PORT O’CONNOR PELAGIC September 20, 1997

Aboard   the Chip XI
Subject: Sept. 20 Port   ‘Connor ResultsDate:   Sun, 21 Sep 1997 15:00:30 -0500

From:   Russell Graham

No   weedlines, no large sargassum mats and only 1 feeding-frenzy school of fish   (which is where the only flock of Sooty Terns was located) hampered our trip   but we ended on a high note! Unless noted otherwise, the numbers below are   the unofficial maximum number (seen at one time by myself) for each species.

* =   TBRC Review Species

Cory’s   Shearwater 1

*   Audubon’s Shearwater 14

*   Band-rumped Storm-Petrel 3 Magnificent Frigatebird 3

Masked   Booby 1 (total of 2)

*   SABINE’S GULL 1 (see note below)

Black   Tern 30

*   Bridled Tern 3

Sooty   Tern 32

Other non-pelagic birds:

Blue-winged   Teal 7

Barn   Swallow 1

Mammals:

Atlantic   Spotted Dolphin 5

Bottle-nosed   Dolphin 2

Short-finned   Pilot Whale 40 (bow -riding!)

Note:   Juvenile Sabine’s Gull (first spotted by Dwight Peake and seen by all) among   a feeding-flock of Black Terns with only about 30 minutes of daylight left. I   believe this is only the second pelagic record for Texas (the first being 25   Oct 1964 off Galveston). What a great way to end the trip!

Congrats   to Petra on her “lifer” Sabine’s Gull. (We’re both having pelagic   withdrawals already!)

Russell   Graham

Dallas,   Texas

Subject: Sabine’s Gull

Date:   Sun, 21 Sep 1997 22:55:53

From:   Russell Graham

There   is some controversy regarding the age of the bird seen on Saturday’s pelagic.   Several people on the trip apparently believe the bird was a basic-plumaged   adult. In my original post of the results of Saturday’s trip, I called the   bird a juvenile. I now believe that both IDs are wrong.

When   Dwight first spotted the bird, he ID’d it as an immature. {Unfortunately, his   e-mail is not working right now and he can not comment electronically.} When   I got on the bird, I was immediately struck by its bi-colored bill and an   extensive black hood (along with the diagnostic wing pattern). My first   thought was an adult molting into basic plumage. Then I noticed the black   band on the tail (a field mark of a juvenile bird). After consulting several   reference books, I think the bird was a 1st summer (2nd calendar year) bird.   This is the only explanation that I can think of that fits the field marks   and the timing of molt in Sabine’s Gulls. The only thing rarer than an adult   Sabine’s Gull in Texas would be a basic-plumaged bird. Most, if not all, adults   molt after leaving North America. Incidentally, I have been on numerous   pelagics off California and have seen thousands of Sabine’s Gulls over the   years but I have never seen a basic-plumaged adult.

Here’s   my description in a nutshell:

Black   bill with yellow tip. Incomplete hood (much more extensive than the dark nape   of a basic-plumaged adult). “Wing wedge” and back were not concolor   gray as would be expected for an eclipse adult. The “wing wedge”   was brownish and the back was gray. Tail had a dark band.

Any   thoughts?

Russell   Graham

Dallas,   Texas

OCEANOGRAPHIC CONDITIONS for Sept. 20, 1997

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