South Padre Island TEXAS PELAGIC July 16, 2004

Aboard the Osprey II

Subject: WBC Pelagic 16   July

Date:   Sat, 17 Jul 2004 14:52:4

From:   John Arvin

If you like multiple excellent looks at Cory’s Shearwater and Band-rumped   Storm-Petrel yesterday was definitely your kind of day. With only a decade or   so of real pelagic trips under our belt, and at an average of 1.5-2 trips per   year during that time, we really don’t know enough about the birdlife of the   offshore Gulf of Mexico to say what a “typical” Texas coast pelagic   trip is. Each trip I have done has been different, and attempts to draw   conclusions have been speculative at best. Yesterday’s trip was characterized   by large numbers of Cory’s Shearwater and Band-rumped Storm-Petrel mostly in   relatively shallow water (250+ ft). over the continental shelf. Another   salient characteristic was that most birds seen were sitting on the water in   flocks of 5 or 6 individuals up to 30 or so. This allowed for very close   approach by the boat and the resulting views were outstanding.

Why birds were (1) over the continental shelf rather than out in true pelagic   waters, and (2) mostly resting on the surface in flocks, is impossible to say   with existing knowledge. We did encounter a few other pelagic species as   singles and not so close (Masked Booby, Bridled and possibly Sooty Tern, and   Leach’s Storm-Petrel). Interestingly, preliminary examination of my photos   would seem to indicate that there was a second, unrecognized Leach’s   Storm-Petrel mixed in with 6-8 Band-rumped Storm-Petrels that continued to   visit a piece of flotsam close by the boat. In some frames I have 5 or 6   birds at once and one of these seems clearly to show the characteristics of   Leach’s Storm-Petrel though we did not recognize it at the time. This is   likely due to the fact that at that particular point there were mixed   shearwaters and storm-petrels in the number of 20-25 birds and it is pretty   easy for one individual to get lost in the crowd. Leach’s Storm-Petrel is   still on the Texas Bird Records Committee Review List (though I believe that   continuing coverage offshore will show that it is regular in small numbers   and that only the infrequency of offshore trips regulates the relatively   small number of reports annual) so I will be submitting these photos for   review by the TBRC.

There  remains one pelagic trip this season, September 24th. We call this one The   Albatross Trip because it was on last year’s September pelagic on almost the same date that we had spectacular looks at a very close Yellow-nosed Albatross. Join us for another shot at unexpected seabirds and other marine   organisms.

John   Arvin

Subject: Species List for July 16th Pelagic trip

Date:   Thu, 12 Aug 2004 08:45:47

From:   John Arvin

In  esponse to requests the complete list of bird species seen on the WBC July 16th Pelagic Trip follows below:

Pelagic Log July 16, 2004

Species: Total Number Water Depth(s)

Cory’s Shearwater 71 118-400 ft.

Band-rumped Storm-Petrel 36 138-3000 ft.

Leach’s  Storm-Petrel 1 3000 ft.

Masked Booby 1 155 ft.

Bridled Tern 1 3000 ft.

Tern  sp. (probably Bridled) 1 3000 ft.

Royal Tern 1 (in pelagic waters; many in inshore waters) 3000 ft.

Notes:  Many Black, Royal, Sandwich, and Least Terns, Laughing Gulls, and Brown Pelicans were seen inshore as we approached and entered Brazos Santiago Pass into the Laguna Madre.

Post trip examination of photos indicated that birds identified as Band-rumped Storm-Petrels were indeed all that species. What initially were thought to be characters indicating that one or more might have been additional Leach’s Storm-Petrels are attributable to molt and worn plumage.

All  Cory’s Shearwaters photographed show extensive primary molt which probably   accounts for the fact that most were resting on the water when encountered. In the absence of strong winds their molt condition would require excessive energy expenditure to remain aloft for long periods. Further indication of   this is the fact that most of the birds would fly a minimum distance when flushed and then resettle on the water.

Thanks to Brad McKinney for maintaining the sighting log through the trip.

Link to Photo Gallery: All photography copyrighted ©Garett Hodne 2004.

GOOGLE MAP OF PELAGIC TRIP GPS COURSE COORDINATES:

View 2004 Texas Pelagic Trip Tracks from SPI in a larger map

Click on the box in the upper left of the map to view the map legend.

Click on each Pelagic Course and the data label will appear with the date of the trip.

OCEANOGRAPHIC CONDITIONS for July 16, 2004

seasurface_20040716

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