Searcher assists with Museum Research Goals

Hello whalewatchers and Baja fans!

We were happy to assist scientists from Mexico and San Diego Natural History Museum on a 2018 research expedition to the islands in the southern Sea of Cortez, Searcher‘s stomping grounds every spring!  The trip was a big success and is a key feature in the organization’s annual report.

Check it out here: Sea of Cortez research trip

December 23rd, 2019|News|

2019 Pelagic Birding Tour (September 2-6)

Hello all,

We’ve had another tremendous day offshore.We started 15 miles west of the Cotez Bank area and had multiple sightings of Cook’s petrels (photo from a previous trip), albatross, shearwaters and storm petrels, and a single red-billed tropicbird, all before 9 am!  We traveled out along the drop off on the southern edge of the Cortez Bank, and then decided to head southeast towards the 60-mile bank with hopes of seeing Guadalupe murrelets. We were not disappointed. We came across a pair on the water close to the Cortez. Everyone had a great look and we celebrated finding this rare bird in this area. That made for many “life birds” to go around for the group.

We ended the trip anchored on the 60-mile bank while Dave Povey used the last of the fish oil and parts and attracted 8 black-footed albatross. We all agree it was a very successful pelagic birding trip and great job by the leaders!

Arriving in San Diego tomorrow morning.

Capt Art and Team Searcher

September 5th, 2019|Trip Reports|

2019 Pelagic Birding Tour (September 2-6)

Hello all,

We’ve enjoyed a tremendous day offshore in deep water today! We left San Miguel Island after breakfast and it didn’t take long for three black-footed albatross to join us and stay for a while. Then loads of sooty and pink-footed shearwaters arrived, followed by Buller’s shearwaters. We had albatross behind the boat for almost the entire day.

We saw a few lue whales but were mostly able to just view their blows due to windy conditions. The storm petrel watching was really good. Leader Dave Povey kept a fish oil slick behind the boat all day, so we attracted loads of them. The highlight was a Townsend’s storm petrel which is a bird that one customer needed to make his list an even 700 species in the U.S. Quite an accomplishment!

Leach’s, Wilson’s, black and ashy storm petrels were added to the list of storm petrels. We encountered a few more blue whales and then we arrived on the San Juan Seamount. This is  is a shallow that comes up to 1800 feet of water out of 12,000 feet depth. It can be a very productive spot located 190 miles west of San Diego.

The San Juan Seamount did not disappoint–we had our first look at a Cook’s petrel. This a bird we all hope to see on this trip. We saw multiple Cook’s in the area along with Bullers, sooty and pink-footed shearwaters. Albatross found us as well. We were treated with a red-billed tropicbird and then at the end of the day, a Nazca booby flew right over the boat.

We are looking forward to tomorrow!

Capt Art and Team Searcher

September 5th, 2019|Trip Reports|

2019 Pelagic Birding Tour (September 2-6)

Hello all,

We started our day at Santa Barbara with some poor conditions for visibility. We had some heavy fog so it was difficult to get a look at the booby colony. There were some in flight and we got a brief sighting of a Nazca booby, but not quite what we had hoped for. Eventually the fog cleared as we travelled west on a temperature break and enjoyed periods of good visibility.

Pink-footed shearwater photo from a previous trip @ Todd McGrath

We saw more sooty and pink-footed shearwaters, jaegers and Sabine’s gulls, a couple of large flocks of ashy storm petrels and a few black storm petrels mixed in. We came across six minke whales (click for more details and photos) and in the afternoon we saw two orcas: one female and one large male with a tall dorsal fin. They had just fed on something which produced a large slick on the surface and there was lots of birds there including gulls, shearwaters, jaegers and storm petrels. It was exciting for awhile! We are headed northwest to San Miguel Island for the night and headed offshore in deep water for tomorrow.

Capt Art and Team Searcher

September 4th, 2019|Trip Reports|

2019 Pelagic Birding Tour (September 2-6)

Hello birders,

We departed on our annual pelagic bird watching trip today, Labor Day Monday. We started by heading west to the 30-mile Bank and then up the ridge to the northwest. We spotted large numbers of black-vented and pink-footed shearwaters, with a few sooty shearwaters mixed in. Also had good looks at Craveri’s murrelets close to the boat in calm conditions. There were a few jaegers, phalaropes, and storm petrels throughout the day as well.

Craveris murrelet @ McGrath, taken on a previous Searcher pelagic

For the marine mammals, we had a great look at a Bryde’s whale close to the boat and a small group of 100 common dolphins. Then a quick look at a sunfish too.

We were lucky to have calm conditions all day. We are headed west to Santa Barbara Island for a look at boobies in the morning.

Capt Art and Team Searcher

September 2nd, 2019|Trip Reports|

2019 Pelagic Birding Tour (September 2-6)

Sunday, September 1

Many birders arrived to town early enough to attend the pre-trip presentation, offered by leader Todd McGrath, on the variety of species we expect to find..fingers crossed for a rarity. Tour begins on Monday!

“Seabirders will spend 5 days in deep waters of the US from San Diego to Channel Islands! Seabirds, marine mammals, fish and sharks…they have time to observe it all!”

From September 2-6, 2019 Pelagic Birding Tour. Posted by Searcher Natural History Tours on 9/02/2019 (12 items)

Generated by Facebook Photo Fetcher 2

September 2nd, 2019|Trip Reports|

2019 Pelagic Birding Tour departs on Labor Day Monday (9/2)!




There’s always time to appreciate dolphins too! From 2018 Pelagic Birding Tour

We’re looking forward to welcoming our group of birders and leaders this weekend to access the deep-water areas of the ABA birding zone, to search out the specialties of our region and maybe a rarity or two!

One leader joining us this year is Adam Searcy and we are happy to have him back aboard for 2019. Check out his bio below and stay tuned to this space for sightings reports from the field during the trip from Sept 2-6.








Adam Searcy is a biologist with interests in bird censusing techniques and methodologies, changes in status and distribution (with a keen interest in historical ecology), and the never-ending challenges presented by field identification. His interests and experience include work with native plants, fishes, and California’s herpetofauna.  He’s done field work in many of California’s myriad habitats, including offshore waters and most of the islands.

Adam is currently working as an independent consultant and at the WFVZ, a large avian collection (museum) in southern California.  He is also working on a comprehensive status and distribution of the birds of Ventura County, CA, and has dreams of writing a natural history of the county.

He is a member of the CBRC, an active editor of eBird records, and is very interested in citizen science initiatives, especially when they strengthen the social conservation ethic and generate public interest in the natural world.

August 27th, 2019|News|

“An outstanding and never-to-be-forgotten experience on Searcher!”

Happy wildlife watchers, happy crew, happy leaders and happy crew!

May 20th, 2019|News|

Tour #5 (Apr 8-15, 2019) – Sea of Cortez

Hello whalewatchers,
Our final day of the 2019 natural history tour season was tremendous! We enjoyed great ocean conditions with light winds, calm seas and sunny skies. We had terrific humpback whalewatching, with several humpbacks in the Gorda Banks area. There were trios, cows with calves, and groups of five whales. Since the sea was also very clear, we had excellent views of these humpback whalewatching. They were showing all the behaviors too, like fluking and leaping, which is always great for photography. We also saw a large group of bottlenose dolphin.
We travelled north east to Bahia Los Frailes and the group went ashore for a beach walk and birdwatching. After the walk there was a snorkel session in warm clean water and lots of reef fishes. Everyone enjoyed the afternoon activities.
We ended the day with a lovely sunset, margaritas and a back deck buffet with BBQ ribs, coleslaw, cornbread, mac and cheese, and banana bread.
It was another successful trip with happy clients and great whalewatching.

The entire 2019 season was great, and as usual, it went by very quickly. The sightings throughout the season were tremendous, as were our wonderful passengers. Thank you for joining us on your Baja adventure! Stay tuned to 2020.

Capt Art and Team Searcher

April 22nd, 2019|Trip Reports|

Tour #5 (Apr 8-15, 2019) – offshore Bahia Magdalena

Hello whalewatchers:

We’re checking in with a mid-day report of whales! We are off of Bahia Magdalena and have seen humpback whales, common dolphins and lots of birds, such as pink-footed and sooty shearwaters, frigate bird, Sabines gulls, and black storm petrels. We’re looking forward to the rest of today.

Capt Art and Team Searcher

Hello whalewatchers,

After lunch we spent three hours with blue whales outside the entrance to Bahia Magdalena! It was great whalewatching with six blue whales all within a 2-mile area. Most of the whales surfaced frequently so we could keep track of them easily. One whale came close to fluking every time –we did get a great look at its fluke! Lots of life in the area with 1500-2000 common dolphins lots of birds such as shearwaters, terns, gulls and a single black-footed albatross. It was an eventful afternoon!

Capt Art and Team Searcher

April 14th, 2019|Trip Reports|

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