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Trips to the Coronado Islands, April and May 1924

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Field Notes April 1924
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L.M. Huey Field Notes
Trip to the Coronado Islands, April 1924

Huey lists birds, describes behaviors, counts populations, tries to take photos.

Saturday, April 19, 1924

In company with Mr. Hoffman, Mr. Scott and Mr. Gallegos, I left the municipal pier about 8:30 A. M., bound for a short trip to the Coronado Islands. The day was one of glorious splendor, with hardly a zephyr to stir the surface of the sea. Both Surf and White-winged Scoters were seen in mixed flocks in the harbor and a single Caspian Tern was observed near Roseville. Stopping at the Yacht Club pier, we took Mr. Sefton’s skiff "Tommy" in tow for use around the islands.

Arriving at the North Island at 12:45, we pitched camp on the rocky shore above the breaker line and were soon all scattered through the bird rookeries. Thousands of Gulls (Larus occidentalis livens) heralded our coming, circling gracefully overhead, although at heart they had evil intentions, for well they knew that when we visited the Pelican and Cormorant rookeries, they would get their fill of young and eggs.

I found that almost the entire Pelican population had moved from the old rookeries in the middle of the island to the north end where the locality seemed better suited, for there was not so much cactus to injure the wandering young. The Farallon Cormorants had also moved with them in fact nearly the entire population had changed nesting places, for later I found that even the Brandts were occupying the cliffs below. I could not determine the reason for the move as the pelicans seemed still to remain in their same abundance of about 750 pairs although the Farallon Cormorants have been reduced about 75% of their 1916 population. This fact is no doubt due to their being disturbed by pleasure parties who visit the island during April and May, allowing the gulls to destroy their eggs & small young.

It is my estimate that less than 200 pairs of this species are to be found on the island this year.

I had never been among the Brandts in former years so I could not place an estimate on them but they now will outnumber the Farallons.

When arriving at camp in the late afternoon I had a pleasant half hour watching Brandts Cormorants diving for nesting material. This species, quite different from the Farallons, use seaweed for their nests and pluck it from the depth of the sea. Taking the air Cormorant fashion, their load so burdens them that they have to fly downwind until well above the water, then turn back or upwind to get elevation to reach their nests.

After dark I lit the gas lantern & about 7:30 Petrels began coming in. After many swings I finally caught one in the dip net.

The night being bright with a full moon, the gulls & pelicans were active until I fell asleep, which was after 10:30 p.m. and in the morning Mr. Hoffman said he had heard them most of the night.

A herd of Zelophus had taken up their quarters in a nearby cove and the night was made hideous with their noise, keeping part of us awake the greater part of the night. A heavy high fog came up very early in the morning which vexed me terribly on account of [its causing] poor photographic light.

April 19 | April 20-21 | April 22-24