla.
To my chagrin, one of our companions spotted 2 thresher sharks—a species I have been looking for for almost 35 years now and not seen—that disappeared before I could get to the rail to see them.
Sue Smith: where are you when I need you? [FYI: esteemed local birder, Sue Smith, is a world expert on thresher sharks, but that hasn’t done me any good.]
On 9/2 we came across one large flock of black-vented shearwaters with about 350 birds in it. about 25 seen elsewhere on the trip.
4 pink-footed shearwaters and 1 sooty.
5 black storm-petrels and 1 ashy.
1 Cassin’s auklet; 1 common tern. 10 red phalaropes. 1 brown booby, 1st-cycle. 1 parasitic jaeger
Today, we saw a flock of about 200 black-vented shearwaters. no more than a half-dozen elsewhere.
1 sooty, 3 pink-foots.
no alcids. 4 commic terns. no boobies. no storm-petrels; no phalaropes. but the water surface was completely tessellated and the light leaden gray. not great conditions.
3 jaegers: 2 poms and 1 parasitic
We were just about to leave the dock at 9:00, and I was checking my emails one last time before setting my phone to airplane mode for the next 4 hours, and I was in the process of telling Jane that this was perfect weather to watch for frigatebirds in, when Gary’s post on the frigatebird at the bait docks came in. We immediately found 2 birds circling over the Seaport Village area. I dictated a post about them, and between my heavy Philadelphia accent, the fact that I’d had a pre-trip pitcher of strawberry margaritas and the limits of my dictation program [you should see how many different phrases the program changed “frigatebird” into] I posted that we had seen 2 freaking birds. Sorry; didn’t catch that AI mistranslation.
On the way back into the harbor, we saw 3 frigatebirds soaring over Ft. Rosecrans; one was not as high as the 2 others and may not have been visible from the cemetery. At that time, the female Gary had first spotted was no longer on the mast on the bait dock. We had the male, the female, and a bird with a slightly whiter head. I don’t know if one of those was the bird Chris Adler had seen come into the harbor on the fishing boat, or if there were 4 frigatebirds total in the harbor today.