June 3, 2002; S Padre Island; TRIP REPORT

by | Jun 16, 2022

Aboard the Osprey II

Subject: June 3 pelagic

Date: Tue, 4 Jun 2002 17:35:52 -0400

The following are results from the World Birding Center pelagic birding trip that departed from South Padre Island on 3 June 2002. Seas were running about 3-4  feet with a steady SE breeze throughout the day. Not surprisingly, Band-rumped Storm-Petrels were the most often encountered seabird, with 24  individuals being recorded during our five hours over deepwater. Gliding closely across the boat’s bow, several of the band-rumps provided excellent  views of plumage and flight pattern. We also had 11 unidentified  storm-petrels: most, if not all, were presumed band-rumps.

One of   the highlights was also our first seabird of the trip, a young Bridled Tern  sitting atop some driftwood. This molting bird showed mostly adult body   plumage (dark brown), yet still retained the facial pattern of a juvenile bird. Everyone was afforded great looks as it flew repeatedly back to its   driftwood perch, showing noticeable white edges on its outer tail feathers.

Another   high point of the trip was a nearly adult plumaged light-morph Pomarine Jaeger harassing three first year Franklin’s and one first year Laughing   Gull. The jaeger appeared to be a subadult bird molting into adult plumage: it had a well-defined breastband and nearly full length tail streamers, yet   had strongly barred uppertail coverts. The behavior of the jaeger was  especially enjoyable to hawk expert Bill Clark, who may have been undergoing  some raptor withdrawals while onboard (just kidding Bill).

The bird voted “most congenial” was an obliging subadult Masked Booby, which made at least three close passes above the boat. After minute or two of this, it  then wheeled into a graceful “fishhook” dive. Rounding out the birds seen in the deepwater (3,000 feet) portion were Sooty and Black Terns. Also seen over the continental shelf (near the deepwater dropoff) were both “pelagic” bottlenose and spotted dolphins.

Except  for the Franklin’s Gulls and a small flock of Cattle Egrets (leader only), there were no migrant land birds seen. In late afternoon, it was great to see a juvenile Frigatebird in the Brownsville Ship Channel, capping off a nice day in the gulf.

Also seen in offshore waters (but not in deepwater) was Royal Tern. It wasn’t until we could almost see land that we were joined by Laughing Gulls and  Sandwich Terns.

Brad McKinney

WBC Birding Programs World Birding Center



Magnificent Frigatebird- 1, Brownsville Ship Channel

Masked Booby- 1, deepwater

Band-rumped   Storm-Petrel- 24, all in deepwater

Un-id. Storm-petrel- 11, all in deepwater

Pomarine Jaeger- 1, deepwater

Bridled Tern- 2, deepwater

Sooty Tern- 1, deepwater


“Pelagic” Bottlenose Dolphins

Atlantic Spotted dolphins.


Franklin’s Gull- 3, deepwater

Laughing Gull- 1, deepwater

Royal Tern

Sandwich Tern 

Black Tern- 5, deepwater

Here is a map of the trip track as recorded by my GPS.


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