These pages feature the regular pelagic birds to be found on Monterey Bay
boat trips, but each species has its own season. Of course, not all birds
will be found every trip, even in the prime season. All photos on this
page were taken on Monterey Bay (except for one San Diego photo so
labeled). We continue with storm-petrels
STORM-PETRELS THROUGH PHALAROPES
text & most photos by Don Roberson
those attributed to other photographers
used with permission; all rights reserved.
Photos above © D. Roberson, 3 Oct 1982 (both shots) . Photos
© D. Roberson, 25 Aug 1983 (left) & 18 Apr 1995 (right).
Wilson's Storm-Petrel occurs only in very small numbers
among the huge flocks of Ashy and Black Storm-Petrels in Sep-Oct. Usually
they are difficult to spot among the swirling flocks, but this one in Oct
1982 (left & right) was the closest bird to the boat!
Photos below © D. Roberson 3 Oct 1982
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel is most often found well offshore,
but one might highlight a winter Monterey Bay trip. It is most often seen
near-shore, however, after gale force winds force storm-petrels into harbors
or along the shoreline. Scoping during major storms can be productive,
but rarely a smattering will linger a few days right off Monterey wharves,
as these in August 1983 and April 1995.
Photo below © D. Roberson 25 Sep 1979
Ashy Storm-Petrel is a regular visitor to Monterey Bay,
and records span the seasons, but by far the highest concentrations occur
in autumn (Aug-Nov, peak Sep-Oct). At that season, perhaps 90% of the world's
population may form dense flocks and roost over the north rim of the Monterey
Bay canyon. Black Storm-Petrels (below) join these flocks in numbers, but
7 species have occurred in them over the years. Ashy Storm-Petrel (left)
is our "standard" all-dark storm-petrel, decidedly smaller than Black,
and often look like they have an "upturned" tail in flight (note the center
bird). They are a dark ashy-gray color, and not really blackish like Black,
Wilson's, and Least storm-petrels.
Photos below © D. Roberson 3 Oct 1982 (left) & © Robert
Copper 8 Sep 1979 from a boat trip offshore San Diego (right)
Black Storm-Petrel is a regular fall (Aug-Oct) visitor,
when many may be present, but numbers vary year-to-year. Most of those
shown in the photo (right) are Blacks; you can pick out just a few smaller
Ashys. In flight, Black Storm-Petrel has a languid, butterfly-like stoke
with long forked tails (see photo below, far right).
Photos below © D. Roberson, 18 Apr 1995 (left) & 9 May
1996 (right; Zmudowski SB)
Least Storm-Petrel is a scarce visitor during warm-water
years. Most records are from September in the large storm-petrel flocks
on the Bay. It is a very tiny, very black, direct-flying, and almost 'tail-less'
looking storm-petrel. In a shot from offshore San Diego (far right), Leasts
are seen flying among the much larger Blacks. Look at the lower two birds:
long-tailed Black to left, and much smaller, and very short-tailed Least
to its right. There are very few photos of Least Storm-Petrel from Monterey
Bay, but in this shot (near left) note the almost 'tail-less' appearance,
the very short neck and short, broad wings.
Red Phalarope is a very common migrant offshore during both
spring and fall migrations. By far the bulk of the movement occurs beyond
sight of the coastline, but birds are routinely found on pelagic trips
in season. Sometimes, strong NW winds push thousands into Monterey Bay.
In some years good numbers winter offshore, and can also be pushed inside
Monterey Bay during storms.
Photo below © D. Roberson 3 Aug 1981 at Salinas R. mouth
|Compared to Red-necked Phalarope (below), Red is a larger, bulkier
bird with a shorter, stout bill (pale base to lower mandible as close range).
The gray color of basic-plumaged birds (left) is paler than Red-necked,
and the white wingstripe broader. In spring, we see a variety of plumages
from full basic to full alternate; the one shown to the right is showing
much body molt.
Red-necked Phalarope is a common spring and fall migrant,
with much of the movement offshore. However, unlike Red, good numbers of
Red-necks are also seen annually on shore at beach margins and scattered
throughout interior ponds. On fall boat trips, Red-necked is usually more
common than Red, and it occurs from the shoreline to far offshore. This
stretching juvenal bird (left) shows the darker gray color to the upperparts
than the paler gray of Red Phalarope, and the shorter and crisper wingstripe.
Note the very thin and somewhat longer bill of Red-necked Phalarope.
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Page created 6-22 Nov 2002