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Trips to the Coronado Islands, April and May 1924

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

On duck hawks,* rattlesnakes and murrelets.

Sunday, May 25th 1924

In company of Mr. Gallegos & Mr. Van Rossem I left the municipal pier about 10 a.m. [orig. p.m.] on board the Mexican Patrol boat Tecate bound for a 5 day trip to the Coronado Islands.

Stopping at Roseville we picked up Mr. Sefton’s skiff. The tide was at its lowest ebb and we hadn’t gone a great distance before striking a mud bar. Here we stayed for about half an hour waiting for the tide to rise.

An uneventful trip brought us to South Island, where, after a fine lunch served on board the ship while the sailors put our stuff on shore, we established camp.

Later we all put out searching for murrelets on the east side of the island.

I found two murrelets incubating nests while Van found several single eggs and 3 birds with sets. On the trail near camp he picked up the dried headless carcass of a Black throated Gray Warbler and a Western Flycatcher. These birds had no doubt been killed by duck hawks.

Monday, May 26th 1924

We made an early start for Little Middle Island where, as we were about to land a Rhinocerus Auklet was seen swimming near the island. Van shot it and gave it to Jose.

A pair of Black Oyster catchers were seen flying about.

We started operations by going to the large cave on the south end where to our amazement we found the place absolutely stripped of sets. Someone had beat us to it.

Returning to the top we searched carefully for Black Petrels. Two were located in rock crevices, tho only one was obtainable. This bird was having a nice fresh egg.

I found a single unattended murrelet egg in a crevice near the top of the island while Van located a bird on two pipped eggs under a pile of boulders.

Returning to the Socorro Petrel colony we searched carefully for inhabited burrows but none could be found tho abundant activities of these birds was found in the shape of newly started burrows. I found a pair of very anxious San Clemente Song Sparrows inhabiting a patch of bushes on the north side of the island. A half hour watch revealed the nest which contained two newly hatched young.

Every place we searched had been recently explored by other parties so after an hour or two we tired and started for camp. After lunch Van & I went across the cove to search for murrelets. We spent the entire afternoon climbing about the precipitous slope without finding a single murrelet. The only exciting event of the afternoon was when Van stepped directly over a coiled rattlesnake that was not observed until I called his attention to it a few moments later.

I located an inaccessible Rock wren’s nest.

While ambling around over the rocks I found the remnants of a Western Robin that had been killed by Duck Hawks during the winter.

* By 1970, duck hawks no longer inhabited the island (Ellsberg, "Los Coronados Islands", 1970; Pentis, "A Marine Guide to the Coronado Islands", 1977).

May 25-26 | May 27-28 | May 29