Subject: Recap of Saturday's South Padre Island Pelagic Trip August 27, 2011
Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2011 22:49:15 GMT
From: Brad McKinney
Subject: SPI pelagic summary 27 August 2011
Saturday's pelagic off South Padre was exceptional on all counts. The seas were calm, the wind was light, and seabird activity
was consistent during most of our time in deepwater. With such calm conditions, we were able to reach the deepwater 100-fathom curve,
about 45 miles out, just after 10:00 am. Blue water began only seven miles out with the deep cobalt blue water only 20 miles offshore.
Lots of flying fish were seen throughout the day. There was only minimal birding activity on the anchored shrimp boats on the way out,
mostly Royal, Sandwich, and Common Terns, in that order of abundance.
We had numerous Black Terns during the first two hours of the trip and a smattering of migrating waders and ducks.
We had our first seabird, a Masked Booby, at 10:30 am and spent the next three and a
half hours working the tidewater lines around 70 miles out where we encountered several tuna schools. At about 10:40 am, we had decent
looks at a lone Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, which made one long pass along the boat before soaring out of sight. After good looks at a
Bridled Tern, we encountered a rare pod of 40 Rough-toothed Dolphins, a first sighting of this cetacean on Texas pelagic trips.
For the next 15-20 minutes, the captain made a slow circle and the dolphins treated us to a playful bow-riding spectacle.
It took four Bridled Terns to pry us away from the dolphins. While sitting on debris, a couple of Bridled Terns allowed the boat
to approach quite closely providing excellent views.
By 11:30 am we found the first of several fish schools, which held Bridled, Black, Least, and Common Terns. Shortly before noon,
we found a tuna school with a most impressive Whale Shark, estimated at 40 feet, which nearly kissed the boat. In the vicinity,
we had extended looks at three Audubon's Shearwaters and both Sooty (3) and Bridled Terns. We also had an unidentifiable
jaeger scream by, a probable Parastic.
In a nearby feeding frenzy we observed three small Atlantic Sharp-nosed Sharks attacking the surface after minnows.
After another closeup Bridled Tern flyby, we got good looks at four Band-rumped Storm-Petrels
and one Leach's Storm Petrel flying low across the bow. The Leach's provided extended looks both on the water and in flight.
We had another Leach's Storm-Petrel at 2:00 pm, still in deepwater at 200 fathoms.
Leach's Storm-Petrel is a Texas review species; Eric Carpenter welcomes any photographic or written details.
In early afternoon we saw a few migrant landbirds: swallow sp., Olive-sided Flycatcher, Yellow and Wilson's Warblers, and Orchard Oriole.
In the late afternoon, we had a couple of more Masked Boobies, the last one was just four or five miles from shore.
A great time was had by all. If leaders or participants see any errors or omissions in this summary, please let me know.
The following is the seabirds trip list, with our best approximation of numbers:
Audubon's Shearwater (5)
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (5)
Leach's Storm-Petrel (2)
Masked Booby (3)
Jaeger sp. (1)
Bridled Tern (20)
Sooty Tern (3)
Rough-toothed Dolphins (40+)
Pelagic Bottle-nosed Dolphins (30+)
Whale Sharks (2)
Atlantic Sharp-nosed Sharks (10)
Many thanks to co-leaders Eric Carpenter, Mary Gustafson, Petra Hockey, and Randy Pinkston for a fantastic job.
Special thanks to both Eric Carpenter and Tamie Bulow and the SPI Birding and Nature Center for exceptional efforts in
organization and sponsorship of this year's pelagic trips.
Look for photos and trip details soon at Gary Hodne's Texas Pelagics website,
Looking forward to next year!
Brad McKinney Rancho Viejo, TX