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 Texas Pelagics can be found on my website.
Good seabirding,
Gary Hodne

Ps. FYI- There has been a lot of discussion about these sighting and our upcoming chase trip on the Texas Pelagics Facebook group’s page. I’ve included a few quotes from those posts at the end of this email here in case you missed it or are not on Facebook!

Jon McIntyre: “I had 5 birds this trip (I only photographed 2) that I called Great Shearwaters because of the dark cap and white rump- the two I photographed turned out to be BC Petrels. We had a 48-hr trip on Wed and I saw 2 birds that I called Great Shearwaters but no photos. I had one bird last Saturday on a 48hr I also called a Great Shearwater with no photos. Sure makes me wonder what they really were!”

Jon McIntyre: “An outstanding 48hr fishing trip aboard the “Pelican” this weekend. In addition to the Black-Capped Petrels I found we saw 10 Cory’s Shearwaters, 3 Masked Booby, 1 Brown Booby, 1 Audubon’s Shearwater, 2 Pomarine Jaegers, a Sperm Whale, a Loggerhead Sea Turtle, a 632 pound Shortfin Mako Shark, Blue Marlin, and more! Sorry for the poor quality of pics- they were taken through a dirty window!”

Todd McGrath: “I get that $300 is a lot, and there are no guarantees, but you could spend many thousands going on lots of trips that will never see BCPE in Texas. Since there have been multiple sightings, I think there is a good chance. I remember a year back in NC with Brian Patteson when European Storm-Petrels were being seen almost every trip. Lots of folks who could have come didn’t, and many of them still need the bird, as they haven’t been seen in those numbers since, just one or two or so per season. I might also add that the chances of seeing BCPE in Texas on the 13th are infinitely better than the chances of seeing one sitting on your couch.”

Gary Hodne” A few people have asked what other birds can be seen at this season offshore Texas. Short answer is I’m not sure because there haven’t been any true Texas Pelagics at this time of year, aside from the tuna fisherman. And without them and thanks to Jon McIntyre we wouldn’t have known about the BCPE’s . But certainly all the Jaegers are most common in the winter. Masked Boobies are apparently still around. Cory’s (Scopoli’s) Shearwaters could be present? Probably too late for Audubon’s, but Manx is a possibility. Storm-petrels are probably not present. Rare Gulls are a possibility, Sabine’s, and maybe rare terns, Arctic?”

Jon McIntyre: “The shearwaters are present in Nov but I’ve only seen one in Dec (a Great Shearwater I photographed last year). Jaegers become common in Dec and throughout the winter. Masked booby I’ve had almost every month of the year and Gannets should be showing up very soon. I would think Winter would be the best chance for a skua also.”


View Texas Pelagic 2016 Tracks from South Padre Is in a larger map

Click on the box in the upper left of the map to view the map legend.

Click on each Pelagic Course and the data label will appear with the date of the trip.

Leave a Reply