Aug 29, 2009; S Padre Island; TRIP REPORT
Aboard the Osprey II
Subject: South Padre Island pelagic 29 Aug 09,
Date: Sun, 30 Aug 2009 04:16:53 GMT
From: Brad McKinney
Today’s South Padre Island pelagic was a great one. The seas were calm, the birds were numerous and varied, and the marine mammals were spectacular. In all eight seabird species were seen, including two Leach’s Storm-Petrels.
A weak front pushed through in the early morning hours providing relatively cool temperatures as we left the dock. Less than an hour from the dock we had fleeting looks at a storm-petrel in the dim light before sunrise. As we headed out to deepwater water, we were challenged with nearly non-stop migrant activity including small waterfowl flocks, larger numbers of herons and egrets, and a variety of small landbirds including Yellow Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Dickcissel, and Baltimore Oriole. By the end of the day, the several hundred migrants were the most that any of us had seen on a Texas pelagic.
The few shrimp boats that we encountered produced the expected Royal, Sandwich and Common (2) Terns. As we approached one of these shrimp boats, we were greeted by a large pod of Atlantic Spotted Dolphins, which included several newborn calves (complete with birth wrinkles!). Not long after the jumping dolphin spectacle we began seeing flying fish and the first Cory’s Shearwater of the day. Once we reached deepwater we had great looks at Masked Booby, Audubon’s and Cory’s Shearwaters, and Band-rumped Storm-Petrel. It wasn’t long before we had a cooperative pair of Leach’s Storm-Petrels pass close by the boat.
By noon we watched large numbers of Bridled and Sooty Terns working tuna schools. Shortly thereafter the angled spout of a Sperm Whale broke the calm surface waters, the first of seven Sperm Whales that we would see in the next hour. Two of the whales gracefully raised their tail flukes before making their grand exit to depths of the Gulf of Mexico. By the time we saw the last seabird of the day, a Masked Booby just 3 miles from the dock, we realized that this was an amazing day.
Thank go out to Cate Ball for organizing the trip and to leaders Eric Carpenter, Mary Gustafson, Petra Hockey, and Dwight Peake for great job.
There’s still room on the September 19 pelagic. Reservations: 956-243-8179 option #3.
Thanks to Brad McKinney, John O’Brien and Lynn Barber for contributing many great photos!
FINAL TRIP LIST :
TOTAL PELAGIC SPECIES – 9
TOTAL PELAGIC SEABIRDS – 129
Cory’s Shearwater (6)
Audubon’s Shearwater (7)
Leach’s Storm-Petrel (2)
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (3)
Storm-Petrel sp. (1)
Masked Booby (4)
Magnificent Frigatebird (1)
Sooty Tern (75)
Bridled Tern (30)
Here is a map of the trip track as recorded by my GPS.
TRIP PHOTO ALBUMS
Album 1 all photos © GarettHodne.com
Album 2 Photos © Brad McKinney, John O’Brien and Lynn Barber
OCEANOGRAPHIC AND WEATHER CONDITIONS:
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