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#405 Not as bad as the last 9 weeks! 3 SP Skuas, Masked-type booby

9:21 pm

I decided to go out on the Hornblower one more time before the hurricane that has all of us with visions of wedge-rumped storm-petrels and Kermadec petrels dancing in our heads.
Although I am pretty sure that all we’re going to see is torrential downpour and poor visibility.

Conditions started out pretty smooth. We, as usual, headed directly south for 5 miles, then turned west out to the 9-Mile Bank.
For the first 11 miles of the trip, things were just as they have been: not a single pelagic bird or interesting migrant.
Then as we headed west, finally, 6 miles west of Pt. Loma, we came upon a pod of about 40 common dolphins, accompanied by 11 black-vented shearwaters and 1 sooty shearwater. Plus 1 brown booby, a juvenile.
Another 1.5 miles west we came to a pod of 650 common dolphins. It was accompanied by 11 black-vented shearwaters and 1 sooty shearwater.

FINALLY, at about 9 miles west of the point, we came to a congregation of shearwaters with a pod of about 75 common dolphins.
400+ black-vented shearwaters, 7 sooty shearwaters, and 21 pink-footed shearwaters.
2 Sabine’s gulls and 2 pomarine jaegers. All adults.
1 brown booby: an adult female.

The seas began to get pretty choppy by about 11:00.
We got to the 9-Mile Bank and spent 45 minutes driving along it.
A total of 6 birds in those 45 minutes: 1 black storm-petrel, 1 pink-footed shearwater, and 3 South Polar skuas sitting together on the water before being spooked into the air by the boat, the most I have seen in a single day here [and always a rare bird here anyway; most years I don’t see any].
Then just as we came turned east and came off the edge of the Bank, a first-cycle Masked-type booby flew past, heading south.

The 14 mile journey back was graced by 1 sooty shearwater [count approximate; estimated by 1’s]

I saw no alcids, phalaropes or offshore terns other than elegant.

Other than the skuas, and the masked-type booby, these totals for today would have comprised a mediocre trip in previous years.
But today’s total is more seabirds than I have seen in 21 trips since mid-June.

Stan Walens, San Diego
August 18, 2023; 8:30 pm