S Padre Island TEXAS PELAGIC July 27, 2013 Trip Report

From: Brad McKinney Date: Sun, 28 Jul 2013 23:03:34 GMT Good afternoon, Yesterday morning, 32 adventurous birders headed out to  deepwater off South Padre island in search of seabirds and other marine life.  With a steady south wind and seas running about 3-4 feet we watched coastal terns (Royal, Sandwich, Black, and Least) feeding in the sargassum laden waters on the way out. We saw the first of several Masked Boobies at 9:00 am flying fast across the bow. An hour later we were in oceanic blue waters with flying fish everywhere. At 10:20 am, we had two more Masked Boobies, including another  adult bird. The pair made three close passes by the boat providing fantastic  looks. We reached the deepwater curve shortly after 11:00 am and immediately had a Cory’s Shearwater, which stayed 100 yards in front of the boat for a couple of minutes before disappearing from view. Unfortunately this would be  the only shearwater of the day. (In the western Gulf of Mexico, Shearwater numbers peak in September).  Just minutes after the shearwater, we saw our  first Band-rumped Storm-Petrel gliding low over the swells. At 60 miles out, we  began a fish oil drip and continued heading due east toward the Colt 45 reef. After retracing our fish oil path we came across several Band-rumped  Storm-Petrels, three of which were very cooperative, providing extended looks at close range. By early afternoon, we came across three more Masked Boobies,  with one adult bird resting calmly just 50 feet from the boat. The booby made  two close passes by the boat before soaring away. On the way back in birders were treated to bow-riding pelagic bottlenose and Atlantic spotted dolphins. One of the spotted dolphins was a real show off- bow riding upside down for  20-30 second stretches just inches underneath another bow-riding dolphin.  Around 3:00 pm, the...

S Padre Island TEXAS PELAGIC August 25, 2012 Trip Report

SPI pelagic results 25 August 2012  From: Brad McKinney  Date: Sun, 26 Aug 2012 19:54:14 GMT Good afternoon,  The season’s final lower coast pelagic off South Padre Island was a success, as trip organizer Eric Carpenter pulled off another squeeze play with Mother Nature. With projected seas in the 4-6 range all week, the wind dropped enough on Friday evening to produce manageable swells in the 2-4 foot range for most of the day on Saturday. By 8:15 am, we swung by the first of several several shrimp boats on the way out to deepwater and were rewarded with excellent looks at both male Magnificent Frigatebird and juvenile Masked Booby (see link below). In addition to the frigatebird, the near shore shrimp boats attracted Laughing Gulls, Royal and Sandwich Terns and at least 35 bottlenose dolphins, including several youngsters. Common, Least and Black Terns were seen sporadically in the blue water along the shelf. As we approached the final shrimp boat at 45 miles offshore, we had two jaeger sp., another Magnificent Frigatebird, and a flyby Northern Roughwing Swallow, surprisingly one of the only migrant passerines seen during the day. We reached the 100-fathom curve around noon, somewhat delayed by the rough seas. Just after 1:00pm we had our first shearwater of the day, a Cory’s.  By 1:30 pm we had good looks two more Cory’s Shearwaters, a dozen Sooty Terns over a tuna school, including two all-black juveniles, and two Audubon’s Shearwaters. Flying fish were seen throughout. Other interesting finds included a green sea turtle , a young wahoo fish and a five-foot cobia fish.  The species list in this summary is not presumed to be all inclusive or official, as some observers may have observed things that I did not. Please let me know of any omissions or revisions. Seabird summary: Cory’s Shearwater (3) Audubon’s Shearwater (2)...

S Padre Island TEXAS PELAGIC July 28, 2012 Trip Report

July 28th Pelagic Trip out of South Padre Island From: Eric Carpenter Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2012 21:59:47 -0500 After several days of strong winds and an uneasy sea, I was pleased to see both calm down in time for our first pelagic trip of the summer. Yesterday’s (28 July) trip would turn out to be one of the calmest we’ve done in recent years with only light winds and gentle swells to contend with.  Just over an hour into the trip, a few folks had glimpses of 2 fly-by juv. Sooty Terns, which would serve as an indicator of how much of our day would go – not a lot of what we saw allowed for extended looks.  The exception to that was 2 of the most cooperative Cory’s Shearwaters we’ve had that were still in shallow water just shy of 3 hours offshore.  These birds loafed on the water allowing everyone on board great looks. The highlight of the day would occur just before noon once we got into deep water (~1100 feet depth).  Somewhat distant looks at 2 Bridled and 1 Sooty Tern and a couple of Band-rumped Storm-Petrels would play second-fiddle to other sea life.  A Green Sea Turtle was seen rather close to the boat but the star of the day would be the pod of Short-finned Pilot Whales.  As many as 21 of these marvelous creatures would allow for rather close approach and extended looks.  They were certainly a “lifer” for many on board and only one of a few sightings we’ve had of these species during our pelagic trips in recent years. Some video of these guys can be found at: http://youtu.be/iUiht2921zs As we continued on, we would run into a few more storm-petrels, and eventually most everyone got decent looks at a couple of Band-rumpeds though more than a handful of...

S Padre Island TEXAS PELAGIC August 27, 2011 Trip Report

Aboard the Osprey Subject: Recap of Saturday’s South Padre Island Pelagic Trip August 27, 2011  Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2011 22:49:15 GMT From: Brad McKinney Subject SPI pelagic summary 27 August 2011 Good afternoon, Saturday’s pelagic off South Padre was exceptional on all counts. The seas were calm, the wind was light, and seabird activity was consistent during most of our   time in deepwater. With such calm conditions, we were able to reach the deepwater 100-fathom curve, about 45 miles out, just after 10:00 am. Blue   water began only seven miles out with the deep cobalt blue water only 20   miles offshore. Lots of flying fish were seen throughout the day. There was   only minimal birding activity on the anchored shrimp boats on the way out,   mostly Royal, Sandwich, and Common Terns, in that order of abundance. We had numerous Black Terns during the first two hours of the trip and a smattering   of migrating waders and ducks. We had our first seabird, a Masked Booby, at   10:30 am and spent the next three and a half hours working the tidewater lines around 70 miles out where we encountered several tuna schools. At about   10:40 am, we had decent looks at a lone Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, which made one long pass along the boat before soaring out of sight. After good looks at   a Bridled Tern, we encountered a rare pod of 40 Rough-toothed Dolphins, a first sighting of this cetacean on Texas pelagic trips. For the next 15-20   minutes, the captain made a slow circle and the dolphins treated us to a playful bow-riding spectacle. It took four Bridled Terns to pry us away from   the dolphins. While sitting on debris, a couple of Bridled Terns allowed the   boat to approach quite closely providing excellent views. By 11:30 am we found the first of several fish...

S Padre Island TEXAS PELAGIC July 16, 2011 Trip Report

Aboard   the Osprey II Subject: Recap of Saturday’s South Padre Island Pelagic Trip July 16, 2011 On behalf of Tamie, the South Padre Island Birding & Nature Center, and my fellow leaders (Mary, Petra, Randy, and Brad), I wanted to thank all of you   for coming out on Saturday for the first Texas pelagic trip of 2011. Though I was disappointed in the number of pelagic species & individuals we encountered, these trips are always about quality, not quantity. The Red-billed Tropicbird that we encountered as it flew over the boat a few times is a great find and a new bird (in Texas or the ABA area) for many on board. Texas has only 12 documented records of this species and the last time we had this species on one of our trips was almost 5 years ago (Sept 2006). There is no verdict yet on the storm-petrel that we had briefly mid-morning as it flew in front of us and into the sun. The flight pattern and perhaps to some   degree the amount of molt the bird was showing suggest Leach’s Storm-Petrel. I am hoping that a few of you got some pictures that you will be able to   share with us to see if we have enough to get an ID on this guy. The Pomarine Jaeger that we encountered was also a bit surprising. They are regular and more expected later in the fall and through the winter season, very few are encountered mid-summer. We suspect that this was likely a one-year old bird that may be summering in the Gulf. Though we see Magnificent Frigatebirds on most trips, I don’t think we have ever had 4 in one place before. The Spotted Dolphins were also a nice sighting. We don’t often see such a large group of them, and this one had a couple of yougins to boot! Gary Hodne maintains a website that serves as a good...

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