Friday, October 18, 2013

September Over Cordell Bank

Well, it turns out that my October 6 boat was not my last pelagic of the year...I wam returning to Bodega Bay today for yet another boat. Why not? This time I am filling the shoes of both Steve Howell and Peter Pyle, which should be really, really easy. In case you haven't heard, I'm #7.

Cordell Bank and Bodega Canyon have amassed a long list of pelagic rarities over the years, and with this being possibly the last pelagic in the area for the year, now is the time to make something happen. Recent reports from there mention lots of albatross right now, which bodes very, very well.

But who knows what will happen...perhaps we will see nothing but Mola Molas all day, you never know. This post covers some of what was on my last Bodega trip, back on September 20.

Black-footed Albatross is often a common bird found on pelagic trips, but my last boat (October 6) somehow missed them altogether...I reckon they are concentrated offshore from Bodega Bay. Next month both adults and subadults alike will return to their breeding colonies in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and get down to some serious dancing.

Dall's Porpoise are encountered on many pelagic trips...they are fickle bowriders, sometimes enthusiastic about the boat and sometimes completely disinterested. Even when they are swimming right next to you, they are bloody hard to take a photograph of...they are in and out of the water so quickly that you typically only get a picture of a big splash. Anyways...they are black and white, a very modern cetacean.

Pacific White-sided Dolphins are a little more confiding. This is often the most abundant dolphin species to be found offshore.

This photo is hella is hard. Anyway, it's a Pomarine Jaeger.

This is a second-year Long-tailed Jaeger. The stubby bill and slender body confirm the bird is a Long-tailed, but they generally have 2-3 white primary shafts, unlike this bird. Insert tired cliche of birds not reading field guides here.

Another very useful mark for Long-tailed Jaeger is the significant contrast of the secondaries with the rest of the's pretty obvious on the bird's right wing. Unfortunately, I think I have already seen my last Long-tailed of the year.

By the time people are spending more and more time contemplating what they Halloween costume is going to be, Sabine's Gulls have just about finished migrating through California...Black-legged Kittiwakes might be more likely small gull offshore now. Winter is coming...Nothern Fulmars are here, and Short-tailed Shearwaters have just begun to show up.

This South Polar Skua has an eyering, and is adept at shitting.

Just a Pink-footed Shearwater. I like that strange, plated bill, but that eye is something else. It's blacker than black. It has no depth. It is the eye of a creature that knows a fundamental truth that I will never, ever come close to knowing.

Whales have been in abundance this year. This is a Humpback. Whales are great, but they are surprisingly easy to ignore if there are a lot of birds around. This understanding comes with a high GBRS score; other people (and birders) cannot begin to fathom how this could be.

It should be noted that this whale was mortally harmed by the force of me crushing it so hard. Shortly after this photo was taken, the flukes crumpled and fell off it's tail.

The Blue Whale show offshore has been great this year. The seas are loaded with corpulent krill consumers.

Blue Whale flukes are clean, trim and streamlined compared to the rest of the whale's body. For whatever reason they rarely seem to have as much shit hanging off of them as Humpbacks.

Of course, the real highlight of this trip was the storm-petrels...more Fork-tailed than I have ever seen, and more Ashies than possibly ANYONE had ever seen...but I'll leave that for another post.


  1. I think that flat black eye is the marker of a seasoned killer. Frequent description of a serial killers eyes before they stab you. Don't expect mercy, if you see that.

    GREAT use of "confiding." Write props! =) Nice buffet, thanks! *urp!*

    1. Of COURSE I screw up when I'm WRITING about how great your WRITING is.
      Writer props, was the phrase goal... =) Happy freakin' Saturday!

  2. Thanks BB. Its always strange to have sea creatures confide in land mammals like myself...but maybe they think the same about us.