Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Pelagic Recap: August 16, Half Moon Bay


On August 16 we once again headed offshore, on the neverending quest to find Vague Runts. This was my second pelagic of the season, and high seas made it unlikely we would have a repeat performance of the storm-petrel show two weeks prior, but these were good conditions for finding Hawaiian Petrel. Of course, Hawaiian Petrel failed to show and I was burned yet again...which is getting really tiring...but it was a fun and birdy trip despite the swells.


Pigeon Guillemots breed in the breakwaters at the Pillar Point Harbor, and we had quite a few of them.  Oddly, this charming bird has not made it onto BB&B before, though they are certainly deserving.  In other embarrassing news, when I started birding I thought they were actually called "guillemonts" for several years.


As soon as we left the harbor, we could see vast numbers of Sooty Shearwaters moving north in a seemingly never-ending flock. It was truly an impressive number of birds...I had not seen numbers of them like that in quite a while. We motored up to them and watch them stream by for quite a while.


Sitting next to the massive river of shearwaters was a great way to start the morning.


Here's a Sooty in more typical lighting...they look more sooty, a little less magical.


Among things that I can never cease taking pictures of are humpback whale flukes.


If you've ever been on a pelagic trip and are confused about what people are talking about when they mention a "footprint" out in the water, then this really boring picture is for you!  The patch of slick water, the footprint, is what is left on the surface after a whale dives.


Shitty photo, I know, but Flesh-footed Shearwater (bird on he left, Pink-footed Shearwater on the right) is always a nice bird. 2013 was a great year for them, but I didn't see a single one in 2014, which I suspect is strongly correlated with the fact that there were hardly any Buller's around in 2014. Rare shearwaters appear to enjoy the company of Buller's it seems.  We did have a handful of Buller's, which is a good omen for later in the season.

It's not unusual to see banded Black-footed Albatross offshore, as there have been banding programs going at several of their breeding sites for many years now.  This black on yellow field readable band is from Tern Island (French Frigate Shoals), about 2,730 miles west of where we saw this bird. I did report this band resight, and promptly got a response in two days! Way to go USGS!


Black-footed Albatross are not wary birds. Reading albatross bands is not difficult. This bird was banded in May 2010 as a chick, and will be old enough to breed in about three years.

Albatross can surf with their big feet. With the way they can move offshore you would never guess how ungraceful they can be on land.


Storm-petrels put in a modest showing, but with a robust four species representing. This Ashy made a close pass by the boat.

Wilson's almost always seem to come in close to the boat eventually. It's a nice bird to see out here regularly, they were considered quite the rarity not too long ago.


Bird of the day, as far as the most unexpected species, easily went to this Surfbird that briefly followed the boat way out in San Francisco County waters. It's the first one I've ever seen offshore, and I never expected to see one in the company of Black-footed Albatross (the bird in the background). You never know what weird migrant you might cross paths with out there.


Steller's sea lions were hauled out on this buoy just offshore from the Pillar Point Harbor. Note the blunt snout, "bear-faced" look and blonde fur. That's a California sea lion head poking out on the right side for comparison.

There you go, a nice, succinct blog post with little writing and lots of photos...had to change things up after that last post. I'm going out again this weekend, on the hunt (as always) for sweet sweet Pterodroma goodness.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Proctologist, The House Finch, and The eBird Checklist

Birders run the gamut from utterly boring to insufferable to eccentric to assholes to flat out crazy. Some are even fun to be around. All may not be interesting, but most are weird, whether the weirdness is worn on the sleeve or buried deep down inside where it grows and festers and makes you a little sicker every day. It is known. I could talk about it, but I'm not gonna. Sorry.

What is fascinating is how a birder's use of eBird can really highlight certain personality traits that would not be so obvious.  Yes, eBird not only sciences, keeps your lists for you, and tells you where to find birds, it is a tool of expression!  Why do you think people actually get banned from eBird? It's not just because they are sketchy birders, I will tell you that much.

But I'm not going to go down the wide and worn path of inflated numbers or misidentifications or not reporting perfectly chaseable rarities until it is too late.  Anyone can whinge about that. I'm going to talk about a singular phenomenon; the pointless checklist.

EBirding can be fun. I get it. I've eBirded humorous things, whether just to log a county tick or a new patch bird or to add a bird to a day list. Guilty! Right here!  What I am talking about is how certain people go out of their way to eBird everything, because it is in their obsessive nature, and because they are somehow under the belief that they are making an important contribution to science.

Look, birding is not inherently science, I'm sorry. It's just not. Live someplace where there are lots of Rock Pigeons? Don't worry about doing an incidental checklist for every one you see. Really, don't. How about someplace where there is a thriving grackle population?  Trust me, grackle students will not hold it against you for not busting out an eBird checklist when you see one fly over the freeway. Just because you see a House Finch while driving to the proctologist and enter it in eBird does not make it sweet sweet valuable science. There are a number of eBird users out there who enter the proverbial House Finch into eBird while doing the proverbial drive to the proctologist office. Sure you have entered it into a data depository, and maybe that brings you satisfaction...but have you thought it through?  Or is this just an obsessive-compulsive tendency that eBird has decided to drag out of your brain?

This is the kind of checklist I'm talking about...the proctology House Finch. It is one thing if you go birding someplace for 20 minutes and all you see is a Mourning Dove. That sucks, I feel bad for you. You squeeze all the satisfaction you can out of putting that MODO in eBird, you earned it. Not only did you document a Mourning Dove, you also documented that there was nothing else observed at the time, which can actually be more valuable information than your dove sighting. You were looking specifically for birds, not doing anything else, and you saw what you saw. Great. Again, this is not a bad checklist...it is the Proctology House Finch that grinds the gears of many birders.

Proctology House Finch is, of course, something that should be entered as an "incidental" checklist. Most eBird users know that, whether they feel the compulsion to get every single bird they see into eBird or they only use it once a month. You are not really birding when you see Proctology House Finch, you are on your way to the proctologist, of course. If you are not entering your proctology birds as incidentals, you have brought great shame and dishonor to you and your family. Now that we have established this, I'll borrow a quote from the eBird website: "The importance of using Incidental Observations only as a last resort cannot be...overstated. Data recorded without effort are of use for more limited analyses, typically mapping and seasonal distribution information."

Do you see?  It really is that simple.  Unless you are entering an incidental observation of an uncommon or seasonally uncommon bird, or are in an area poorly represented in eBird data, there is really no point in eBirding the Proctology House Finch unless it's to beef up one of your own lists, or worse, to boost your number of total submitted checklists, which is embarrassing. Here in Alameda County, entering all my House Finches I see (which is a lot, they nest in my house) into eBird really does not contribute any sort of knowledge to anyone; they are abundant, well-established, year-round residents captured in other checklists constantly and there is no one who needs to be convinced of this...so both on a practical and statistical level, Proctology House Finch would not accomplish anything.  Maybe if we had some nuclear fallout to deal with, I might change my tune.

Proctology House Finches ultimately serve no other purpose besides scratching some itch in your own head...an itch that all other eBird users can now see. Rest easy, anxious eBird users...you don't have to eBird all birds. The birds, and eBird, are going to be ok without your constant vigilance. Maybe you could focus your energies on educating people on outdoor cats, or finding Vague Runts.

Remember, eBird is not just a scientific and birding tool...it is also a window to the soul.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Right Side of History...Amateurs of Skulk...A Fowl of Mystery




This mama harrier was being followed around by a gaggle of needy juveniles. Nesting season has about run its course, and now thousands of birds are getting ready to fly the wrong direction and vagrate their way to California.  Coyote Hills Regional Park, Fremont, CA.

Before I start rambling about recent bird sightings, I need to talk about the last post...I couldn't believe the response that it elicited. That post rapidly rocketed to the second most popular post BB&B has ever put out, and really it is the most popular post among birders (Reddit traffic accounted for the higher popularity of another post).

This took me completely by surprise...but I think it captured something that no one had bothered to really explain before, at least not in depth. And the people were ready for it. Birders were coming out of the woodwork to congratulate me on that one, and amazingly I have yet to be trolled. Maybe it's because I have birding history on my side?  Or maybe the birders who prefer asking the internet for bird identification rather than opening a field guide don't read BB&B?  I don't think anyone read that post and thought "Things will never be the same...", but as #7 I have no choice but to bellow my trendsetting voice into the Birdosphere and hope the people will hear me.

And now, on to birds.


It's always deeply unsettling for birders to see harriers soaring high above them. Maybe because we are not used to it? Or maybe because this is the last thing millions of birds and rodents have seen over the years before they met their demise? This must be a terrifying angle of harrier-viewing for many creatures.


Big flocks of American White Pelicans wheeling around in the sky is never an unsettling sight. I can still remember how remarkable I thought it was the first few times I ran into some some big migrant flocks. Though no longer remarkable, I still find it difficult to look away. Photographed at Coyote Hills.

Lesser Goldfinches don't make it onto BB&B very often, mostly because I see them constantly. Familiarity breeds contempt. I don't despise them, it just doesn't occur to me to put them on here...and I don't know why I'm still trying to explain all of this to you. Lesser Goldfinches are late nesters, as evidenced by this female enthusiastically gathering nesting material. Photographed at Coyote Hills.


You know what they say...if you are going to put up pictures of absurdly common birds, you better crush them. This is for all of you out east who live a lonely, single-goldfinch-species-life.


Monarchs are suckers for milkweed, aren't they?  This one was busy laying eggs, not something I see very often with any butterfly. Photographed at Coyote Hills.


Not long ago one Flycatcher Jen graced the bay area with her brownish presence, but it was a bit of a struggle to figure out where we should go birding. Finally we settled on chasing a bizarre rarity...of sorts...with a stop for Least Bitterns on the way. The bitterns were not hard to find (a luxury when looking for Least Bittern, trust me) and we got solid looks at this mostly-grown chick. Photographed at the Las Gallinas Ponds, Marin County, CA.


There were two chicks doing a mediocre job of hiding in the reeds, with at least one adult flying around foraging for the chicks. I did not expect to be seeing Least Bittern chicks...they are masters of skulk, but I guess the young ones were still working on their mastery. This was a sweet sweet lifer for FJ, and a savory Marin County bird for me.


There were hordes of Common Gallinules out that day, with HY birds and chicks everywhere. I was dumbfounded when I saw this HY gallinule feeding a chick, which is obviously not its own (too young to breed). Maybe a sibling from a different brood? Anyone seen this before? One of the parent birds was very nearby and seemed ok with it. Photographed at the Las Gallinas Ponds.


This Cinnamon Teal hen was loafing in the sun with a few ducklings. The lighting was rough but it was too cute to not try for photos.  Photographed at the Las Gallinas Ponds.


We also saw this creature. Do you recognize it bellowing?


You probably recognize it, good for you. This Black-bellied Whistling-Duck was seen by birders for about a week on the east side of Santa Rosa before it disappeared. It is a troublesome bird, not because it was hard to find or because it attacked people with incapacitating whistles (I heard it whistle hella, and I remained capacitated), but because it is difficult to know where it came from.  It had no bands, no missing hallux. Could it be a natural vagrant? Maybe. Could it be an escaped bird? Maybe, but my source says it definitely did not come from Safari West, which houses myriad exotic animals. Photographed at Lake Ralphine, Santa Rosa.



The bird was hella tame, which some birders thought was indicative of a captive origin, though these birds are about as wary as your average park-dwelling coot or Mallard down in Texas.  I didn't find that very concerning. As the old saying goes, waterfowl can be wary or not depending on their location...my old Tufted Duck friend from Lake Merritt probably spent most of the year fleeing people on sight and the rest of the year swimming a couple feet away from horrible children hoping to be tossed a bread crumb. On one hand BBWD are notorious for being found far north of their normal range (mid-spring through early fall, generally), but on the other hand they don't have much of a pattern of occurrence for doing that in California. It's a tricky bird, more so (in my opinion) than the Gray Thrasher found in San Diego the same day, but a betting man would not put money on this bird getting a stamp of approval from The Bird Police. Such is birding.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Human Birdwatcher Project Presents: The Democratization of Birding



This is a Broad-tailed Hummingbird.  This fact is not disputable, though there are many who would put their disputing caps on and try anyway.  Photographed in Miller Canyon, AZ.

Today's post is brought to you by The Human Birdwatcher Project, where "Birders are people too!" and birding-by-vote can lead down a dark path indeed.

In a true democracy, decisions are made by the majority, plain and simple. Most decisions decided by voters are based on personal values.  In these situations, wrong and right is entirely subjective.  You know this, and I don't think it needs any more explaining.

It was not long ago when the words "democracy" and "birding" could never be uttered in the same sentence...but that was Then, and this is Now.  Birders knew the other local birders, gossiped about birds and birders, and went about their business (birding).  The ABA and various Bird Record Committees made decisions, big decisions, in relative isolation and with relative impunity.  For example, I can still remember the uproar that was caused when the ABA (allegedly) forcibly removed Papa Echo Lima from his throne (Editor of Birding), and there was a huge backlash from the birding community.  Many high-ranking birders were furious, and quit the ABA altogether. Think about that for a second, and put it in your pocket...we will take it out for another look later.

The very fabric of birding rapidly began changing in the 90's with the wide availability of the internet.  First, there was email, which led to listservs, and easy communication with birders around the world.  Next came digital cameras; people could digiscope with point and shoots, and then SLRs became more affordable to the general public, and now people can get good images with their phones. Bird photography was suddenly affordable, and not very difficult either. Birding blogs were springing up left and right.  Then there was social media...most birders were too old to jump on the Myspace train, but they latched on to Facebook and never let go. EBird was the frosting on the cake.

With everyone so connected now, there is a lot of communication going on between birders. It's intense. Birders who aren't even trying to sell you something have legions of Facebook friends/fans, and get huge responses to their photographs or ramblings on whatever it is they feel like expounding upon (be it birds or not)...birders just seem to eat it right up, whether it be pure gold or utter bullshit. The ABA's main FB group has over 6,700 members, and it manages multiple groups, a staggering fact.

One of the best and worst things about all of this, be it in a listserv or in a FB group, is that everyone has a voice.  Now some of you might be thinking, "What do you mean worst? Are you some kind of fascist?  Do you hate birders?", and it is those of you who need to hear this the most.  Birding has suddenly become a democracy.  And when it comes to birding, democracy is often not our friend.



Since we are all connected so closely these days, news of something like a stray Barrow's Goldeneye travels very fast. Everyone is connected, and is capable of getting the word out quickly. This is a good thing. Could there be a downside to this new, interconnected Democracy of Birding?  This is a non-stray Barrow's Goldeneye, photographed near Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA.

Look, it is all well and good when, for example, the ABA asks its members to vote on if they want to add Hawaii to the ABA area or not.  That's great, but it's not really what I'm aiming for here.  I'm talking about far more basic things here...bird identification, for example.

Bird Records Committees, or Bird Police, if you prefer, often function to identify birds. They often are quite good at carrying out these tasks because their members are either very knowledgeable, very experienced, or willing to listen to those who know more than they do...preferably all three.  With the occasional exception, they correctly identify birds that are often very difficult to identify.

Now consider attempting bird identification with this model in the public birding arena.  This should not be difficult to imagine, since it happens constantly...but I digress.  There are a lot of birders out there, a lot of new birders...and as there always has been, a lot of birders who are not good at identifying birds.  So what happens when a bunch of random birders get together to identify birds?

Chaos.

This is the fundamental distinction between democracy as a political system and democracy when it comes to birding...there is only one right answer.  The backyard birder's opinion on fall warbler identification is not as worthy as the person who bands hundreds of warblers during fall migration every year.  I'm not trying to be harsh, just stating a simple, logical truth...no reason to get all sore about it.

The Democratization of Birding and the internet go hand in hand. If you are a birder and have spent any time on the internet, you know what I am talking about. Someone will post a picture of a bird somewhere, and disturbingly often a bunch of people will collectively decide what the bird is.  They will vote on it! Even if someone, even if multiple people correctly identify the bird using sound and unassailable logic, they may get drowned out.  The birders getting the bird wrong often inexplicably get their feelings hurt when they are corrected, and claim they are being attacked! It is insane. The level of butthurt that emerges from these minor disagreements boggles the mind.

Democratic birding raises its many-faced head in other debates as well...escapees vs. natural vagrants, the effects of climate change on birds, and all manner of theories on why some birds show up in particular places (do you remember Hurricane Sandy?)...you know, birders can disagree on just about everything. The fact that the vast majority of birders do not have a background in science compounds the amount of confusion in discussions that veer from the topic of bird ID.  The potential for misinformation to spread unchecked is very high and has been sustained for some time now. I'm going through a blatant example this right now in another browser window, looking at SFBirds...are there three Indigo Buntings in Golden Gate Park?  Is the female a Lazuli?  Is the HY bird a Indigo X Lazuli?  Is this the first breeding record for the county?  Did they even breed in the park?  Bunting Chaos.  Luckily, the birder known as The Rustic Bunting Hero has stepped in, in an attempt to quell the masses...but a flareup of Bunting Unrest is just around the corner.



When you are a birder and pay a lot of attention to listservs, the Birdosphere, and Facebook groups, it's all too easy to want to make like a dowitcher and dunk your head under water for an unhealthy period of time in order to keep the thousands of voices at bay. Fortunately for these Short-billed Dowitchers, they will never know the pain of getting in to an internet fight with a bitter birder thousands of miles away. Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, Oakland, CA.

So what is the mechanism for all this confusion?  All this hate?  It is twofold. First, some birders mistakenly believe that everyone's opinion is equally important when it comes to bird identification, where a bird comes from, etc. Well...a bird can only be one thing, and some of us are better equipped to know that bird's story than others.  There is only one right answer, and that is usually in our collective grasp.  Most birds are not first cycle, heavily worn hybrid gulls, nor are they distant murrelets with confusing facial features seen from a mile away, nor are they Yellow Grosbeaks of questionable provenance (providence???). Most birds are knowable.  Clearly, we should always tend to defer to the most experienced, most trustworthy birders, because they are the ones who will mostly like get the identification right, which is the primary goal here for most birders. A dozen beginning and sketchy birders are usually not as qualified as one good birder to tell a Lesser Yellowlegs from a Greater, a Semipalmated Sandpiper from a Western. Second, being unfamiliar with the reputation of other birders can make one assume that they aren't highly skilled.  That is totally excusable for beginners of course, not being around for very long and whatnot, but that doesn't mean we can't give people the benefit of the doubt when debating ID with unknown birders. I even know someone, a very capable birder actually, who stated that he doesn't trust field guides (I mean books, not people) if he doesn't personally know the authors...gross. Lets not go that far. If everyone who doesn't personally know Steve Howell opens up Rare Birds of North America and thinks "this guy is a complete wanker", then the wonderful world of birding as we know it would simply not exist.

So what is the solution to all of this?  Unfortunately, I don't have one for you.  This is why we so badly need the Global Birder Ranking System to release its data on the world's birders.  The fact that they have all the world's birders skillsets catalogued (from social skills to subspecific storm-petrel ID), with ranks updated daily, is truly a tremendous feat...but the day they go public may never come.





If I posted this photo to whatbird.com or any number of Facebook birding groups asking for ID help, there would be wild conjecture.  Good guesses with good evidence would just get lost in the shuffle of folks crying out for TENNESSEE WARBLER! or ANOTHER VOTE FOR LEAST FLYCATCHER!...and I don't think that is constructive for anyone.  Since I know you are wondering, this is actually a Bell's Vireo. Funny to see that single new feather coming in, since this shot was taken in spring. Photographed at South Padre Island, TX.

On the flipside, why don't you take that fateful decision regarding Papa Echo Lima out of your pocket. If that decision with that editor happened today, in 2015, the ABA would face a catastrophic backlash as soon as the news broke. Hundreds of people would be taking up arms on Facebook, denouncing them for what they had done, shaming and trolling to no end.  The birdosphere would be aflame with hate. For good or ill, it probably never would have happened if the birding community has the collective voice that it does now. The new Democracy of Birding is not inherently evil, but it's getting a little too close to The Dark Side of Birding for comfort...but perhaps we will have to live with that if we continue to take advantage of this open and free exchange of ideas.

Actually, no...there is room for improvement. Don't be a dick. Don't get butthurt. Think before you type. Don't throw your bullshit hat into the ring if you know your hat is covered in bullshit, unless you admit it up front (people actually do this a lot, it does not go unappreciated). If you are going to challenge experts, by all means do (it's quite fun, actually), but back your claims with evidence. When someone posts a picture of a real Gray Hawk, do not reply with a hilariously dismissive "not convinced" and then quit the Facebook group after you are corrected (this really happened). Simply, be excellent to each other. With so much we can all learn, I hope birders carry on with this haphazard democracy in the right way, but only time will tell.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Raft Rage Out of Half Moon Bay


Pelagic season has started off with a bang...not with any proper rarities, but with the next best thing...huge rafts of storm-petrels!  I've seen bigger flocks, but these birds were relatively approachable and were very diverse. I was one of the leaders on the August 2 Shearwater Journeys trip out of Half Moon Bay, which featured warm temperatures, calm seas, and a solid variety of seabirds.  But before the petrels came to pass, there were a lot of other highlights. Right out of the harbor I got my county sea otter, which is a rarity this far north.


Marine mammals were plentiful offshore, with numerous humpback whales, including a few who were engaging in some facemelting breaches, which this obviously is not a picture of.


Pink-footed and Sooty Shearwaters. There were some big shearwater flocks in relatively shallow water, feeding in big groups alongside assorted marine mammals.


This shearwater flock was diving into the water amongst a big pod of short-beaked common dolphins. It was a vulgar display of marine life.


Common dolphins are more of a SoCal species, so they are always a nice surprise this far north. They also really like bowriding, so they almost always come in close to the boat.


Can't complain about looks like this.  We also had Dall's and harbor porpoises, and Pacific white-sided dolphins during the day.  Other nonbirds of note included fur seals, Steller's sea lion, and two blue sharks.


Sabine's Gulls in alternate plumage are one of the best things to see offshore, not so much for rarity or majesty, but for overall aesthetics.


Aesthetically pleasing is an understatement.


As I've mentioned in one of the recent Maine posts, Arctic Terns are missed on many boat trips and are often tough to get a respectable look at.  This bird was loafing on some driftwood and was much more cooperative than the average offshore tern.



Nice wing pattern on this young bird.


Unlike the Arctic Terns and Sabine's Gulls, this Scripps's Murrelet was butt ugly. It's undergoing some serious molt, and has a bill deformity to boot. I generally do not talk ill of murrelets of any kind, but this one was astonishingly trashy. I'm sure it'll look much better in a few weeks.



No matter how often I see Black-footed Albatross, and no matter how many photos I take of them, I can't seem to stop, and they invariably make it into pelagic trip posts no matter what. So here is a gratuitous albatross photo, I hope ya'll have the same tireless enthusiasm for them that I do. Apparently the captain of another boat saw a couple Laysan Albatross in the same area the day before, but we had to be happy with BFAL.


I said storm-petrels made this trip, so lets get into some storm-petrels.  This is an Ashy Storm-Petrel, and amazingly enough you can actually make out its ashy color tones.  Compare the relative paleness of this bird with the Black Storm-Petrel a few photos below.


We had over 100 Wilson's Storm-Petrels on the day, which is a new record in California.  It was weird to see so many...this was California, not North Carolina. They aren't as wary of boats as the other storm-petrel species here can be, so we typically get pretty good looks at them when they are found.


Although the number of Wilson's present were surprising, I couldn't get over how many Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels were out there.  There were hundreds of them, and I didn't see a single one on trips last year...in fact I'm not sure if anyone did!  Talk about an unpredictable bird...


To round out the storm-petrels for the day, here is a Black Storm-Petrel.


This is a part of one of the rafts of petrels we came across.  Some of us on the boat were getting weak at the knees at the sight of so many clustered together...these flocks are fertile grounds for holding some kind of rarity, and it does not help that both Wedge-rumped and Tristram's Storm-Petrels were found a few miles away on the Farallones earlier this year.  All four species shown above are visible in this photo.

I like how this little group of Fork-taileds has composed themselves.  That's an Ashy on the bottom right, note the dark gray (not black) color compared to the silvery Fork-taileds, which are seemingly manufactured to be the color of a fog bank.


Bear witness to another storm-petrel raft, with all four species.  Hopefully the storm-petrels will be holding it down for a while longer, it would be great to track these flocks down again.  Big storm-petrel flocks are a luxury, not a reliable thing at all, and seeing so many at the very beginning of August totally took me by surprise.


I worked with Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels in Alaska, so I have a soft spot for them.  Here's one of the closer shots I got.


On the way back in we came across this juvenile Tufted Puffin, doing its best Rhinoceros Auklet impression, which they are prone to do.  That's a Common Murre on the left.

So, all in all a hella good trip, though I still have not met a Hawaiian Petrel...I'll try again this weekend.