San Diego WEDGE-TAILED Shearwater, thousands of shearwaters, whalewatch “chase” suggestions
Today’s (8/26) regular Buena Vista Audubon sponsored pelagic trip off San Diego aboard “Legacy” out of Mission Bay recorded a light-morph Wedge-tailed Shearwater very close to the boat only 5 to 5-1/2 miles offshore from Mission Bay. In the same area was a very impressive concentration of birds totaling about 4000+ Pink-footed Shearwaters, 4000+ Black-vented Shearwaters, and 400+ Sooty Shearwaters. This is likely by far and away a record high count of Pink-foots for San Diego County waters, and is also a good count for Sooties for this time of year. These large numbers have been present now for just over a week, according to the captain.
A full report from the trip will be posted early tomorrow morning on this listserv, and via shared eBird reports in another 2-3 days.
For those folks interested in either giving the Wedge-tailed a Hail Mary try or to simply see the current shearwater spectacle before it disappears, one could try one of the whalewatch trips that will likely visit these same waters, although obviously they will unfortunately not specifically chase large flocks of birds for better looks, and certainly not change course for just one particular bird. But today’s trip on the Privateer saw very large numbers of birds in this general area as well. Given that the birds are currently off, and just north of, Mission Bay (although there were pretty good numbers on the lower Nine-Mile Bank off southern Point Loma, but not nearly as many), one should take a whalewatch out of Mission Bay (e.g., Legacy, Privateer) rather than ones out of San Diego Bay (e.g., Hornblower)–while this concentration remains close to where it has been the past few days. Also, take the morning, not afternoon, trips for better viewing and sea conditions. A trip was already being organized on the Legacy for this coming half-price Wednesday, but it would be recommended to go sooner rather than later to improve your chances that the large numbers will still be present. Supposed to be somewhat windy again tomorrow but then calm down starting Monday.
–Paul Lehman, San Diego