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Short pelagic trip report for Sunday, May 12th

The first Buena Vista Audubon pelagic birding trip of 2019 departed Sunday on the Grande under cloudy skies, with a relatively light swell and a nice northwesterly breeze – near ideal conditions, particularly for finding alcids, and we found plenty. The highlight for many participants was the excellent views of Scripps’s Murrelets throughout the day, including a pair with two chicks. Although the timing of nesting varies from year to year, probably relating in part to resource availability, this is a fairly early date for fledglings. We also had frequent, though often a bit distant, views of Cassin’s Auklets, so most participants were able to get comfortable with their identification in flight compared to Scripps’s Murrelets. Probably the biggest surprise of the day was a Pigeon Guillemot that flew across the bow as we were approaching the Thirty-mile Bank. It’s a bit earlier than expected for a guillemot, and most observations in the County are from sea-watches at Point La Jolla, not from boats that far offshore.


We had all three expected species of shearwaters, with Sooty Shearwaters being the most abundant by far, followed by a dozen or so cooperative Pink-footed Shearwaters, and a few late Black-vented Shearwaters. Black Storm-Petrels were also seen frequently throughout the day, with moderate numbers of Ashy, and a few dark-rumped Leach’s (subspecies chapmani).


The whales and dolphins did not disappoint either. We had excellent views of Fin and Blue whales, and the Common Dolphins periodically put on an acrobatic show as they approached the boat for some bow-riding. Unofficial total bird counts for the day are at the end of this post.


Our next trip will be on Sunday, June 9th. Trip details are on our website, We hope to see you on the boat!


Bruce Rideout and Dave Povey

San Diego Pelagics and Buena Vista Audubon


Species Totals:


Common Loon                       2

Pacific Loon                            30

Double-crested Cormorant  1

Brandt's Cormorant              25

Brown Pelican                       55

Brown Booby                         2

Red-necked Phalarope         54

Bonaparte's Gull                    1

Western Gull                          209

California Gull                        5

Heerman's Gull                      1

Common Tern                       3

Caspian Tern                         4

Royal Tern                             10

Elegant Tern                          93

Forster's Tern                        1

Least Tern                              36

Black-vented Shearwater     6

Pink-footed Shearwater       11

Sooty Shearwater                  166

Black Storm-Petrel                121

Leach's Storm-Petrel             8

Ashy Storm-Petrel                 48

Scripps's Murrelet                90

Cassin's Auklet                      117

Pigeon Guillemot                   1

Barn Swallow                         3

Snowy Egret                           5

Great Blue Heron                  2

Wilson's Warbler                  2

Townsend's Warbler           1


Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports