Sunday, September 2, 2012

Laysan Albatross

Laysan Albatross 30 Miles SW of Half Moon Bay
Pelagic trip out of Half Moon Bay led by Alvaro Jaramillo August 25th 2012.
 A bird that's been on my list and today I saw 2 individuals on this trip.  This one has leg bands which I will show in additional photos. I added 5 birds to my Life List, Laysan Albatross, Wilson's Storm Petrel,Forked-tailed Storm Petrel, Hawaiian Petrel and Long-tailed Jaeger. The Hawaiian Petrel is very rare in this location actually so rare it's the first sighting ever in San Mateo County; it was the bird of the day for the birders on board. For me, the overcast conditions, the difficult boat photography yeilded no decent pictures for the smaller distant but exciting Petrels!

Laysan Albatross Banded Left Orange 3K1 Right Single Grey Band
Grey band on right leg, Orange 3K1 on left.
The boat trip was interesting and long, left 0700 returned 1800. The weather was heavy overcast and cold. I rarely use the word cold in reference to myself.  The good news is I was blessed with seeing my first Laysan Albatross,  actually I saw 2 separate individuals. One had bands see below. We encountered two large rafts of Petrels perhaps about 800 birds in all. Also new for me was a Long-tailed Jaeger, and a Pomarine Jaeger (I need to verify this with my photos). Also new was Forked-tail Storm Petrel, Hawaiian Petrel and a Wilson’s Storm Petrel. Also saw the usual Black-footed Albatross, the Sooty Shearwater, the Pink-footed Shearwater and the Buller’s Shearwater, plus the South Polar Skua, and a Blue Whale. Other Petrels was the Black Storm Petrel and the Ashy Storm Petrel.  All in all I was disappointed with the photos, especially the Petrels. I don’t know what I should expect considering these guys are not much larger than a Barn Swallow and rarely come close to the boat.

We traveled South-West out of HMB to deep water, a good 30 miles out. We hit warmer water, about 60 degrees and deep maybe 5000 ft. All week I had been checking the ocean and noticing the very calm waters around HMB. However over the deep water the swells get very large. This made photography very difficult and dangerous.

I think the combination of the swells and boat geometry made this the most difficult and strenuous time I’ve ever had trying to shoot pictures.  Just trying to keep your balance on such a heaving boat probably uses more calories than a half marathon…….really!