May 28, 1994; Port O’Connor TRIP REPORT
Aboard the Chip XI
Report Transcribed from 1995 Texas Deepwater Pelagic Trips Newsletter
Copyrighted By: Dwight Peake and Mark Elwonger
First Port O’Connor Pelagic Trip Smashes Records:
The first deep-water Texas birding trip accessible to the general birding public departed from the Hustler Marine Dock promptly at 4:15 AM on May 28, 1994 and sailed into ornithological history.
Crossing the 50 mile Continental Shelf was unproductive but just as a lynch mob formed around the trip leaders, the day’s first Storm-Petrels flushed ahead of the boat at 9:30 AM. As we continued to waters as deep as 3,000 feet, we were entertained with an almost constant parade of unusual sea creatures and rare birds.
A Bridled Tern sitting on nearby debris, a large school of Yellow-finned Tuna, a pod of dolphins breaching to join us and ride our bow wave, a Whale Shark passing right along the boat! The time spent in deep water passed too quickly as we went from one spectacle to the next.
Nick Jackson, already with a Texas bird list over 500, added five state birds! Al Valentine added number 737 to his life list with Band-rumped Storm-Petrel. Our trip list, which included a Northern Waterthrush and a Bobolink (which took a half-hour break on the boat), also included five species previously documented fewer than 20 times (2 less than ten times, 1 less than 5 times) in Texas: Bridled Tern (18), Audubon’s Shearwater (16), Black-capped Petrel (1) confirmed later by photographs taken by Phyllis Frank. The photos circulated among experts on the East Coast who positively identified it as a Black-capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata) instead of a Greater Shearwater as originally thought, and Leach’s (4) and Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (26)!
Our sightings included two Whale Sharks (the world’s largest fish) and four species of marine mammals. We returned to Port O’Connor after a beautiful Gulf sunset on time, tired, and elated for participating in the best Gulf of Mexico Pelagic trip ever!
FINAL TRIP LIST :
TOTAL PELAGIC SPECIES – 5
TOTAL PELAGIC SEABIRDS – 65
Black-capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata) – 1
Audubon’s Shearwater – 16
Leach’s Storm-Petrel – 4
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel – 26
Bridled Tern – 18
LANDBIRD MIGRANTS Sp:
Northern Waterthrush – 1
Bobolink – 1 f.
Whale Shark – 2
OCEANOGRAPHIC AND WEATHER CONDITIONS:
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