Monday, October 17, 2016

A Monterey Pelagic

Sea Otter
On the road and with a mission in mind, I flew to Monterey to meet up with Debi Love Shearwater to find 4 target birds, the Flesh-footed and Buller's Shearwater, Black-footed Albatross and Pigeon Guillemot.

This would be my one and only trek out to Monterey for the rest of my life.  In some ways, it's sad to imagine and yet I still have many many more birds to find in so many different places. I have one more pelagic out of Northern California/the Pacific Northwest that I must make next year. For now, it was about finding a handful of shearwaters and perhaps an albatross or two.

Black-footed Albatross
Pelagics are not easy when it comes to photography.  The boat is constantly spinning around the hilly waters while this birder, me, is trying to keep his hand steady on the lens.  Of course, it begins with the naked eye on the horizon searching for flight patterns.  Then the binoculars to focus.  Once we have the ID, it's a quick grab for the camera to capture that moment!

My first lifer, the Black-footed Albatross, flew across the bow of our ship and delighted the crew as it searched for a little squid snack.

I am in my element.  I love the cool winds and rough waters as we continue searching together for these amazing ocean birds.

Alex Rinkert focuses on the horizon
A Humpback Whale slaps its' tail up and down on the ocean waters with a lot of energy. We also notice birds flying around this amazing creature.


Buller's Shearwater on the move
This shearwater stands out among the rest as it has beautiful gray, black and brown shading on its' wings. 

 At this point, I am loving the shearwater show. It's incredible!

I feel at peace.  I am happy.  I watch birders speak about ticks and checks on their lists.  I remain hidden on board happy to be alone.  Only Debi knows me.  I watch her do her job in an amazing fashion.  She's direct and to the point.  I like her.  I like how she operates. And the birders on board are very nice people.

Sea Lions
For the first time on one of my pelagics, there is no chumming(feeding birds from the boat) allowed. It was now illegal to do so because it has become a protected marine sanctuary.  It made our work a little more difficult, but we accomplished our goals.

Everyone is alert in the morning, but by the afternoon, people start feeling tired or getting seasick.  I was getting tired and forgot that I had packed a bunch of goodies in my backpack.  It seemed to do the trick.

Pink-footed Shearwater
My trek out to California was a smart idea.  I had become tired of the Arizona birding scene and this little adventure recharged my spirits.

Some birds are difficult to find in the US.  Such is the case with the Flesh-footed Shearwater. This bird made an appearance several times during our trek to the delight of many birders. Debi, as her last name suggests, sure knows her shearwaters:)

Flesh-footed Shearwater
This was probably the most difficult bird to get photos of during our trek thanks in part to the rough waters. At one point, I fell on my keister:)

Harbor Seals taking a nap
It was so much fun birding with Debi.  I had made plans for the weekend so I couldn't bird with Debi the next day but hopefully we'll get a chance to do some birding down the road.  Thank you Debi for an awesome day out on the Pacific Ocean.

More to come.....

The Shearwater show!  FIVE species of shearwaters that day.  From left to right starting with the left side.
Top to Bottom, Pink-footed Shearwater, Flesh-footed Shearwater, Buller's Shearwater
Right side, Black-vented Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater


  1. Part of the magic of pelagics is it is all totally unknown what may happen. Yours looks to have met many expectations, and so a great day! It's interesting about the no chumming too. If you do get to Australia in the future, try to get on one here too.

    1. You can bet I will be taking a pelagic off the coast of fact, probably two or 3 trips:) You've done well on your treks. In fact, I think if I can remember correctly, you have a gorgeous shot of a skua(as well as many other birds) from a pelagic you took in the icy world:)I look forward to meeting you in person one day. I am so close to breaking the chains of my financial confinement:)

  2. What a superb trip - gorgeous photos and well done on the "lifers". My favourite is the whale - what a sighting!!!!! :)

    1. Thank you! It was a well needed and planned trip. I needed some cooler temps. It's still in the 90's here!

  3. Oh wow, I would have loved to be on that boat trip. So many great species that I can only dream about seeing. I am so glad you enjoyed it all in you own way and for your own reasons.

  4. Fabulous photos from your trip. The seals are adorable.

  5. Très beau voyage ;-)
    Céline & Philippe

  6. I was in a car going up the Pacific Coast highway when I was 13, and saw Monterrey...but I would love to go back! I want to spend some time there. Loved your beautiful shots! Glad you got to go!


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