Return to California – Shearwater Journey’s – September 15th

This year Shearwater Journey’s was celebrating 40 years of sea birding and when my friend Doug Koch (pronounced Cook) suggested we go on a few trips, I jumped at the chance.

Information on Shearwater Journey’s can be found below:

Doug has been photographing pelagic birds for years and has an incredible portfolio.  His photos can be seen at:

After Sue and I got home the two weeks went by like a blur and as I boarded the Air Canada jet, my mind was on the two upcoming pelagic trips.  One was out of Half-moon Bay on the 15th, out of Monterey on the 16th with Shearwater Journey’s.

The Half-moon Bay trip:

Departure Point: Half Moon Bay Sportfishing, 27 Johnson Pier, Pillar Point Harbor, Half Moon Bay
Destination: Varies: continental shelf break; possibly Guide Seamount
Trip length: Varies: 6-10 hours

I landed at LAX at one in the afternoon and traveled the 400 miles north to Half-moon Bay.  I stopped at a Wal-Mart along the way to pick up a sleeping bag and pillow.  Knowing there weren’t any hotel room available and lovely night sleeping in the car awaited me.

The drive up too a bit longer that I thought and I arrived at about 1:00 am, found the local Starbucks and parked out front.

I woke up when my phone alarm went off at 6:30 am.  I took my medicine bag into Starbucks, brushed my teeth, grabbed a coffee, ate my breakfast sandwich and spoke with a few other patrons who were also going on the pelagic trip.

I went over to the dock and met up with Doug, listened to the pre-boarding lecture and off we went.

The skies were overcast and waters calm, not a great day for photography or birds.

We checked out the rock jetty on our way out, it was full of Pelican’s, with a mix of gull’s, cormorant’s and the odd Surfbird.




Rocks were in short supply



There were many Common Murres close to shore giving everyone on board lovely up close views.


A bit further out we began to see Black-vented Shearwater’s,  Life Bird #706.  A  bird I’d seen from shore on a previous trip to San Francisco earlier in the year but decided not to count until I had better closer looks..

Black-Vented Shearwater – Life Bird #706




The water was fairly calm as pelagic trips go and when its calm not much is moving but soon this was to change when on of the crew yell “its got a white chin”.

A code 5 White-chinned Petrel was coming in to see what all the excitement was all about.  This was the 5th confirmed record for this species in the ABA area and my Life Bird #707.





What an experience, a totally unexpected bird…that’s what makes pelagics so much fun, you just never know what will show up.

We had a lovely day out on the water birds followed us and every so often came close for a  close up.

Light Northern Fulmar


Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel


Black-footed Albatross


Pink-footed Shearwater Top View


Pink-footed Shearwater


Brown Booby


Sabine’s Gull



A good day had by all.

Now it was time for a nice meal a glass of wine and much needed sleep in preparation for tomorrows pelagic.

Ciao for now

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