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FYI: Feb 21st Pelagic from Oxnard with stop for Island Scrub-Jay (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
For those in the neighborhood: below is the advertisement from Joel Barrett for a 9 hour pelagic trip on February 21 from Oxnard (CA), which will make a stop at Santa Cruz Island for the endemic Island Scrub-Jay.

- Wim


Hello Birders and offshore enthusiasts,

This is a trip notice to inform those of you who are interested in seeing some of our southern California pelagic winter visitors and early returning specialty nesters. Late winter moving into spring can also bring in some potential migrants and vagrants! This is the trip everyone has been waiting for.

The basics of the trip:

Who: Island Packers - www.IslandPackers.com - (805)-642-1393
What: 9hr +/- wildlife trip near Anacapa and to Santa Cruz Island. Highlights include a chance to look for the endemic Island Scub-Jay and do some pelagic birding! Birds are our focus but Seals, Sea Lions, Whales, and Dolphin are very likely too.
When: Feb 21st 2015. Departs 8 am returns 5 pm.
Where: Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard, Ca
Why: To see birds and marine mammals with some beautiful islands as our background.
Price: $80 (low price + low number of passengers allowed = book ASAP if you can)
Vessel: Vanguard 64’ monohull USCG inspected and licensed vessel with USCG licensed crew, a galley with snacks and drinks, beer and wine, and microwave ready foods. Or bring your own food and drink, we don’t mind! (Alcoholic beverages must be served by the crew though). We have two restrooms on board. This boat is a favorite for wildlife viewing by all the Crew at Island Packers because it has ample room for everyone along the railing and a superb upper deck viewing area for those who like the extra length of horizon that loftier elevations offer. We go slower (10-15 knots) but we see MORE. This trip is not trying to get to the continental shelf so we can afford to go slow and soak up the sights, sounds, smells, and birds.

All of Island Packers boats have a galley and restrooms on board with friendly and knowledgeable crew. Island Packers has a terrific safety record and has been running boats in the Santa Barbara Channel since 1968!
Book your trip at www.IslandPackers.com. In the upper right of the page is a box advertising this trip. Click the link. Then scroll down to the bottom of the page and click to book. On the booking page click the "Special Trips" tab to find the Feb 21st date. If you prefer talking to someone call us with questions or make a reservation at this number (805)-642-1393

If you are ready to book, read no further. If you need more info here is perhaps more than you wanted to know!

Our lovely voyage departs Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard at 8 am (check in between 7-7:30 am) to ply the waters of the Santa Barbara Channel and the deep waters of the Hueneme canyon. Later we will be taking in up close views of the spectacular Anacapa Arch while we search this ripe area for rare Brown, or Blue-footed Boobies that have shown up in the past couple of years. Anacapa also has been a great place to seek out American Oystercatchers albeit from a distance. Some of the birds that will just be starting their nesting season will be: Brown Pelicans, Western Gulls, Brandt’s, Pelagic, and Double-crested Cormorants, Pigeon Guillemots, Scripps’s Murrelets, Cassin’s Auklets, Ashy Storm Petrels (nocturnal at nesting sites), and possibly the local pairs of Peregrine Falcons and Bald Eagles.

After Anacapa we motor through the Anacapa Passage separating the aforementioned island from Santa Cruz Island, home of the Island Scrub-Jay. Breezing past some beautiful scenery we will arrive at Prisoner’s Harbor where we will disembark for a time to look for, and hopefully at, an Island Scrub-Jay or two. (BTW this is the only place in the world to see them) Note: Island Scrub-Jays are plentiful at this location but it can sometimes take an hour or two to find a confiding bird (for epic photos). Sightings are not guaranteed but are highly likely. We would budget and hour or two to allow everyone an opportunity to find this bird who would like to try. There is also good land birding at this location, 220+ species over the years and six localized endemic subspecies might be seen (Bewick’s Wren, Orange-crowned Warbler, Allen’s Hummingbird, Horned Lark, Loggerhead Shrike, and Rufous-crowned Sparrow. If you prize more than just birds there are nearly 150 endemic species in the Channel Islands National Park and sometimes the cute little endemic Island Fox will show up here and various endemic plants grow nearby.

With the time left in the afternoon we will put the wind at our back for a generally smooth ride to the mainland. However, we will scour our path through the Santa Barbara Channel for some of the spectacular wildlife seen most days such as whales, dolphin, seals, sea lions, and of course BIRDS!

I would expect the chances of seeing these birds could be described as Good: in Feb-March

Northern Fulmar
Black-vented Shearwater
Pomarine Jaeger
Parasitic Jaeger
Common Murre (local breeder)
Cassin’s Auklet (local breeder)
Rhinoceros Auklet (uncommon local breeder)
Common, Pacific, and Red-throated Loons
Grebes of various types
Surf Scoters (White-winged, Black, as well as Long-tailed duck are somewhat rare this far south)
Black Oystercatchers (local breeder)

A fair shot at seeing these but numbers will be on the low end and could be missed if one was not a diligent observer:

Black-legged Kittiwake
Sooty Shearwater
Pink Footed Shearwater
Red Phalarope
Pigeon Guillemot (starting in March they are a common-local breeder)
Scripps’s Murrelet (pairs are already showing up in the Channel)

Each one of these birds is a long shot but possible and would definitely be a Trip highlight IF seen:

Manx Shearwater
Flesh-footed Shearwater
Short-tailed Shearwater
Ancient Murrelet
Tufted Puffin
Fork-tailed Storm-petrel (or any other Storm-petrel for that matter)
PLUS who knows!... the ocean is still a mysterious place, even our near coastal waters.
Book your trip at www.IslandPackers.com. If you prefer talking to someone call us with questions or make a reservation at this number (805)-642-1393 it is only $80 and space is very limited.

See you on the boat,
Joel Barrett
Saw this but probably won't make it.

Anyone have any tips on Channel Island specialties not just birds? Wouldn't mind seeing fox and Avalon scrub-hairstreak (Santa Catalina) while there.

I heard Prisoner's Harbour is the best spot for scrub-jays?
We certainly had good luck in October at Prisoner's Harbour - one of the crew offered a guided tour which was excellent. Several Scrub-Jays, one of them landing in the bush just behind me. 1 Island Fox seen well, local and migrant OC warbler, etc. Some of the local lizards as well. Sailing over produced a peregrine, good number of pelagic birds, and the high point was Fin Whale.

Yes, among the two Santa Cruz harbors (Scorpion and Prisoner's), Prisoner's is the best one for the Island Scrub-Jay. The Island Foxes are quite ballsy and tend to walk around the camp grounds like big fat squirrels.

A good amount of information about the Channel Islands can be found here:

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