S Padre Island TEXAS PELAGIC July 27, 2013 Trip Report

From: Brad McKinney

Date: Sun, 28 Jul 2013 23:03:34 GMT

Good afternoon, Yesterday morning, 32 adventurous birders headed out to  deepwater off South Padre island in search of seabirds and other marine life.  With a steady south wind and seas running about 3-4 feet we watched coastal terns (Royal, Sandwich, Black, and Least) feeding in the sargassum laden waters on the way out. We saw the first of several Masked Boobies at 9:00 am flying fast across the bow. An hour later we were in oceanic blue waters with flying fish everywhere. At 10:20 am, we had two more Masked Boobies, including another  adult bird. The pair made three close passes by the boat providing fantastic  looks.

We reached the deepwater curve shortly after 11:00 am and immediately had a Cory’s Shearwater, which stayed 100 yards in front of the boat for a couple of minutes before disappearing from view. Unfortunately this would be  the only shearwater of the day. (In the western Gulf of Mexico, Shearwater numbers peak in September).  Just minutes after the shearwater, we saw our  first Band-rumped Storm-Petrel gliding low over the swells. At 60 miles out, we  began a fish oil drip and continued heading due east toward the Colt 45 reef. After retracing our fish oil path we came across several Band-rumped  Storm-Petrels, three of which were very cooperative, providing extended looks at close range. By early afternoon, we came across three more Masked Boobies,  with one adult bird resting calmly just 50 feet from the boat. The booby made  two close passes by the boat before soaring away.

On the way back in birders were treated to bow-riding pelagic bottlenose and Atlantic spotted dolphins. One of the spotted dolphins was a real show off- bow riding upside down for  20-30 second stretches just inches underneath another bow-riding dolphin.  Around 3:00 pm, the captain and crew spotted a large blue marlin lounging near  the surface. As we passed by several shrimp boats, a sharp-eyed birder spotted  a distant Magnificent Frigatebird, bringing our seabird count to four species.

We came across our last Masked Booby about 20 miles out, capping off a fine day  on the open gulf. Although the number of seabird species was lower than what we’d hoped for, none of the leaders could ever recall having such wonderful looks at Band-rumped Storm-Petrels and Masked Boobies.

On behalf of all the trip leaders thanks to all for supporting Texas pelagic trips, and we hope to see many of you on future trips. Special thanks to Eric Carpenter for  organizing another great trip. Thanks to trip leaders Eric Carpenter, Mary Gustafson, John O’Brien, and Randy Pinkston for a job well done.


The following is a list of seabird species:

Cory’s Shearwater  (1)

Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (9-12) At least nine individuals, possibly as many as 12.

Masked Booby (5-8) At least five individuals, possibly as many as eight.

Magnificent Frigatebird (1)

Below is a link to a few photos of Masked Booby and Band-rumped Storm-Petrel.

For information on Texas seabirding, please check out Gary Hodne’s website:  www.texaspelagics.com

Good seabirding!

Brad McKinney, Rancho Viejo


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