We had a very successful trip out of Ventura today with Island Packers. I had one twisted pelagic fantasy when I loaded my gear on the boat this morning and by 4 pm we had fulfilled it...we had all five North American boobies on one trip!! I imagine we are the first trip to achieve this in the ABA area.
We started at Anacapa Island where we found the continuing Masked Booby on the cliff faces. As we headed south from there we picked up on a distant booby south of Anacapa that we suspected was a Red-footed. Captain Joel floored it and we caught up the the bird, which was indeed a dark morph Red-footed Booby. From there we birded our way down to Santa Barbara Island where we found the continuing Brown Boobies there (80ish birds) with the bonus of a Blue-footed Booby amongst them. As we left the island number five had appeared to elude us, but as we swung around to the east side of the island we encountered a large feeding flock of Black-vented Shearwaters and other birds when soon after the cry of "black-and-white booby" rang out. We put the pedal to the metal one more time and ran down another booby. We eventually got close looks at the bird and noted the orangish bill...Nazca Booby! All five North American boobies on the same day...amazing! Perhaps a once in a lifetime birding event.
Beyond the booby extravaganza, we had good fortune with a number of other birds including several large flock of Black-vented Shearwaters, which totaled in excess of 6,000 birds. These flocks had other shearwaters mixed in including Pink-footed, Buller's, and a Manx; numbers of attending jaegers (Pomarines and Parasitics); and others including Red-necked Phalarope, Common Murre, Cassin's Auklet, and Northern Fulmar. Deeper water south of the northern Islands had more shearwaters including one of the few Sooties we saw all day, Black and Ashy Storm-Petrels (and a Least seen by a few of us), Long-tailed Jaegers, Sabine's Gulls, Common Terns, and a number of Craveri's Murrelets. All in all a day that will be remembered by everyone there. Some birders got all five boobies as lifers, which is completely unfair to those of us that needed 49 years to see them all in the ABA Area. ;-)
Thanks to Island Packers and Captain Joel Barrett for supporting our pelagic endeavors, and the leaders that helped today (Adam Searcy, Hugh Ranson, and Wes Fritz).
We hope to get more trips on the schedule out of Ventura next year.