Monday, February 20, 2012

Boating to the Farallones

About two weeks ago Cory and I were invited to go on a food run to bring groceries to PRBO's field station on the Southeast Farallone Island (SEFI).  We spent an entire afternoon buying tons of food for the crew, and on Saturday February 4th we headed out at 7am on a 45ft sailboat to the Farallones.  The conditions could not have been more perfect, so we were told, for getting onto the island.  The swells were small, the wind was light, and the visibility clear as ever.  Yet when we got to the island, the crane lift was having issues, and the landing was "dicey." Although we couldn't get onto the island, much to our resentment, the ride out and back was worthwhile.  I was hoping for lots of pelagic species, but the birding was relatively slow.  Despite this, we saw thousands of Common Murres, a few Rhinoceros Auklets, a distant flyby of 5 unidentified murrelet spuhs (almost certainly Ancient Murrelets), and plenty of gulls, grebes, loons, and cormorants to boot.  We also had a very brief look at a bird that was likely a Northern Fulmar, but I was only on it for about three seconds before I lost it behind the waves forever.  Considering we weren't stopping for birds or chumming, I'd say we did alright.
Common Murre.  Often thought of as a black and white bird, the upperparts (especially the head) are really more of a deep chocoloate-brown.
Many murres are already in breeding plumage on the west coast.  What a treat, even if they are pretty common.
We watched thousands of these birds starting at the head of San Francisco Bay, but most were about 5-10 miles offshore.

When we finally got to SEFI, PRBO and Fish and Wildlife crew came to meet us.  Their boat has to be lowered by a large crane into the water.
Ryan (driving in the back), is a PRBO researcher studying pinnipeds (specifically elephant seals, I think) on the island.
Another look at the crane.
Pelagic Cormorant.  Note the thin bill, straight neck, and white patch behind the wing.

By Luke Musher

2 comments:

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  2. Nice post man I really appreciate your work Thanks for sharing! Latest Nature Pictures

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