July 19, 2014 S Padre Island, TRIP REPORT
Hi Pelagic Birders,
After stressing out all week about the weather forecasts for 5-7′ or greater seas for Saturday, there was no wind at all as our group of 27 pelagic birders and leaders gathered in the pre-dawn at the Osprey dock. The nearest offshore NOAA Wave Buoy 42020 was reporting in only 2.5 ‘ seas. So this time we lucked out with the weather.
As we cleared the South Padre Island Jetties in the pre-dawn twilight the seas were barely 2 ft, the skies were partly cloudy and some sea haze and light fog limited visibility to less then a mile. At 9:30am the air had cleared and we recorded our first sea bird, a Band-rumped Storm Petrel which flew across the bow about 75 yards out but didn’t stop. As we reached the edge of the continental shelf an Audubon’s Shearwater was spotted to the starboard by Kelly Smith one of our sharp eyed participants. It made a brief fly-by that was too quick for everybody to see. Thirty minutes later Kelly spotted another shearwater, presumably an Audubon’s, but it was seen by only a few.
A few unidentified passerines migrating over the Gulf were seen along with 2 night-herons and an egret. Later in the day a Purple Martin and a Baltimore Oriole flew by.
As we sailed on towards 2,000 ft of water depth we decided to set out a first chum slick and then another and return to the slick area in 30-60 minutes on the way back in to see what they may have attracted. The second slick which we returned to first had no birds. We reached the first slick a short cruise away and found 4 Band-rumped Storm Petrels circling the area. This time everyone was able to get long and extended views.
We left the slicks and cruised back towards the shelf. We found a large pod of Pelagic Bottlenose Dolphins who seemed thrilled to see us as many leapt high into the air as they approached our bow wave for some fun bow riding. They stayed with the boat for only a few minutes.
We cruised past a few shrimp boats in shallower shelf waters and as we approached the second shrimper a Cory’s Shearwater passed by. Just a few minutes later a Masked Booby left the second shrimper and flew over head towards the first shrimper. We followed in pursuit but the Booby flew out of sight.
I want to thank our dedicated trip leaders: Eric Carpenter, Petra Hockey, Randy Pinkston and John O’Brien for the hard work in making these trips possible. Also the captain and mate of the Osprey. And lastly I want to thank all of our pelagic birding participants who without your continued support these trips couldn’t happen.
Good pelagic birding
FINAL TRIP LIST :
TOTAL PELAGIC SPECIES – 4
TOTAL PELAGIC SEABIRDS – 9
Band Rumped Storm-Petrel – 5
Audubon’s Shearwater – 1
Cory’s Shearwater – 1
Masked Booby – 1
Shearwater sp – 1
Green Sea Turtle
Kemp Ridley’s Sea Turtle
Here is a map of the trip track as recorded by my GPS.
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