Subject: September 19, 2009 SPI pelagic summary
Date: Sun, 20 Sep 2009 17:31:04 GMT
From: Brad McKinney
Like the two previous pelagics this summer, today's trip off South Padre Island had calm seas and great birds, and produced yet another Texas rarity.
Dawn broke with a spectacular sunrise as the pelagic crew headed out to deepwater. It wasn't long before both Atlantic spotted and bottlenose
dolphins greeted us near the first shrimp boat, which held Royal, Sandwich and Common Terns. Continuing eastward we encountered numerous
migrating heron/egret flocks flying southward and several Black Terns sitting on flotsam while flying fish streaked across clear blue
oceanic water. We also were accompanied by a male Wilson’s Warbler, which followed us for a better part of an hour, and even
landed on the heads of leaders Dwight Peake and Randy Pinkston before flying off only to return again and again. Although there were
fewer migrants than the August trip, we encountered a few landbirds, including a pewee sp., another Wilson’s Warbler and a few
As we reached the second shrimp boat, just five or so miles from the 100-fathom deepwater curve, we had a flyby Masked Booby and five Magnificent
Frigatebirds perched on the shrimp boat. Just minutes after pulling up beside the shrimp boat, a dark shearwater wheeled in near the stern and
landed just 50 feet from our boat. After leader Eric Carpenter quickly shouted Sooty Shearwater, we all had extended looks at this fantastic bird.
If accepted by the TBRC, this would be the 15th record for the state and just the second for the Lower Coast, the last being from January 1992.
After reaching deepwater, the birding was relatively slow although we had a smattering of expected Cory's Shearwaters (8), a couple of Bridled Terns,
at least a couple dozen Black Terns perched on floating debris, and great looks at an adult Masked Booby before working our way back across
continental shelf waters. Most of the migrating Black Terns were found well offshore compared three weeks ago when birds were still locked
in to coastal waters.
On the return trip we visited the same shrimp boat that had the Sooty Shearwater five hours earlier and were treated to more dolphin displays
with at least three mother/youngsters pairs, more magnificent views of frigatebirds, and brief looks of a probable 1st year Arctic Tern.
Unfortunately, the tern in question was seen by just a handful of sharp-eyed observers before disappearing off the stern of the boat. As of
yet there are no identifiable photos of the tern although it is possible that some may still surface. On the way in we also had decent looks
at a Pomarine/Parasitic-type jaeger. Photos of the jaeger and other great birds and cetaceans will be posted in the next few days at Texas
seabirding website http://www.texaspelagics.com. Weather permitting we should have a great opportunity to study jaegers on the November 15 pelagic.
Many, many thanks go out to Cate Ball of SPI World Birding Center for organizing this summer's trips, pelagic leaders Eric Carpenter, Mary Gustafson,
Petra Hockey, Dwight Peake, and Randy Pinkston for their excellent guiding skills, Gary Hodne for his photography and maintenance of the Texas
seabirding website, and especially to all the participants who are participating in the ongoing expansion of knowledge of the status and distribution
of seabirds off the Texas coast. Thanks so much for your support! We hope you can join us on the year’s final pelagic of the year on Nov 15.
For more details see, http://www.rgvbirdfestival.com/field-trips/#Pelagic
Cory's Shearwater (8)
SOOTY SHEARWATER (1)
Masked Booby (5)
Magnificent Frigatebird (9)
Jaeger species (1)
Bridled Tern (2)
PELAGIC CRUISE COURSE
Click on the waypoints to see approximate times and sightings
GPS Waypoints courtesy of Dwight Peake
View SPI Pelagic 09-19-2009 in a larger map