Aug 27, 2011; S Padre Island; TRIP REPORT

by | Jun 16, 2022

Aboard the Osprey

Subject: Recap of Saturday’s South Padre Island Pelagic Trip August 27, 2011 

Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2011 22:49:15 GMT

From: Brad McKinney

Subject SPI pelagic summary 27 August 2011

Good afternoon,

Saturday’s pelagic off South Padre was exceptional on all counts. The seas were calm, the wind was light, and seabird activity was consistent during most of our   time in deepwater. With such calm conditions, we were able to reach the deepwater 100-fathom curve, about 45 miles out, just after 10:00 am. Blue   water began only seven miles out with the deep cobalt blue water only 20   miles offshore. Lots of flying fish were seen throughout the day. There was   only minimal birding activity on the anchored shrimp boats on the way out,   mostly Royal, Sandwich, and Common Terns, in that order of abundance.

We had numerous Black Terns during the first two hours of the trip and a smattering   of migrating waders and ducks. We had our first seabird, a Masked Booby, at   10:30 am and spent the next three and a half hours working the tidewater lines around 70 miles out where we encountered several tuna schools. At about   10:40 am, we had decent looks at a lone Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, which made one long pass along the boat before soaring out of sight. After good looks at   a Bridled Tern, we encountered a rare pod of 40 Rough-toothed Dolphins, a first sighting of this cetacean on Texas pelagic trips. For the next 15-20   minutes, the captain made a slow circle and the dolphins treated us to a playful bow-riding spectacle. It took four Bridled Terns to pry us away from   the dolphins. While sitting on debris, a couple of Bridled Terns allowed the   boat to approach quite closely providing excellent views.

By 11:30 am we found the first of several fish schools, which held Bridled, Black, Least, and Common Terns. Shortly before noon, we found a tuna school   with a most impressive Whale Shark, estimated at 40 feet, which nearly kissed   the boat. In the vicinity, we had extended looks at three Audubon’s   Shearwaters and both Sooty (3) and Bridled Terns. We also had an unidentifiable jaeger scream by, a probable Parastic.

In a nearby feeding frenzy we observed three small Atlantic Sharp-nosed Sharks   attacking the surface after minnows. After another closeup Bridled Tern   flyby, we got good looks at four Band-rumped Storm-Petrels and one Leach’s Storm Petrel flying low across the bow. The Leach’s provided extended looks   both on the water and in flight. We had another Leach’s Storm-Petrel at 2:00pm, still in deepwater at 200 fathoms. Leach’s Storm-Petrel is a Texas review species; Eric Carpenter welcomes any photographic or written details.

In early afternoon we saw a few migrant landbirds: swallow sp., Olive-sided Flycatcher, Yellow and Wilson’s Warblers, and Orchard Oriole. In the late   afternoon, we had a couple of more Masked Boobies, the last one was just four or five miles from shore. A great time was had by all. If leaders or participants see any errors or omissions in this summary, please let me know.

Many thanks to co-leaders Eric Carpenter, Mary Gustafson, Petra Hockey, and Randy Pinkston for a fantastic job. Special thanks to both Eric Carpenter and Tamie Bulow and the SPI Birding and Nature Center for exceptional efforts in organization and sponsorship of this year’s pelagic trips.

Look for photos and trip details soon at Gary Hodne’s Texas Pelagics website,

Looking  forward to next year!

Brad McKinney

Rancho Viejo, TX




Audubon’s Shearwater (5)

Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (5)

Leach’s Storm-Petrel (2)

Masked Booby (3)

Jaeger sp. (1)

Bridled Tern (20)

Sooty Tern (3)


Rough-toothed Dolphins (40+)

Pelagic Bottle-nosed Dolphins (30+)


Whale Sharks (2)

Black-finned Tuna

Yellow-finned Tuna

Atlantic Sharp-nosed Sharks (10)

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


Album 1 all photos ©

Album 2 Photos © Randy Pinkston, Melody Lytle, and Gil Eckrich.


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