Fall Pelagic Itinerary
This is the itinerary for Vancouver to Los Angeles cruises. For Los Angeles to Vancouver, simply switch the California part of the itinerary with the Vancouver one.
Arrive in Vancouver. We’ll have this as a leisurely day around Vancouver while awaiting everyone’s arrival. If we have time in the afternoon, evening, we may hit a few places around the outskirts of town, before dinner.
We’ll catch an early ferry to Vancouver Island where we’ll spend some time looking for the introduced population of Eurasian Skylarks. We’ll also spend some time birding on the island at some of the local hotspots. We may have some time in the afternoon to go birding around Vancouver as well. Fall migrants at this time of year should be at their peak, and large numbers of geese use the Vancouver area as a stopover along their flight south. Our targets for the day will be west coast specialties such as Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Vaux’s Swift, Northwestern Crow, Glaucous-winged Gull, Mew Gull, California Gull, Bewick’s Wren, Bushtit, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Pacific Wren, Harlequin Duck, and others. Depending on where we go, we may have a chance at shorebirds such as Marbled and Hudsonian Godwits, Western Sandpiper, Black Turnstone, Black Oystercatcher, Wandering Tattler, and perhaps Pacific Golden-plover among others. We’ll return to Vancouver on the last evening ferry.
These days will be spent aboard the 951ft long cruise ship The Ruby Princess. We will spend the majority of the day scoping for seabirds from the bow or side deck of the ship for the many deep-water pelagic possibilities. Most of the time, we will be as much as 40 or 50 miles offshore. The ship does around 20kts while at sea, so most seabirds seen will be flybys at a distance. Birding is difficult and scopes are required, but with some luck, we’ll all get looks at most things. Seabird possibilities at this time of year are endless. Possibilities include Rhinoceros Auklet, Pigeon Guillemot, Common Murre, Black-footed Albatross, Pink-footed, Buller’s, Sooty, Short-tailed, Black-vented and Flesh-footed Shearwaters, Fork-tailed, Black, Ashy, Wilson’s and Leach’s Storm-petrels, Cook’s, Murphy’s and maybe Hawaiian Petrels, Northern Fulmar, all four Skuas, perhaps Ancient or Marbled Murrelets, Tufted Puffin, Black-legged Kittiwake, Sabine’s Gull, Pacific Loon, Arctic Tern, Red-necked and Red Phalaropes, perhaps a Scripp’s, Craveri’s or Guadalupe Murrelet, and maybe a Laysan or Wandering Albatross if we’re lucky!
We’ll spend this day hitting L.A. and Orange-county hotspots. We will visit a diverse range of habitats, from coastal, to inland chaparral, tidal flats, rocky beach, etc. This should give us a good range of species to choose from. Targets for our time in California will be the SoCal specialties and whatever migrants we can find. California Thrasher, California Quail, California Gnatcatcher, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Wrentit, Elegant Tern, Snowy Plover, Hutton’s Vireo, Allen’s Hummingbird, Cinnamon Teal, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Say’s Phoebe,Hermit Warbler, Townsend’s Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Oak Titmouse, Scaly-breasted Munia, Pin-tailed Whydah, Orange-cheeked Waxbill, maybe some time for Red-whiskered Bulbul, and many other possibilities.
We’ll head to the coast and catch the ferry to Santa Cruz island for the endemic Island Scrub-jay. We’ll also look for the endemic subspecies of Loggerhead Shrike and Red Fox. This ferry trip will give us another chance at Scripp’s Murrelet as well.
Late afternoon, we’ll spend a little time looking for Yellow-billed Magpie.
We’ll spend this day birding up in the mountains looking for mountain specialties. Mountain Quail, White-headed Woodpecker, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Red-naped Sapsucker, among others, and maybe another pass for Yellow-billed Magpie if we have time.
We’ll have a little bit of time in the morning to go birding again before heading to the airport to catch flights home.