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Whale watch pelagic birding opportunities

Whale watch pelagic birding opportunities
By – 6:25 pm
In the last few days I’ve done two whale watches out of Mission Bay, neither of which produced any whales, but it is possible to sample some of the local pelagic avian species in 2-3 hours for as little as $25. People have been doing this for years, but it may be worth repeating for those who don’t want to commit to a 12-hour trip offshore, or for those on a budget!On Thursday, Matt Sadowski and I went out with Legacy Whale Watch and although on this trip we promptly turned north upon exiting the Mission Bay channel and never got very far offshore, we did have one Common Murre and 750 or so Black-vented Shearwaters (plus a few Sooty and Pink-footed shearwaters) and Elegant Terns. This morning, Nicole Desnoyers and I went out on the Privateer with San Diego Whale Watch and went straight west for something like 13 miles, nearly hitting the very north end of the Nine Mile Bank before turning north towards the La Jolla Canyon and looping back to Mission Bay. Needless to say, the birding was better further off shore: Red-necked Phalarope 10Craveri’s Murrelet 2-5Ashy Storm-Petrel 1Black Storm-Petrel 25 (some fairly close!)Pink-footed Shearwater 25 (a raft with Common Dolphins)Sooty Shearwater 6Black-vented Shearwater 50 Brown Booby 1Hummingbird sp. 1 I’m not sure when and where these boats plan on going (Blue Whale season and trips further offshore appear best) but the experience was much better on the latter trip. Granted, these are designed for whales and dolphins, and getting the captain to turn to go inspect a distant speck isn’t possible, the good news is the feeding dolphins are often associated with terns and shearwaters which may attract other stuff like boobies. You do have to spot your own birds as well and hope the intriguing things come close to the boat!I note that the Legacy has half-off midweek trips, but you can get roughly the same deal any day via Groupon (and greater savings in 2-4 packs of tickets) for the Privateer, but there may be restrictions on times they can be used. Always worth calling to check ahead of time. Legacy:https://www.sdwhale.comPrivateer:https://sdwhalewatch.comGroupon deal for Privateer:https://www.groupon.com/deals/san-diego-whale-watch-gray-whale-season?deal_option=a273aa12-00d0-41c8-850a-a70c3466507aOf course if you want the real deal, there are four organized pelagic trips left this year that go well offshore:August 13September 11October 1October 22 (a shorter 6 hour trip)https://sandiegopelagics.comJustyn StahlNorth Park