Word spread quickly that a MASKED BOOBY was found on the Dana Point breakwater in Orange County. In true rarity chasing fashion, I loaded my gear in the car and we were on our way. Normally it would be a 1 hour drive but an accident on the 405 made it more like a 2 hour drive. Rain and a waning sun in the horizon didn’t keep my hopes high for a decent photo. That combined with the fact the bird was being observed on a jetty 200 yards from shore…
Upon arriving, we bumped into Steve and Becky Turley and Jim Pike who were looking for the bird in their scopes. Being a photographer, I never carry a scope. If I can’t get decent photos with a 500mm lens then I’d rather not have any at all! I researched a few boat rental places before I left so I headed over to Embarcadero Marina to see if I could rent a small skiff at the rate of $50/hr. I figured that was well worth the investment to get close enough to the bird. Much to my chagrin, the boat rentals were closed due to a red flag advisory for small craft. I begged them but their insurance policy wouldn’t allow it.
So…being in a boat marina, I figured I’d ask the locals if they’d take me out to the bird for $50. I was in luck. I found Georgie and John Moore from Fallbrook that had a small dingy attached to their yacht. They were more than happy to take us close to the bird and refused any payment! It’s truly rewarding when you encounter such gracious people like that in this world.
Oh, and yes. I did get some amazing photos of the Booby.
There are only 15 or so previous records of Masked Boobies in California. This sub-adult bird was a bit far from his normal breeding range in the central and western Pacific, around Australia, as well as off Mexico and on Clipperton Island.