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Pelagic April 2-10 2005 San Diego to Acapulco

A 20-60x70 MM Meopta Spotting Scope was a very useful tool.

We left the port of San Diego on Saturday 2 April at 6:00pm. We were north of Punta Eugenia at sunrise on Sunday 3 April on calm seas. In fact the seas were so calm with so little wind that the ship practically ran over two Black-footed Albatross that had difficulty taking off to get out of the way. I always look forward to the seawatching off of Punta Eugenia, the waters here are rich with birds and marine life. I bet the same current that brings treasure to Malarrimo beach brings the birds. Legend has it that anything lost at sea in the pacific will eventually end up on Malarrimo beach!

Monday 4 April we sailed through the shallow and empty waters off the southern coast of Baja .  In the afternoon as we passed the point and began to cross the gulf things began to pick up with several Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrels, Red-billed Tropicbird  and by end of day Audubon’s Shearwater. The Audubon’s come relatively close to Baja and should be looked for off Cabo or in the southern end of the gulf.

At sunrise Tuesday 5 April we were off the coast of north of Manzanillo.  The bird life here was tremendous, hundreds of Bridled Terns, several Brown Noddies, Audubon’s Shearwater, lots of Black and Least Storm-Petrel, hundreds probably thousands of Brown Boobies. Port in Acapulco 2:00pm local time.

Wednesday 6 April Ixtapa

A shore excursion here was late starting 10:00ish, we went to a small reserve in Ixtapa where highlights included Roadside Hawk, Erato Heliconian, Crocodile, Yellow-winged Cacique, Citroline Trogon and one of the biggest Spiny Iguanas I have ever seen. 

Thursday 7 April Manzanillo, Play de Oro Road and Airport Marshes

Friday 8 April Off Cabo

Saturday 9 April Punta Eugenia

Species Accounts


Laysan Albatross (3) 

Two south of Bahia Asuncion and one well north of Punta Eugenia on return trip.

Black-footed Albatross (3)

Two south of Punta Eugenia on the trip down and one just south of Punta Eugenia on trip north

Pink-footed Shearwater

            Several in the vicinity of Punta Eugenia, none south of Cabo

Wedge-tailed Shearwater (Probably 3)

A dark morph south of Punta Eugenia was seen well and easily identified.

Sooty Shearwater (4)

            Two around Punta Eugenia and two off Manzanillo         

Townsend’s Shearwater (1)

            Off Acapulco in very worn plumage.

Black-vented Shearwater

Several seen on trip south but only two seen on return trip past Punta Eugenia. Several off Manzanillo and Acapulco but confusion with Audubon’s can be problematic especially when birds are in poor light.  If seen well Audubon’s is easily separated by bright white underwings and body, and brown upperparts.

Audubon’s Shearwater (6+)

            Off Manzanillo south to Acapulco . One seen at decimal 21.5067 and

-108.4624 may have been in Baja waters!

Lots of Storm-Petrels went unidentified!

Leach’s Storm-Petrel (2-4)

            The few that were seen well were between Cabo and Manzanillo

Ashy Storm-Petrel (2-6)

            Two seen well as they flew along side the ship off Punta Eugenia.        

The characteristic bluntish primaries, fluttery and rhythmic direct flight is unique and diagnostic once learned.

Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel (10+)

            All seen south and east of Cabo between Cabo and Manzanillo.

Black Storm-Petrel (several)

A few seen around Punta Eugenia and many seen off Manzanillo and Acapulco

Least Storm-Petrel (several)

            All seen from off Manzanillo south to Acapulco

Several observed with Black Storm-petrels off Manzanillo and Acapulco . The tiny slender wings and short tail are striking when next to a Black. I may have seen Least’s off Punta Eugenia but I did not positively ID any Least’s north of Manzanillo.

Red-billed Tropicbird (5)

            All south and east of Cabo between Cabo and Acapulco

Masked Booby (1)

            One adult way in the distance off Cabo

Brown Booby (hundreds)

            Mostly off Manzanillo and Acapulco . A few at sea off Cabo.

Magnificent Frigatebird (Many)

            Mostly off Acapulco , but a few at sea near Cabo

Red-necked Phalarope

Red Phalarope

Hundreds and hundreds of both Phalaropes off Manzanillo south to Acapulco . Scads of unidentified Phalaropes off Punta Eugenia probably Reds.

Pomarine Jaeger (3)

Parasitic Jaeger (2)

Sabine’s Gull (50+)

Mostly off Manzanillo south to Acapulco , but one group of 5 was off Punta Eugenia

Arctic Tern (1)

            A single just south of Punta Eugenia

Bridled Tern (100+)

            Abundant off Manzanillo

Sooty Tern (4-6)

            Off Manzanillo

Black Tern (several)

            Many from Manzanillo south to Acapulco

Brown Noddy (50+)

            Off Manzanillo most often in small groups

Xantus's Murrelet (4)

            1 seen well near Punta Eugenia

Cassin's Auklet (3)

            All in the vicinity of Punta Eugenia

Rhinoceros Auklet (3)

            Near Punta Eugenia





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