S. Padre Is Sept 22, 2018 TRIP REPORT

I was obsessively watching the marine weather forecast in the week leading up to this past Saturday’s TX Pelagic from South Padre Island and NOAA had been consistently forecasting 2 to 4 foot seas for Thursday through Saturday. A frontal system in West Texas wouldn’t be reaching the Gulf Coast until early next week, but by Wednesday the winds and seas started increasing from 1 foot to 4+ feet ahead of the front. So on Friday as I (and everyone else) was preparing to leave for the 400 mile drive to S. Padre Island I was happily surprised to see that Friday morning’s 4:00 AM marine forecast for Saturday was revised and now predicted seas of 2 feet or less! Someone on the night shift at NOAA thought the front had stalled to the west. Well that marine weather forecast turned out to be a “False Alarm”. On Saturday at 4:30 AM as 47 seabirders gathered at the Osprey dock we were looking at seas that would start out in the 4 foot + range. Anything over 5 feet and we usually wouldn’t run trips. It was forecast to calm down by midday however so we went ahead. Similar to the last trip from Port Aransas for about one third of the participants this would be their first Pelagic experience, I always hope they aren’t disappointed.  Seabird activity started early soon after sunrise with 4 Magnificent Frigatebirds and a Parasitic Jaeger at the first and only shrimp boat we visited on the way out. The morning’s activity continued with a lone Cory’s Shearwater and then a Masked Booby that circled the boat a few times to see if we were at all interesting giving everyone great views and photo ops. A few singles and a pair of Audubon’s Shearwaters gave decent views. A Brown Booby came in to investigate us allowing...

Port Aransas Aug 31, 2018; TRIP REPORT

On Friday August 31 we ran our third Port Aransas Texas Pelagic aboard the Kingfisher party boat from Deep Sea HQ. This was also our first Texas Pelagic in almost 2 years since no trips in 2017 managed to get enough participants to run. So it was satisfying to have a ‘GREAT’ day for seabirds. Not only was the weather about perfect with only 2 ft seas early in the day ‘calming down’ to 1 foot seas by the afternoon, but the seabirds put on a great show. A Brown Booby at 7:30 AM was almost the first bird we saw and it followed the boat for about 30 minutes. The booby was foraging for flying fish that the boat scattered from its path. It made numerous chases and dives after many flying fish narrowly missing its prey many times before it finally managed to snag a few flying fish meals. It was exciting to watch this action at close range. The booby was often so close pacing with the boats speed that people could get selfies with the booby from their smart phones. At one point another Brown Booby or two approached the stern to investigate us but didn’t hang around long. I guess the booby had finally had its fill of flying fish and eventually flew off. As usual we saw a large number of flyingfish. There are a few different species in the Gulf but frankly I never try to identify the species. Maybe a few of the seabirders who spent some time photographing them can work on identifying the species in their photographs. However I did see one flying fish I’ve never seen before it was a small “Sargassum Flyingfish” and is was orange as the Sargasso we often see. Well after a bit of searching I discovered this is actually the juvenile stage and...

June 2018 Texas Pelagic Update

Hi Seabirders, It’s been a good couple of weeks for sign-ups for the two upcoming 2018 Texas Pelagic trips. 1. The August 31st trip from Port Aransas is now FULL and I am beginning to accumulate a waiting list that so far has 5 people on it with a few more “checks in the mail” on the way. 2. The September 22nd trip from South Padre Island still has a 16 spaces available with a few more checks in the mail. It’s impossible for me to predict how long the spaces will last but if I were you and you’re thinking about signing up I wouldn’t procrastinate too much longer. I filled the last 25 spaces on the August 31st trip in just the last 10 days, TRUE FACT! I am going to be out of the country beginning July 4th so I won’t get all my accumulated registration mail until I return at the end of July. So If you’ve mailed in your forms please hang on for your confirmation until I return. Folks will be registered in the order of the postmarked dates on their envelopes. It is gratifying to me to see that my trips this year have attracted a large number of first time Pelagic birders. There is no better place to try out a pelagic trip than in your home state to see how much it appeals to you. Many or maybe most of the birders who do their first pelagic in Texas go on to seek out pelagic birding trips across the nation or even the world. Once you get the bug for Pelagic birding it can become an obsession, like it has for me, and many other Texas birders. Here is a link to the 2018 schedule  The sign up link and info is on that...

2018 Texas Pelagics Status Update

Hi Seabirders, I’ve had a lot of people sign up in the last couple weeks for our two trips later this summer which is great! But I’m still only about half-way to the minimum needed for the Aug 31st Texas Pelagic out of Port Aransas. Port Aransas hasn’t had very many Texas Pelagics run from here because it is so popular with fisherman many of the charter boats are reluctant to or refuse to charter to pelagic birders for fear of losing fishing customers. The fewer than 5 Pelagic trips run from Port Aransas have all been outstanding. Well except for a late November 2016 trip to chase Black-capped Petrels, but that was a long-shot trip and outside of the traditionally good times for seabirds in offshore Texas. In the past many birders have tried tagging along on fishing trips from Port A to see what pelagic seabirds they might find with mixed results. Fishing trips either don’t get to deep pelagic waters, or spend a lot of time in one place fishing so they are far from optimal for pelagic birding. However a friend of mine who is a birder and a charter fishing boat captain from Port Aransas regularly spots amazing seabirds offshore on tuna fishing trips. This year he’s already reported numerous Brown Boobies and a Brown Noddy, in addition to the regularly expected seabirds From a quick look at the deep sea topography nearest to Port Aransas I can understand why it’s so good for fishing. There are numerous seamounts cored by salt domes on the continental slope here and these huge structures can create deep water upwelling’s that bring food to the surface for fish and of course seabirds. During the 1990’s when Texas Pelagics were being run from Port O’Connor many of these trips covered an area that overlaps with the waters reached...

Texas Pelagics 2017 Schedule Update.

Hi  Pelagic Fanatics, Registrations for this year’s Texas Pelagics trips have been very slow so far this year.  I guess I need to do a lot more reminding our seabirding enthusiasts that the time is at hand to make your plans for this summer’s Texas Pelagics trips. At this point we are however far too undersubscribed to be able to run the July 22nd Texas Pelagic that was planned from Port Aransas, so this trip has been cancelled. I have also decided to make the August 26th trip from South Padre Island a 12 hour trip instead of a 16 hour adventure. The updated schedule can be found here: http://texaspelagics.com/2017-schedule/  WHY GO ON A TEXAS PELAGIC? Short answer – they are a lot of FUN!! If you talk to any of the Texas Pelagic leaders and regulars they’ll probably tell you some of the most amazing bird and wildlife encounters they’ve ever had in the state of Texas occurred on a Texas Pelagic.  Our experiences from 2015 and 2016 indicate that with more frequent coverage by pelagic trips we are much more likely to have a few exceptional Pelagic birding days in the season. This is probably due improving our odds of hitting favorable current, wind and sea conditions for seabirds that occur every so often in the deep Gulf off South Padre.   If you’ve never been on a Texas Pelagic this is the year you should try one or two. If it’s been a long time since you’ve been on a Texas Pelagic come back this year and see how much fun they can be. If you’re afraid of seasickness try using the Transderm Scop patch (prescription needed) and enjoy a day at sea with our great pelagic leaders and groups. These trips are also a great way to spend a hot summer weekend out birding where it...

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