Friday, June 1, 2012

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

A common dolphin gets the big air the kids love.

Happy June, and welcome to another astounding Friday edition of BB&B. Of course, this is the only place on the internet that heaps praise upon the American birdwatching community, yet dishes out the cold and merciless ridicule it rightfully deserves.

Here is the last installment from a pelagic off San Diego I went on a couple weeks ago. As you may have guessed, if I start out a blog post with frakking dolphins, it wasn't exactly a very good day for seabirds out there...the power-birders were bummed, and even the beginners got bored. Maybe I just need to go to Monterey Bay next time.

Several pods of dolphins attempted to cheer up the gloomy birders on the boat, with some success. Common dolphins lived up to their name; I think this is a Long-beaked.

Common dolphins can do it all...swim, fly (apparently), star in Douglas Adams novels, save people's lives or even kill them. Why there are not more dolphin-worshipping religions out there is strange to me. I think this one is a Short-beaked Common Dolphin, but I'm no expert.

Remember friends, whenever you buy tuna, you are supporting the only industry that still kills lots of dolphins. "Dolphin-safe" my ass. If you are a fish-eater, stick to Albacore...they do not suffer from greatly depleted stocks and are line-caught, which greatly reduces the potential for cetacean bycatch.

If you care, at all, how your diet may be affecting life at sea (most birders sadly don't), there are a lot of good educational resources out there...Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch is a great place to start.

Pink-footed Shearwaters are one of the 3 seasonally-common shearwaters in California waters, the others being Sooty and Black-vented (SoCal only). A lot of the shearwaters offshore now are in heavy molt and aren't exactly sharp-looking.

Pink-footed Shearwaters are aptly named.

Black Storm-Petrels are easy to find off San Diego. The word "languid" was invented when someone first observed a Black Storm-Petrel in flight. "Languid" is currently used more to describe the flight style of Black Storm-Petrels than anywhere else in the English language.

Least Terns were not something we expected to see 30 miles offshore, but there were more than just these two out there. I had no idea they foraged this far offshore, but am not completely surprised...their wintering grounds are still a mystery, and are thought to be somewhere far from sight of land.

This bird is interesting. This was one of a handful of Common Terns that flew by at one point...curiously, this bird seems to have an entirely gray upperwing, which is not the norm for the species...I attribute that to the season and the atrocious lighting. If anyone really knows their Common Tern wing patterns, feel free to drop some knowledge...I don't think the bird is a Forster's, and blowing up and lightening the photo shows it is clearly not an Arctic just by looking at the bill alone.

Xantus' Murrelet with its Xantus' Murreletlet.

Hella good parenting right here.

Red-necked Phalaropes are some of the smallest birds that make a living on the ocean; like storm-petrels, their (pelagic) diet is restricted to the crud that is at the very surface. Mmmmm, delicious surface crud...

A sad picture of the one Sabine's Gull of the day. Still working on getting a passable photo of one of these sharp birds...this is a species I definitely wish I could see more of.

Risso's Dolphins! I haven't seen one in many years. They are easily identified at a distance by all their scars. Stoked.


  1. Beautiful Dolphin images, they are such wonderful creatures. Love the birds images too of course!

    How do the Risso's Dolphins get so many scars?

    1. Thanks's hard to say, either from other Rissos, or from large squid (their preferred prey), or both.

  2. Any trip with dolphins is a great trip, even without birds. Everyone loves Flipper. Very interesting bird varieties there. The only ones I've seen here in Florida are the terns. Least terns are nesting here now but I don't know where they go in the winter either.

    1. A birdless pelagic trip would break my heart! Dolphins would help though, its true.

  3. If you decide to go out of Monterey let me know. Would love to tag along. I have been meaning to do a pelagic trip for some time now, but keep balking at the $$$. I can bring whiskey.

    1. might want to go on one of Alvaro Jamarillo's boats, they are cheaper than Debi's. Hell, you could just go on a whalewatching boat...usually, where there's marine mammals, there are birds.

      If I go it'll prolly be in September or October...start studying!

  4. Those are some outstanding dolphin shots....great job:)

    1. Thanks Tammy! Too bad I couldnt get any flying fish shots...

  5. Oh dear, your blog has gone to the dolphins. Interestingly it seems to have increased your following, whereas I have managed to lose a follower over the weekend.

    Seriously though sweet dolphin shots. The shearwater is pretty rad too. Tuna=boo.