“I’m surrounded by storm-petrels!” I said as I watched another fork-tailed wave swallow pass underneath me.
“I’m heading down”, Dickcissel said, “don’t go anywhere!”
I had been reading about the continuing fork-tailed storm-petrels that were being seen at the Pacifica Municipal Pier and figured I’d make a jaunt out to the coast after work to see these pelagic delights from another pier in another country: San Mateo.
So while I waited for Dickcissel to head south from Marinland, I pulled out my camp chair, my sketch book, and my pen case and sat on the beach and sketched the pier.
It could be a scene from a Film Noir but no, it’s just Pacifica Pier.
From my vantage point, the “L” shaped concrete pier is not much to look at. The “Rev. Herschell Harkins Memorial Pacifica Pier”, as it is officially known, was built in 1973 as part of the city’s sewage system where a pipe pumped sewage (treated I hope) out into the Pacific Ocean. It now primarily is used as a fishing pier but today it was used by birders as a quasi-pelagic platform that juts out a a quarter mile into the Pacific. This pier is much shorter and certainly less interesting than the Santa Cruz but it provided outstanding looks at the storm-petrels.
A storm-petrel flying below me on the Pacifica Municipal Pier.
Instead of seeing three FTSPs from a great distance, I was now surrounded by about 20. They were on all sides of the pier and frequently flew underneath the pier giving unique views that would be impossible on a pelagic boat trip. I figured that this experience may come once in a lifetime and felt lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
Sketching the low flight path of fork-tailed storm-petels.
Field sketch from the Pacifica Pier. Just sketching these storm-petrels helps me understand and see them more fully.