Well, as you can probably surmise, the first Santa Cruz Island visit was a success. I am now on the beginning of my second stint, where I have to convince my intern that I know exactly what I'm doing...indeed, the Weird have turned Pro. Who knows what he will think when I drop the "Number 7" bomb on him...
By the time you are reading this I will be engulfed in seabird work, and may in fact be molting into a cormorant. Hopefully I will still have enough free time to be posting regularly....but for now here are a few pics, and check out The Great Ornithologist Felonious Jive's latest contribution to The Birdosphere.
Lot's of Brandt's Cormorants are busy building their nests out here on Santa Cruz, unlike the one above. I reckon it's a pretty sweet picture if I do say so myself, even if it was taken with (gasp) an iPhone. That's sea rocket growing out from it's remnants.
Those of you nerds who have not been to the island are probably more concerned about this bird than anything else, so I'm just going to get it out of the way. This is an Island Scrub-Jay, endemic to Santa Cruz Island, and undoubtedly the U.S. bird with the smallest global range. The jays are easy to see on the right parts of the island and we have a family of them that hold court here at Christy Ranch.
An Island Fox. When people talk about them, it's usually in regards to theft, pissing and shitting. Many more pics of these courageous minifoxes to come.
A Common Raven lurks at Christy Ranch, where I'll be living much of the time I'm on the island. Due to drought the ranch's water supply is screwed, so we will see how that works out for us...hopefully this bird won't be picking at our remains later this year.
There are a lot of Scripps's Murrelets around the Channel Islands, where they breed at a feverish and disgusting pace. I was crushing them so hard my camera began to overheat and melt in to my hand...it hurt hella. Other stuff that were out during the crossings were Common Murres, Cassin's Auklets, Rhinoceros Auklets, Red-necked Phalaropes, Bonaparte's Gulls, Sooty Shearwaters and Northern Fulmars.
This Brown Pelican was decimating a huge school of fish that were feeding next to the pier at Prisoner's Harbor. Pelicans don't breed on Santa Cruz but there is, of course, no shortage of them.
We saw common dolphins almost every day, either from boat or land. As someone who is now paid to look at foraging seabird flocks, its always good to keep an eye on what the dolphins are doing. When not frolicking, they are massacring the gilled ones.
Gray Whale breaching. So, so sick.