S Padre Island TEXAS PELAGICS – Sept 19, 2015 Trip Report

Share After seeing 8 foot seas recorded by NOAA Buoy 42020 on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning it was a relief to see a forecast for only 2 to 3 foot seas for Saturday. And following such a phenomenal trip three weeks ago everyone at the dock was hoping for a repeat performance today. With an early 5:30 am start we sailed a good hour in pitch blackness. In the dark the seas seemed rougher than 3 feet and were probably more in the 4 foot range with the occasional 5 foot swell. A brief sprinkle of rain right at first light awakened those trying to sleep out on the open upper deck. Luckily for us as within a minute or two our just awakened sharp-eyed leader Kelly Smith spotted our first seabird the only Cory’s Shearwater of the day before sunrise. It was very close to the boat and passed right in front of the bow just feet away to the delight of the bow crowd. After a beautiful sunrise the seas were calming down some and by 8 am were more in the 3 foot range and would continue to calm down throughout the day. It wasn’t long before we had our first 2 Audubon’s Shearwaters. We would continue to see single Audubon’s Shearwaters at regular intervals up until 2pm. A distant Masked Booby seemed uninterested in coming over to investigate us like Boobies usually do. Looking at Dwight Peak’s photos of the distant bird at maximum zoom we wondered if it may have been an immature Northern Gannet? (Awaiting photo confirmation of that.) A flock of our first 6 Bridled Terns signaled our arrival in deep pelagic waters over 600 ft. As we passed the shelf-slope break at 9:00am I announced for everyone to be on the lookout for whale blows. Shortly thereafter as if on...

S Padre Island TEXAS PELAGICS August 29, 2015 Trip Report

Share Leach’s Storm Petrel Bonanza Sets New Record for Highest Number Ever Seen in Texas. Hi Seabirders, The end of August is a great time for a Texas Pelagic trip and when the weather cooperates, like it did this day, I just know good things can happen. We had to adjust the trip times and shorten it by 2 hours due to Osprey’s owners concerns about maintenance issues. So we wouldn’t be able to reach the hoped for objective of the Camel’s Head. Never-the-less with 14 hours we would have a lot of time in ultra-deep pelagic waters and would make it out to 3,000 ft waters depth. As of 4:00am Buoy 42020 was reading about 2 foot seas and the forecast was for 2-3 ft seas for the day. It would never get over 2 foot seas for the day. As we cleared the S Padre Island jetties in the full moonlit night you could hardly tell we had reached the open Gulf by the wave action. But gradually the 2 foot seas lulled a number of tired birders to sleep at various nooks all over the rubberized deck. As the first hints of a lightening sky appeared birders began to ready themselves for the day ahead. We were treated to a beautiful moonset and about 30 minutes later a beautiful sunrise. Shortly after sunrise the first birds of the day Royal Terns flew by then like a fighter plane in hot pursuit a Pomarine Jaeger harassed them off into the distance. The next bit of excitement would come in the form of 6 Atlantic Spotted Dolphins that caught up with the boat for a brief bow joy ride. We reached the shelf edge drop-off around 9:00am and as soon as we did things really started to happen. Our first group of 4 Storm-Petrels all were Leach’s. A...