The Blue-footed Booby is a rare visitor to the coast of California and is more commonly seen down in the Gulf of California or the Galapagos. The Blue-footed Booby is native to the warmer waters of Mexico and can be found along coasts as far south as Peru.
In mid-September 2013 they had been reported on the Southern California coast and making their way up north in unprecedented numbers, being reported as far as Bodega Bay north of San Francisco. In addition they had been reported at Patagonia Lake in South-east Arizona and the Salton Sea in southern California.
Apparently scientists aren’t sure yet why the boobies have moved this far north. Some have speculated it could be connected to food supply issues in their usual territory but others have said it may be difficult to find the exact cause. Most of the Blue-footed Boobies in California seem to be juveniles that haven’t yet developed the bright blue feet of the adult birds.
As Yvonne and I were travelling to the California in late September I was hoping that they would stay around long enough for us to see them.
After a few near misses at Monterey Bay and Ventura, we had a second pelagic planned, which was a 12 hour trip leaving Ventura Harbour on 12 October. Ventura is located on the coast of California a couple of hours drive north of Los Angeles.
Leaving the harbour at sunrise, we stopped for the Brown Booby on marker number 3 at the harbour entrance. This is another rare booby which whilst seen on a regular basis around San Diego County, is rarely seen further north.
|Ventura Harbour at Dawn|
We then headed over to Anacapa Island which is one of the islands forming part of the Channel Islands. These islands have the endemic Island Scrub-jay and Island Fox, both of which we saw in late September on Santa Cruz Island. At Anacapa Island we saw seven or eight Blue-footed Booby, both on the island and in flight near to the boat.
|Blue-footed Booby amongst Brandt's Cormorants|
|Blue-footed Booby (juvenile) - note white breast|
|Blue-footed Booby- note dark bar on underwing|
Other nice birds seen on the pelagic trip included Northern Fulmar, Buller's Shearwater (uncommon), Black-vented Shearwater, Pink-footed Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Arctic Tern, Royal Tern, Black Oystercatcher, American Oystercatcher, Cassin's Auklet, Black Storm-Petrel, Red-necked Phalarope and four Jaeger or Skua species (Parasitic, Pomarine, Long-tailed and South Polar).