#ABArare - Hawaiian Petrel - California
The West Coast's contribution to this past weekend's pelagic bonanza is a Hawaiian Petrel (Code 4) first spotted by Matthew Dodder during a pelagic trip run by Alvaro's Adventures out of Half Moon Bay, CA on Aug 25. Due to a lack of certainty of identification criteria, the ABA Checklist lists the species as Galapagos/Hawaiian Petrel, though it appears ABA Area records are all Hawaiian Petrels. Hawaiian and Galapagos Petrels were known as Dark-rumped Petrel prior to being split by the AOU in 2002.
Alvaro Jaramillo writes of the trip, "This trip would have been remarkable alone for the large number of Wilson's Storm-Petrel [at least 44], perhaps the largest number ever seen on a California pelagic. We have now confirmed that this is a first county [San Mateo] record for Hawaiian Petrel, and my guess is that California-wide there are probably about 20 records at this point. But that is a very ballpark figure. The thought is that August is the time to find them, and this bears out with what we saw. Also, we found our bird off the continental shelf in an area with a rather steep underwater drop-off. It came up behind the boat and was interested in the gulls, shearwaters and albatross that were behind us. Finally, it was tuna water, about 60 degrees which is hot for us, and a feature that only sometimes is accessible on a one-day trip from central California. This year is one of those years. Lucky for us!!" In addition, the trip found two Laysan Albatrosses.
These are interesting or scary times for pelagic birding depending on your view of taxonomic changes. You may have noticed a theme in the three #ABArare posts about pelagic birds from this past weekend: All have featured species that have recently been split or may be split in the near future: Trindade Petrel from Herald Petrel, Barolo Shearwater from Little Shearwater, and Hawaiian Petrel from Dark-rumped Petrel. Additionally, White-faced Storm-Petrel, Cory's Shearwater, Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, and Leach's Storm-Petrel also may be the subjects of splits down the road. Also, don't be too surprised if some of these species, such as Barolo Shearwater, Hawaiian Petrel, White-faced Storm-Petrel, become easier to see as we learn more about their distribution.