South Padre Island TEXAS PELAGIC August 29, 2009

Aboard   the Osprey II

Subject: South Padre Island pelagic 29 Aug 09,

Date:   Sun, 30 Aug 2009 04:16:53 GMT

From:   Brad McKinney

Good   evening,

Today’s South Padre Island pelagic was a great one. The seas were calm, the birds were numerous and varied, and the marine mammals were spectacular. In all eight seabird species were seen, including two Leach’s Storm-Petrels.

A weak front pushed through in the early morning hours providing relatively cool   temperatures as we left the dock. Less than an hour from the dock we had   fleeting looks at a storm-petrel in the dim light before sunrise. As we   headed out to deepwater water, we were challenged with nearly non-stop migrant activity including small waterfowl flocks, larger numbers of herons   and egrets, and a variety of small landbirds including Yellow Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Dickcissel, and Baltimore Oriole. By the end of the   day, the several hundred migrants were the most that any of us had seen on a Texas pelagic.

The few shrimp boats that we encountered produced the expected Royal, Sandwich and Common (2) Terns. As we approached one of these shrimp boats, we were   greeted by a large pod of Atlantic Spotted Dolphins, which included several newborn calves (complete with birth wrinkles!). Not long after the jumping   dolphin spectacle we began seeing flying fish and the first Cory’s Shearwater of the day. Once we reached deepwater we had great looks at Masked Booby, Audubon’s and Cory’s Shearwaters, and Band-rumped Storm-Petrel. It wasn’t long before we had a cooperative pair of Leach’s Storm-Petrels pass close by   the boat.

By noon we watched large numbers of Bridled and Sooty Terns working tuna schools. Shortly thereafter the angled spout of a Sperm Whale broke the calm surface waters, the first of seven Sperm Whales that we would see in the next hour. Two of the whales gracefully raised their tail flukes before making   their grand exit to depths of the Gulf of Mexico. By the time we saw the last seabird of the day, a Masked Booby just 3 miles from the dock, we realized that this was an amazing day.

Short list of seabirds:

Cory’s Shearwater (6)

Audubon’s Shearwater (7)

Leach’s Storm-Petrel (2)

Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (3)

Storm-Petrel   sp. (1)

Masked Booby (4)

Magnificent Frigatebird (1)

Sooty Tern (75)

Bridled Tern (30)

Thank go out to Cate Ball for organizing the trip and to leaders Eric Carpenter, Mary Gustafson, Petra Hockey, and Dwight Peake for great job.

There’s still room on the September 19 pelagic. Reservations: 956-243-8179 option #3.

Brad McKinney

Rancho  Viejo

Link to Photo Gallery: All photography copyrighted ©Garett Hodne 2009.

Link to Photo Gallery #2: Copyrighted © by other contributors as noted.

Thanks to Brad McKinney, John O’Brien and Lynn Barber for contributing many great photos!


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