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...

Black-capped Petrel Emergency Chase Trip Nov 20, 2016

Hi Texbirders and Pelagic Fans, Over this past weekend on Nov 5th while on a 48-hour tuna fishing trip Jon McIntyre photographed 2 separate Black-capped Petrels far offshore of Port Aransas. Jon initially identified these two photographed birds as Great Shearwaters in the field and didn’t realize they were Black-capped Petrels until reviewing his photographs. It is possible there were a few other BCPE’s out there that were not photographed and Jon admits he may have misidentified as Great Shearwaters as well. This very rare petrel has only been seen two other times in Texas on Pelagic trips on 5/28/1994 and 7/26/1997. These recent sightings are significant in that it may indicate some weather or food event that has brought a few of these birds at least into Texas Gulf of Mexico waters.” I have organized a Texas Pelagic trip for this Sunday Nov 20th. This will be an 18 hour trip departing from Port Aransas at 3:00 am and returning at 9:00 pm. The cost is $350 maximum / person depending on how many people sign up. It will be aboard the Kingfisher boat at Deep Sea Headquarters, the same boat we used for our 16 hour Texas Pelagic on July 23rd this past summer. With the 25 participants already signed-up the fare is $350 / person. I can lower the price if more people than that decide to come. With 27 people the fare will be $325, etc With 30 people the fare is $290. This is an incredibly exciting and unprecedented opportunity to chase an exceptionally rare seabird for Texas. An opportunity not likely to be repeated for a long time, if ever, since it’s been 20 years since the last Texas sighting of a Black-capped Petrel.  If you are interested please email, text or call me as soon as possible.  More information about preparing for...

S Padre Island; August 27, 2016 TRIP REPORT

We departed the dock at 3:00 am with no wind and enjoyed a gentle ride in 1 to 2 ft seas out to the shelf edge. Most birders slept (or tried to) wherever they could find a spot on board until first light. As the skies glowed orange than pink in anticipation of the sun we anxiously awaited our first pelagic species. Shortly after a ~7:00 am sunrise the bunch of the bow riding birders saw the green flash! From the Shelf edge out to the Camel’s head Seamount is about a 35 mile cruise, still another 3 hours in the Osprey. During this time we only had a few scattered birds, Cory’s Shearwaters, Frigatebird, Bridled Terns, Black Terns, various migrants and Atlantic Spotted and Bottlenose Dolphins. We enjoyed great weather, calm 1 to 2 foot sea swell all day long with very light winds for much of the day leaving the seas that pleasant glassy look with hardly a wind ripple all morning and early afternoon. As we neared the west slope of the Camel’s Head I spotted a very distant tern and after watching it for a bit decided there was maybe a flock of terns a couple miles south. We turned the Osprey south and into Mexican waters 2 miles towards the tern flock and the one tern turned into 10 terns, than 20, then 40, then 60! As we got closer we could also see shearwaters flying around low to the water, and the splashing of a school of tuna. Then whales started to blow and 3 Sperm Whales joined the fray. Here in Mexican waters we had a huge flock of 82 Sooty Terns, 14 Cory’s Shearwaters, 10 Audubon’s Shearwaters, 3 Sperm Whales and a tuna school. We followed these whales and flocks around for a good 45 minutes until they gradually dissipated or...

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