A strong cold front swept through the Monterey Bay region on Friday bringing with it gusty northwest winds and optimal viewing conditions for Point Pinos. The show started Friday afternoon with a few Sabine's Gulls and a scattering of Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels. By dawn on Saturday, the winds were really cranking and the flight was in full swing all day. We did hourly checklists in eBird for the day (and those will be fleshed out with photos soon), but the highlight totals were:
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel: 195 (many right off the rocks; most photographed)
Ashy Storm-Petrel: 2
Leach's Storm-Petrel: 4 (photos of two)
Black-footed Albatross: 100+
Laysan Albatross: 2 (photos)
Red Phalarope: 1927 (photos)
Red-necked Phalarope: 169,000 (simply astronomical numbers, hard to estimate)
Sabine's Gull: 2335 (many photos, big flocks)
Tufted Puffin: 2
Overall it was the best spring seawatching I've ever had from the point. Alas, we were unable to find any Pterodroma petrels from shore.
In addition to the event at the point, Monterey Harbor was awash in Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels, with more than 70 estimated in the inner harbor just feet off the docks. Also both phalaropes there.
Thanks and good birding!
Brian L. Sullivan
eBird Project Leader
Birds of North America Online