The 2019 Season Starts Early.

Hi Texbirders and Pelagic Fanatics,

I am pleased to announce that we are planning to run 3 trips in 2019.  Reservations for these first 3 trips are now open! And if all those trips make it there is the possibility of a fourth trip in September from South Padre Island.

Schedule for 2019 Texas Pelagic Trips:

Click the above link to learn more about upcoming Texas Pelagic trips, i.e. fares, trip lengths, departure times, spaces remaining, etc.

1._Sat May 25th; 16 hours; aboard the Blue Fin from Freeport the first trip on the Upper TX Coast since 1999.

2. Sat. July 27th; 14 hour; aboard the Kingfisher from Port Aransas;

3. Sat. August 24th, 16 hour; aboard the Kingfisher from Port Aransas;

Partly out of necessity beginning in 2016 we started running Texas Pelagic trips from Port Aransas because our usual charter boat The Osprey from South Padre Island would no longer charter to us during the summer tourist season which is the prime season for Gulf of Mexico pelagics. Most of the party fishing boats in Port Aransas weren’t interested in chartering to birders either to upset their fisherman clientele, except for Deep Sea Headquarters. So now we’ve run two summer Texas Pelagics from Port Aransas aboard the Kingfisher and both were great trips with large numbers of seabirds, near record numbers of seabird species and good showings of marine mammals.  I personally have high hopes for continuing great trips out of Port Aransas because of the varied deep water seafloor bathymetry and the closer proximity to the Gulf’s Loop Current.

NEW FOR 2019: We are planning to run one late spring Texas Pelagic from Freeport aboard the Blue Fin. The last time a Texas Pelagic trip was run from Freeport was back in 1999, so I think it’s about time we tried Freeport again.  The several advantages for this pelagic trip. The Blue Fin is a FAST 48’ sport-fishing boat (but it holds only 16 passengers) so we should be able to reach the shelf edge in 4 hours or less even though it is slightly farther from Freeport than Port Aransas. Plus we will be heading farther east than all other Texas Pelagics have been since at least 1999. And this season is prime time for storm-petrels and in particular the possibility of finding another Wilson’s Storm-Petrel is on my mind. Also who knows what else we could find in waters farther east? Maybe White-tailed Tropicbird?, Red-footed Booby? Okay I can dream. With 16 hours to explore we will have probably 8 hours in deep waters to explore and find whatever may be out there. And lastly many of our seabirders from the Houston area can probably save a lot of money on hotel rooms for one or both nights.

WHY GO ON A TEXAS PELAGIC? Short answer – the seabirds, the marine mammals (whales and dolphins), the world’s biggest fish and 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 seabird and wildlife encounters they’ve ever had in the state of Texas occurred on a Texas Pelagic. 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. These trips are also a great way to spend a hot summer weekend out birding where it is definitely cooler offshore than it is onshore. 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.  If you’re still unconvinced check out the testimonials from our participants and leaders.

Some of our trips over the last few years have encountered very high numbers of many of the regular pelagic seabirds: Audubon’s & Cory’s Shearwaters,  Leaches & Band-rumped Storm-Petrels, Magnificent Frigatebirds, Masked Booby, Brown Booby (now annually), Sooty & Bridled Terns and Pomarine Jaegers . In additional to those regular seabirds  we sometimes encounter Red-billed Tropicbird, Great Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Long-tailed Jaeger and Parasitic Jaeger. We have also accumulated an impressive list of rarities: Manx Shearwater, Sabine’s Gull, Brown Noddy and South Polar Skua. We have now had two trips that were fortunate enough to have a mixed species flock that included both Brown Noddy and Brown Booby in the same binocular view!  And of course in Sept 2003 we encountered the most amazing rarity for all of North America ever an incredible Yellow-nosed Albatross!!!! Prior to that there were 3 YNAB that had been found moribund or dead on Texas beaches. The first record of South Polar Skua for the Gulf of Mexico was seen in October 2004. And two other SPSK have been seen since from deep water Tuna fishing boats. Black-capped Petrel and Arctic Tern has been seen twice from Port O’Connor in May and July. BCPE has also been encountered at least once from deep water tuna fishing boats in Texas waters in the fall . It is exciting possibilities like this that keeps folks coming back for more. There are undoubtedly new discoveries still to be made offshore.  White-tailed Tropicbird, Red-footed Booby and Wilson’s Storm-Petrels will eventually be found on an organized pelagic birding trip as these birds have already been found by fisherman in Texas waters or in the case of the WTTR on a Texas beach. I’ve compiled a list of hypothetical future pelagic seabird possibilities of  that have either already been found in the Gulf of Mexico but not yet in Texas or occur off the East Coast of the US in the North Atlantic. Click Seabird galleries, checklists and bar-graphs to learn more about TX Pelagic Seabirds.

MARINE MAMMALS AND WHALE SHARKS: And of course, when there aren‘t great birds around, sometimes other marine life activity steals the show.  We routinely get Bottlenose Dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins on most trips. We have had frequent encounters with Whale Sharks, like the August 2011 trip where an absolutely monstrous Whale Shark bumped into the boat. Check out the photos of it about half-way through the slide-show from that trip. 

In 2014 on one trip we saw 18+ Sperm Whales, some right next to the boat, and 250+ Melon-headed Whales that also circled the boat. Sperm Whales are the most common whale we encounter and have been seen on 7 trips with over 50 individual whales seen in total. Mesoplodon Beaked Whales and a number of other large dolphins and smaller whales have also been seen on Texas Pelagic trips. These are some of the amazing wildlife encounters you may experience on a Texas Pelagic. 

CLICK HERE TO SIGN-UP SOON BEFORE ITS TOO LATE: I have added the options for online e- registration, online payments through PayPal and online participant e-survey. If you have any trouble with these options let me know ASAP and I get my IT department to try fix the problem. 😉 More information on these trips, logistical considerations and sign-up instructions can be found at the above link:

The May 25th trip is fast approaching and I’ll need to know if we can fill up the boat with only 16 participants by April 22nd. Also Deep Sea HQ in Port Aransas requires a long lead time for us to commit to running the charter, so they can free up the boat for fisherman if we back out. The deadline for the July 27th trip is May 1st, but I’ll be out of the country for an extended period than so I’ll need to know by April 22nd before I leave if it’s likely we can fill up this boat with close to 40 people. 

Unfortunately our Charter boat prices have increased significantly in the last few years over what they were a decade ago. Our leaders also pay close to full fare depending on the number of participants we can gather. 

Also join the Facebook group for Texas Pelagics for more information as well. 

I hope you’ll join us.

Garett Hodne

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