South Padre Island TEXAS PELAGIC Nov 15, 2009

Aboard the Osprey II 

Subject: South Padre Island Pelagic Report November 15, 2009 

Date: Tue, 24 Nov 2009 From: Mary Gustafson

Once again the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival hosted a pelagic trip on the  Osprey II out of South Padre Island. Seas were churned up leaving the harbor after an early morning thunderstorm moved through, and they never calmed down   all day.

Photos  are greatly desired, please send photos to Gary Hodne for the Texas Pelagics website. Gary can be reached at garyhodne@earthlink.net

The day started with a Magnificent Frigatebird that flew by the stern giving us   good if not long looks at the only Frigatebird of the day. Franklin’s Gulls   were mixed in with the Laughing Gull flocks on the way out. We spent some   time at a shrimp boat about 20 miles out and saw a Parasitic Jaeger beating   up on the Laughing Gulls. We glimpsed another unidentified distant jaeger as   well.

Oddly three Redhead fly by us before we got to the next shrimp boat, no idea what   they were doing so far offshore. A huge adult Green Sea Turtle caused us to   turn the boat around for a better look. The turtle was amazingly confiding and easy to spot in the rough seas (over 6 foot by now). It would be great to see some photographs of this huge turtle to double-check the at sea identification!

The second shrimp boat had another Parasitic Jaeger harassing the gulls. An unidentified Sulid (probably Masked Booby) was spotted in flight by a very few people but not identified. There were many sharks under the shrimp boat, mostly small black-tipped sharks but some other species.

About 40 miles out we came to a third shrimp boat with some Sandwich and Common Terns in attendance as well as the expected Bottlenose Dolphins. Now in 8   foot seas that were making birding difficult and in waters nearly too deep   for the shrimpers, we turned around and headed in. We were able to relocated   the Green Sea Turtle, still loafing near the same shrimp boat. A Northern  Gannet flew by and was seen by 2 birders.

Red tide has been a problem in the South Padre Island area for several weeks. The red tide in the nearshore waters seemed to really limit the bird activity. I  had hoped we could sort through flocks of gulls and terns on the way in, but   the very limited numbers of birds had us back to the dock early.

Those in the vans from the RGVBF were treated to a pair of Aplomado Falcons perched  on telephone poles along US 100 on the return trip to the Harlingen Convention Center.

Thanks   to all the leaders and spotters on this trip, Gavin Bieber, Eric Carpenter, Cameron Cox, Jon Dunn, Richard Gibbons, and Brad McKinney, and the great folks from the Osprey for their hard work on this and all the other pelagics.

Mary Gustafson Mission, Texas

Seabirds   Seen:

Magnificent Frigatebird

Parasitic Jaeger

Unid sulid SP (Masked Booby?)

Northern Gannet

Link to Photo Gallery #1: All photography copyrighted ©Garett Hodne 2009.

Link to Photo Gallery #2: All photography copyrighted ©Richard Gibbons 2009

OCEANOGRAPHIC CONDITIONS:

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