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Trip #398 South Polar Skua

8:12 pm

Went out today, hoping to refind the Laysan albatross seen yesterday, and because the weather—medium-elevation cloud cover, front from the south bringing up moisture and heat, etc.—was perfect for frigatebirds. Didn’t see either of those.

The boat headed south for 5 miles or so, then turned west and went to the 9-Mile Bank. Motored up the 9-Mile Bank until just south of Pt. Loma, and then headed back in.

On the 13 or so miles long trip out to the Bank, we saw the following seabirds:
Black-vented shearwaters 0
Other shearwaters 0
Alcids 0
Jaegers 0
Phalaropes 0
Misc. Pelagic Birds 0

The Bank was much better, but bird numbers are still very low.
Black-vented Shearwater: 1
Sooty Shearwater: 10
Pink-footed Shearwater: 1
Black Storm-Petrel: 122
Ashy Storm-Petrel: 3
Scripps’ Murrelet: 2
Cassin’s Auklet: 1
Pomarine Jaeger: 1
South Polar Skua: 1 (an immature) Haven’t seen a skua since before the pandemic; I had forgotten just how distinctive, striking and beautifully-colored [that is one stone-cold brownish-gray] they are. And how relentless their flight is.
Red-necked Phalarope: 23

Once we were returning and came off the east edge of the Bank, we were again in bird-free waters. We saw the following seabirds:
Black-vented shearwaters 0
Other shearwaters 0
Alcids 0
Jaegers 0
Phalaropes 0
Misc. Pelagic Birds 0

I’m pretty sure that the birds we didn’t see on the way back were the same individuals that we didn’t see on the way out. So I’m not going to count them twice.

Stan Walens, San Diego
July 23, 2023; 8:00 pm