Saturday, August 29, 2015

Fourteen Hours Before the Mast

First Light Twenty Miles Offshore
Saturday was the second of the extended sixteen hour pelagic trips for the year. Well almost sixteen hours. Due to the maintenance schedule for the boat the trip was reduced to fourteen hours. That did let us sleep an hour later and we left the dock at 5 am.

Pomarine Jaeger
At about 7 am we got our first bird of the day, a Royal Tern about 30 miles offshore. About 30 minutes later we found a couple of tropical terns. Suddenly out of nowhere a jaeger appeared with afterburners on giving chase to the terns. A difference of opinion on the identification was resolved with photos. Pomarine Jaeger was made Year Bird 461.

The expedition motored on. At about 8:30 we had our first Audubon's Shearwater. A few minute later we identified a couple of Sooty Terns and a Magnificent Frigatebird. Things started to really get hopping for a pelagic trip, Fifteen minutes later we found our first Leach's Storm-Petrals. This was the Leach's Storm-Petrel trip to beat all Leach's Storm-Petrel, we had more than a hundred Storm-Petrels this trip, most of the Leach's

Masked Bobbies en Mass!
The next surprise was a squadron of four Masked Bobbies in formation flying by. No one I talked to on the trip has ever seen that many Masked Bobbies together in Texas.

The morning was a parade of more Storm-Petrels and Audubon Shearwaters. In the distance we saw a large group of birds. Then we saw splashing. Tuna, a large school feeding on bait fish and Audubon's Shearwaters were streaming in by the dozen literally.

Great and Cory's Shearwater together.
A couple or Cory's Shearwaters were present. Suddenly someone called "Great Shearwater!" Unmistakable, it sat right in the middle of the flock, Great Shearwater was Year Bird 462. It was starting to feel like a Shearwater big days.

It was an amazing day on the water for pelagic birds. I counted ten pelagic birds for the day and really fleshed out my year list with pelagics. This was my fourth offshore trip this year (two out of state, two in Texas) and using the transdermal scopolamine patch is really building my confidence with doing pelagic trips. I was very apprehensive of pelagic trips because I've gotten very sick in the past, I'm looking forward to my next trip now.

Leach's Storm-Petrel
The next day we decided to get going early and speculate for shorebirds in the coastal bend. We were moving along and just about to Rivera heading north when I got a call that a Hermit Warbler had been found at the South Padre Island Convention Center. A Big Year has to take advantage of opportunity when it happens. I pulled over, checked the GPS. 120 miles back to South Padre Island. On the way we were.

Hermit Warbler
I made good time and made it back to South Padre Island by 11:15 am. Luckily for me birders were still on the bird and I bagged it in just 2-3 minutes. Hermit Warbler goes down as Year Bird 463.

A quick lunch and back on the road. Our little 240 mile detour worked out and I got home right at 8 pm. The weekend worked out to right at 1000 miles. Next up, labor day weekend!

1 comment:

  1. David, Glad you had a great trip, and also that your patch worked and you have confidence to take more Texas Pelagics. Hope to see you out there next year. Although there are spaces on all the remaining TX Pelagics too.