Day 217 – …and if you want these kind of dreams…

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I’m in a California state of mind. I finished my whirlwind 5 state jaunt in 8 days on a Debi Shearwater pelagic to the Farallon Islands.

I arrived in San Francisco and immediately tried to see a rare Little Stint. Had a brief look at it before it flew, never to return. I could not report it. I just had too brief a look. That’s how it goes… Dipped twice this week on 2 awesome rarities.

Undeterred, I decided to go to Pinnacles National Park to see California Condors. After a 2.5 hour drive, I arrived at the visitor center at 3 in the afternoon. Not the ideal time to hike almost 3 miles in 110 degree weather. In fact I think the word the Park Ranger used was “crazy.” Well, that’s understood.

I have hiked 4 mountains in 4 states in 8 days. All beautiful hikes. The Wasatch Mountains in Utah, Big Bend NP in Texas, the Ruby Mountains in Nevada and Pinnacles NP in California. As much as I have loved all of this climbing, it was really nice to be on the water yesterday headed to the Farallon Islands off the San Francisco coast.

Ever since I saw the movie “The Big Year”, I’ve wanted to go on a Debi Shearwater pelagic. In the movie, Debi was played by Anjelica Houston, an actress I’ve always loved. Debi is a legend in birding circles, taking people out on the water for decades.

I was expecting the legendary rough waters out to the Farallons, instead we had the calmest seas possible. It wasn’t long before we saw a rare Masked Booby. Before the day was over, we’d have 3 different Booby species!!

The Farallon Islands are a critical habitat for many seabirds and mammals, many threatened or endangered. They are off-limits to the public and can only be circled by boat at a safe distance. The noise coming from the thousands of nesting Common Murres is deafening. The diversity in these waters is overwhelming. You really don’t know where to look!

We had 44 Humpback Whales, several Blue Whales and Gray Whales on our voyage. Not to mention the Fur Seal colony and all of the Sea Lions we saw on the islands themselves.

I added 4 species on this pelagic. A super day on the water!

One last note. I met another birder at the Jabiru stakeout in Texas who was heading to San Francisco as well. Robert and I ended up birding together, sharing a rental car and even going on the same pelagic! Birders are awesome and almost always willing to share. On to my next adventure!

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