North American Birds

VOLUME 69 NO3 2016

A Quarterly Journal of Ornithological Record Published by the American Birding Association. The mission of the journal is to provide a complete overview of the changing panorama of our continent’s birdlife.

Issue link: http://nab.aba.org/i/778845

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319 V O L U M E 6 9 ( 2 0 1 6 ) • N U M B E R S 3 / 4 P E L A G I C B I R D S F R O M C R U I S E S H I P S A LO N G T H E PA C I F I C C O A S T km offshore (Figure 4). Most daylight off- shore is spent in northwestern California, Oregon, and British Columbia waters, with typically only very limited daylight spent off Washington and in true pelagic waters off southeastern Alaska. • Alaska "Inside Passage" one-way and round-trip cruises of approximately one- week duration are offered by multiple cruise lines throughout the spring, sum - mer, and early fall between Seattle or Van- couver and southeastern or south-central Alaska. Most of these trips spend almost all of their time in inshore, protected wa - ters, but some itineraries provide for good offshore opportunities at least in British Columbia waters, and some spend much of one day in the open Gulf of Alaska (not covered by this paper). Since 2005, most birders have taken the short Pacific Coastals between California and southern British Columbia in both spring (mid-April to mid-May) and fall (mid-Sep- tember to early October), and much of the data in this paper were obtained from these trips. Prior to about 2012, birders were on board for perhaps two or three such trips an- nually; but since that time the number has grown to several sailings each spring and one or two every fall. Pacific Coastal departures at other times of the year are rare to non- existent. Nevertheless, the few off-season trips provide for excellent opportunities to gather data at times when regular pelagic trips are rare or unable to venture this far offshore. In the period 2012-2016, there were several sailings from the beginning of March through early April and between mid- October and mid-December, producing very interesting results. Fewer observers have taken the San Fran- cisco to Alaska round-trips. Prior to 2013, only two of these sailings were ever sur- veyed. Since then birders have joined from one to three trips per year, mostly during the late spring and early summer. There has been only limited coverage between mid- summer and the final sailing in early au - tumn, however. Which specific stretches of ocean are tra- versed during daylight hours on all cruises depends on the ports chosen, departure time (most trips leave in late afternoon), whether or not there is a half-day stop in Victoria (or Astoria), and the speed of the ship and how ocean conditions may affect that speed. Not covered by this paper are the popular, one-week, one-way "Inside Passage" cruises offered by many cruise lines between Vancou - companies, throughout the late spring and summer and offer over four full days off - shore. (Trips visiting Glacier Bay provide for a bonus of excellent inner-waters bird - ing.). The northbound leg is direct from San Francisco to Alaska, thus the ship travels up to 300 km offshore; the south - bound leg follows more of a traditional "repositioning cruise" routing some 35-90 Holland America Line in or out of San Di - ego. These trips typically provide for two full days—more rarely almost three days— offshore, much of them some 40-90 km offshore (Figure 3). Other cruise lines may offer similar itineraries. • San Francisco to southeastern Alaska 10-day round-trip cruises are offered by Princess Cruises, occasionally by other Figure 4. Typical trip-track for the Princess Cruises ten-day San Francisco to southeastern Alaska round-trip cruises, showing average route traversed during daylight hours. This trip covers waters ranging from protected inshore to deep, far offshore. Some variation from trip to trip in the waters covered during daylight results not only from those factors mentioned with Pacific Coastal cruises but also from variation in the routing and ports chosen. Note that offshore Washington and Alaska waters receive very limited daylight coverage versus those off northern California, Oregon, and British Columbia. Track by Michael Harrison.

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