Friday, August 5, 2011

Watch It IX--Whaling

Even though whaling is nearly extinct and universally frowned upon, I engaged in some yesterday. Actually, it was purely accidental--I was tracking a Cassin's Auklet when a pair of giant nostrils rolled up out of the sea in the background. I see whales from shore fairly often, but it is always a treat to see a Blue Whale on the way to work.

I continue to be impressed with each day's individuality. The sea is not static; there is always something different from the previous week. Yesterday, the difference was dramatic: jaegers and Pink-footed Shearwaters suddenly appearing in numbers, Elegant Terns again abundant to the point of irritation, and my first Common Tern and Black-bellied Plover seen from the pier this summer. Regularly birding the same location has its value.

Newport Pier, Orange, US-CA
Aug 4, 2011 5:50 AM - 7:55 AM
Protocol: Stationary
Comments: Weather: mostly clear, with patchy fog/cloud banks (it was sunny most of the time I was there; however, while driving down, I drove through some really dense fog banks, and towards the end the sun was concealed), calm, cool. It's always a good day when you see a Blue Whale on the way to work. Also, a few notables in the avian department--a bunch of jaegers, a huge influx in PFSH numbers, first COTE of the summer, and a lot more ELTE than the last few weeks.
29 species (+1 other taxa)

Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) 1
Pink-footed Shearwater (Puffinus creatopus) 35 Where did they come all come from?? After seeing one or two every seawatch all summer, they were all over the place--this number is very conservative. There could have easily been 50+ present. There was a large, strung-out feeding frenzy of dolphins with WEGU, ELTE, and BRPE attending, and many of the PFSH were zooming around that, some of them landing on the water to check it out.
Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus) 425
Black-vented Shearwater (Puffinus opisthomelas) 4
Black Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma melania) 5
Brandt's Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) 20
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) 4
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) 400 Including many juveniles.
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) 1
Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) 4 First I've seen on the beach this summer.
Willet (Tringa semipalmata) 34
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) 8
Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa) 12
Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) 32
Heermann's Gull (Larus heermanni) 200
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis) 700 More than usual--there were lots of birds offshore sitting on the water and flying around.
Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia) 3
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) 1
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus) 3
Elegant Tern (Thalasseus elegans) 800
Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) 2
Pomarine Jaeger (Stercorarius pomarinus) 7 Literally the first bird I saw through my scope was a light-morph POJA. The first I've seen from the pier this summer, and strange that there were so many. Definitely different individuals--I had one light morph adult with full tail spoons, three light morph subadults chasing a single tern, and a couple dark morphs. Quite the show.
jaeger sp. (Stercorarius sp. (jaeger sp.)) 2
Common Murre (Uria aalge) 1 One flying "north"--looked to be in basic-type plumage. Pretty distant.
Cassin's Auklet (Ptychoramphus aleuticus) 11 Back down to regular numbers...
Rhinoceros Auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata) 2 A couple, the first spotted on the water--I hardly ever spot alcids at rest. The other was a fly-by.
Rock Pigeon (Columba livia) 40
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) 2
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 3
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 2

1 comment:

Chatterbirds said...

I keep being amazed by what you see from that pier. Blue Whale-incredible! You should give sea watching tours or workshops from that pier.