September 25 – 27, 2022 Pre-TRIP POSTS and ANNOUNCEMENTS:

by | Aug 23, 2022


The second 48-hour trip from Freeport on Sept 25-27, 2022, I hope will be even better than the first 48 hour trip on June 1-3, 2022, which was really a great trip that had 10 pelagic species and 92 individual seabirds even though it was an early shoulder season trip aimed specifically for storm-petrels, and mainly the Wilson’s Storm-Petrel. This was one of the top 3 trips out of the 22 trips that I’ve led since 2014.

I have even higher hopes for this coming trip because July, August and September are the best months from our experience for pelagic birding offshore Texas. In my opinion this trip has a better chance of finding the rare Black-capped Petrel out of any the previous 50 Texas Pelagic trips. My plan for this 48-hour trip is to search the eastern continental slope of Offshore Texas in waters up to 6,000 feet deep and 160 miles offshore. This area is to the east of waters typically searched from Port Aransas. It is an area of the continental slope that has the most extremely varied bathymetry in offshore Texas due to the numerous salt domes found here. The plan for this upcoming trip is to cruise east parallel along the inner slope (beyond the shelf-edge) in 1,000 – 3,000 feet of water for most of the first day. Towards midafternoon we will turn south to cruise to deeper waters for the evening and overnight. The second day we will start in very deep waters and work our way back towards shore. The planned course can be seen below.

The very-deep offshore continental slope beyond 100 miles from shore is the LAST FRONTIER of Texas Pelagic birding and has rarely been birded. It is the domain of long-range tuna fishing boats that routinely go 100 – 200 miles plus offshore on 48 to 72 hour long trips. A few intrepid birders have ridden along as passengers on these tuna trips and have found some good seabirds, but these tuna trips are far from ideal for pelagic birding.

Because sign-ups for the second 48-hour trip have been slower that the first 48-hour trip, that sold out in less than 24 hours, I’ve decided to only offer one 48-hour trip in 2023. This means if you want to go on one 48-hour trip in the next 2 years signing up for this year’s trip is a good idea. Next year’s single trip may again sell out very fast.

If you keep a Texas State list, you’ll definitely want to go on multiple Texas Pelagic trips to add these pelagic birds to your state list. You may find they can become addicting after a few amazing trips. The pelagic seabird species we always expect to find include: Cory’s, Scopoli’s (not yet a full species by AOU but will be eventually) and Audubon’s Shearwaters, Band-rumped and Leach’s Storm-Petrels, Bridled and Sooty Terns, Masked and Brown Booby, Pomarine and Parasitic Jaegers, and Magnificent Frigatebird. But almost without fail every trip seems to find a nice rarity or two including all these which have been seen on Texas Pelagic trips multiple times: Manx Shearwater, Great Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Brown Noddy, Long-tailed Jaeger, South Polar Skua, Sabine’s Gull, Red-billed Tropicbird. As if that’s not enough we do occasionally get a mega-rarity like the famous Yellow-nosed Albatross, or Arctic Tern, and Black-capped Petrel. Other seabirds seen in Texas waters very-rarely are always a possibility. This could include: Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, Trindade Petrel, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Red-footed Booby. The complete list of Texas Pelagic Species can be found here: Texas Pelagic Seabirds

If you’re a Texas Century Club birder and are working on Coastal County lists taking a pelagic trip is an easy way to add species to your county lists. I’ve posted our planned course to the Texas Pelagics website so you can get an idea of the eBird Counties each trip will be birding in. These maps include the offshore county lines as determined by eBird. (Despite eBird’s claim the county lines it calculates are not strictly the nearest point of land.) 

I think the 48-hour trip is a real bargain considering that a trip to S Padre Island would cost at a minimum the pelagic fare plus 2 nights in a motel or close to $400 already not including gas and food. If you live near Houston or Corpus, you could easily do this trip without needing a motel. All food and drinks are supplied. They provide wholesome meals and snacks throughout the day.

We can take 32 seabirders max as there are 30 bunks. The cost per person will be $600.00, with all meals included. Two couples can share a double bed bunk at a discounted cost of $500 each. I think that is a real bargain considering that a trip to S Padre Island would cost at a minimum the pelagic fare plus 2 nights in a motel or close to $400 already not including gas and food. If you live near Houston or Corpus, you could easily do this trip without needing a motel.


The planned course for this pelagic is shown by the dashed lines. Segment A (purple): Sunday nights cruise; Segment B (yellow): Monday’s cruise; Segment C (purple): Monday night’s drift area; Segment D (red): Tuesday morning’s cruise; Segment E (dark red): Tuesday afternoon’s cruise beck to the dock. The colored bathymetry is derived from high resolution 3D seismic surveys and illustrates the extremely varied seafloor. The U-shaped feature in the lower center is called the Horseshoe Basin where water depths exceed 6,000 ft.

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