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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...

Texas Pelagics Registration Updates

After spring migration winds down in early May and the breeding season becomes quiet in June the best birding thing to do in Texas is to take a Texas Pelagic and enjoy some fantastic offshore birds and marine wildlife. Our first Texas Pelagic is now just under 2 months away on June 4th. And there is no better way to spend a summer Saturday than offshore onboard the newly renovated Osprey with us enjoying the sea breezes far offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Fortunately a number of people have signed up recently for the June 4th trip and it’s looking good that we will be able to run this trip, but we still need some more people to sign-up. We haven’t yet heard from a large number of our regular Texas Pelagics participants. I imagine they’ve just been too busy out birding to plan too far ahead. But we need to hear from you so we aren’t short on participants for running June 4th. What does amaze and please me is that a lot of new first time pelagic birders are signing up for this summer’s Texas Pelagic adventures. I hope the word is getting out that Texas Pelagics can offer a fantastic birding and overall wildlife experience. There is really nothing else like it in Texas. It’s not just a day of birding, it is a birding adventure! Only 3 Texas Pelagics have ever been run earlier than June 4th, and only one of those was from South Padre Island. Early June is a good time for Storm-petrels. And early June has proved to be a great time for East Coast Outer Banks pelagics. Because this is the time that corresponds to a very interesting diversity of Pterodroma shearwaters in North Carolina in the “Gulf Stream” that originates from the Gulf of Mexico. Come explore this under-birded...

June 4th Pelagic Early Bird Discount extended to April 15th

To encourage more Texas Pelagic Fans and Fanatics to sign up for this trip I decided to extend our “Early Bird” discount until April 15th. You’ll save $20.00 of the regular fare by getting your registration and payment in before tax day. I’m hoping that after one or a couple of these trips are run during this early season that we will have such great success that everyone will want to go out in early June. I was so disappointed that our June 13th, 2015 trip was weathered out last year, that this year we have a weather back-up date for the June 4th trip on June 11th just to help ensure we don’t miss this early season for a whole year again. That is how strongly I and all our other leaders feel about the potential for this time of year offering some good birds to see. Last year our trip was scheduled for June 13th which was right on the heels of Petra Hockey’s Wilson’s Storm-Petrel sighting on June 11th. It was especially satisfying for me that the Wilson’s was sighted just then because I had been thinking that this was the prime time for finally seeing them in Texas Waters. They are fairly common in Louisiana off the Mississippi delta in the May to August time frame. But the Mississippi Delta and the Mississippi Canyon that extends across the shelf off the delta is the only place where Pelagic birding trips are ever run off Louisiana. So there is no data to say they don’t extend farther west towards Texas. No one ever goes birding in the deep waters of the Gulf at the right time of year off western Louisiana or Texas to be able to answer this question in my opinion. So don’t delay, sign-up today!...

June 4th Texas Pelagic wants you!

It is just over 2 months until the first scheduled Texas Pelagic of 2016 is set to sail. It’s hard to think about the long hot summer while Spring Migration is in full swing here on the Texas Coast. The June 4th trip is purposely schedule earlier in the Pelagic season than most previous Texas Pelagics have been run for a very good reason. This time period is when many rarities show up in the Pelagic waters off the East Coast. As one of our leaders John O’Brien stated ” I am particularly keen to get an early season trip in because that is the time that corresponds to a very interesting diversity of Pterodroma in North Carolina. We can always hope.” It is the height of the season off North Carolina when Brian Patterson runs daily trips for over 2 weeks straight, during what he calls his “Spring Blitz”. This trip coincides with the end of this “Spring Blitz” because we feel it offers good possibilities for real rarities in Texas; Wilson’s Strom-Petrel is most likely to be found during this time frame, like one was found by Petra Hockey on June 11, 2015. Manx Shearwater and Black-capped Petrel are a real possibility in late Spring. We need a lot more people to sign-up within the next month if we are going to be able to run this trip. I’m hoping it appeals to those who have a sense of adventure and exploration and want to take a chance on finding a real rarity for Texas in a season that has seen very little birding in true Texas Pelagic waters...

S Padre Is TEXAS PELAGICS November 2nd, 2015 Trip Report

Share The final Texas Pelagic trip of 2015 happened on Monday, November 2nd. We were very fortunate to experience very calm almost glassy seas of 2 foot to 1 foot by days end, after several weeks of very rough seas offshore . The previous two weeks included the passage of the remnants of Hurricane Patricia and the gale force winds from the cold front over the previous weekend both of which stirred up 13 foot seas. With daylight savings time over we were now departing the dock in daylight. Which afforded us the opportunity to stop at several shrimpers over the shelf which we would typically pass in darkness during the summer. Very luckily at our first shrimp boat only about 10 miles offshore Mary Gustafson spotted a Sabine’s Gull in addition to the usual contingent of hundreds of Laughing Gulls, Royal and Sandwich Terns. At first it was hard to pick out of the big gull and tern flock feeding on our chum, but eventually it flew higher than the other gulls circled the boat a few times making it easy to find. A few late Franklin’s Gulls were also spotted here. The next several shrimpers yielded only the regular gulls and terns but held large pods of pelagic Bottlenosed Dolphins. We were a bit surprised (ok disappointed) no jaegers were found during the chumming at any of the shrimpers since this tactic had worked so well earlier in the season. We found our fist cooperative Masked Booby between the third and fourth shrimpers on the shelf. The fourth shrimper had 2 Magnificent Frigatebirds resting on its rigging. They soon took off once the chum stirred the gulls into action. Watching these Magnificent birds float over the sea with their acrobatic maneuvering to steal from the gulls is quite a sight. Our first Audubon’s shearwater was spotted right...

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