S Padre Island TEXAS PELAGIC August 16, 2014 Trip Report:

Hi Pelagic Birders The second Texas Pelagic of the 2014 season got under way in the predawn Saturday with a full boat of pelagic birders. The winds and seas in the Gulf of Mexico had been very calm all week although the NOAA forecast was calling for an eventual increasing pressure gradient due to a low pressure system moving into West Texas sometime over the weekend. Well unfortunately that happened about dinner time on Friday as the winds abruptly increased to about 20 knots, and the seas rapidly went from 1-2′ to 4′. Still as we cleared the jetties the seas we still a gentle 2′ but gradually increased to about +4′ as we proceeded due east out to deep waters. Sunrise seemed especially laser bright this morning in the cloudless sky. Blue waters were reached within about 2 hours about 20 miles offshore and about 8:00am we reached our first shrimp boat. There was an unusually large swarm of Laughing Gulls, Royal Terns and Sandwich Terns visible from a good distance. But before we reached the boat an immature Masked Booby flew overhead making a bee line for the shrimpers by-catch. As we neared the boat a male Magnificent Frigatebird was spotted perched on the rigging. Soon another 2 adult Masked Boobies were seen and they made several close overhead passes as they circled our boat. A possible shearwater was spotted in the distance among a large flock of Laughing Gulls resting on the water a couple hundred yards from the shrimper but we could never refind it. A pod of a dozen or so Pelagic Bottlenose Dolphins came over from the shrimper to investigate our boat and showing off for us with some big leaps into the air. Not long after leaving the shrimper another Masked Booby and frigatebird were seen. Then out of the intense sun...

S Padre Island TEXAS PELAGIC- July 19, 2014 Trip Report

Hi Pelagic Birders, After stressing out all week about the weather forecasts for 5-7′ or greater seas for Saturday, there was no wind at all as our group of 27 pelagic birders and leaders gathered in the pre-dawn at the Osprey dock. The nearest offshore NOAA Wave Buoy 42020 was reporting in only 2.5 ‘ seas. So this time we lucked out with the weather. As we cleared the South Padre Island Jetties in the pre-dawn twilight the seas were barely 2 ft, the skies were partly cloudy and some sea haze and light fog limited visibility to less then a mile. At 9:30am the air had cleared and we recorded our first sea bird, a Band-rumped Storm Petrel which flew across the bow about 75 yards out but didn’t stop. As we reached the edge of the continental shelf an Audubon’s Shearwater was spotted to the starboard by Kelly Smith one of our sharp eyed participants. It made a brief fly-by that was too quick for everybody to see. Thirty minutes later Kelly spotted another shearwater, presumably an Audubon’s, but it was seen by only a few. A few unidentified passerines migrating over the Gulf were seen along with 2 night-herons and an egret. Later in the day a Purple Martin and a Baltimore Oriole flew by. As we sailed on towards 2,000 ft of water depth we decided to set out a first chum slick and then another and return to the slick area in 30-60 minutes on the way back in to see what they may have attracted. The second slick which we returned to first had no birds. We reached the first slick a short cruise away and found 4 Band-rumped Storm Petrels circling the area. This time everyone was able to get long and extended views. We left the slicks and cruised back towards...

S Padre Island TEXAS PELAGIC – Sept 28, 2013 Trip Report

From: Brad McKinney Date: Sun, 29 Sep 2013 19:24:26 GMT Trip report for South Padre Island pelagic, 28 September 2013 Challenging weather conditions, including choppy 4-6 foot seas and 20+ kt. winds, made a slow and rough journey out to deepwater. Due to recent storm activity in the Gulf of Mexico, there were few shrimp boats, and the few we came across held few birds, although we did have nice looks at Common Tern amongst the many Royal Terns on the way out. Unfavorable currents in the latter part of September pushed the blue oceanic waters well offshore, which we didn’t reach until 11:35 am when we were already on the 100-fathom curve. Despite all of this, we had a great group of birders and tireless leaders who pulled together to make this trip a good one. By the end of the day we managed a hard-earned five seabird species, including Cory’s (3) and Audubon’s Shearwaters, Bridled Tern (2) Masked Booby and two unidentified jaegers. A brief recap: At 7:45 am, we had a distant jaeger harassing a Royal Tern at the stern. With our prime objective being to get out to deepwater, we chose not to chase this bird but to continue east. A distant Magnificent Frigatebird was also seen early on, along with several groups of bottlenose dolphins. At 8:38 am we had our first Cory’s Shearwater gliding swiftly over the shallow continental shelf waters. Analysis of photos may determine the race of this bird as Mediterranean or Atlantic Cory’s. The vast majority of the Cory’s Shearwaters seen in summer and fall in the western Gulf of Mexico breed on several islands in the Mediterranean Sea and are sometimes referred to as Scolopi’s Shearwater. The link below is of the second Cory’s Shearwater, a Mediterranean Cory’s, seen just off the 100-fathom curve about 50 miles out. Close...