From the National Geographic Sea Bird in Baja California
Feb 5, 2013 - National Geographic Sea Bird
Gorda Banks & San Jose del Cabo
Overnight, National Geographic Sea Bird cruised south and crossed the Tropic of Cancer into the Tropic Zone. We started to round the broad tip of the Baja California Peninsula. The sea was quite placid and conditions were ripe for the legendary “green flash.” A few attentive observers out on deck witnessed first a tinge of blue and then a rim of green as the sun peeked over the eastern horizon. Now we were ready to get down to the business of spotting humpback whales that come to this area for the winter months. They showed up just about breakfast time and didn’t stop until lunch was served. It was a great show of breaching, fin-slapping, and close passes by the ship! They provided many photo challenges and a lot of time and opportunity to practice with our cameras.
During lunch the ship docked in a small, quiet marina near San Jose del Cabo, to the east of bustling Cabo San Lucas. Our options for the afternoon involved traveling a short distance by motor coach to the San Jose River estuary for bird watching and/or a visit to the “Old Town,” including a glass-blowing art shop. The birders were successful with a diversity of species—ducks, ibis, herons, osprey, and two endemics—Xantus’ hummingbird and gray thrasher. The weather was very pleasant, which made for a very enjoyable time.
When everyone was back on board, the National Geographic Sea Bird departed the dock and headed for the southernmost tip of the peninsula—Land’s End—where the spectacularly-eroded granodioritic spine of the peninsula is dramatically exposed. While observing the iconic sea arch, a barking sound drew our attention to a low rock where a group of California sea lions was hauled out. A cloud of magnificent frigatebirds circled above the outermost rocky block, preparing to settle for the night. Brown pelicans, Brandt’s cormorants, brown boobies, and a lone masked booby all kept company here and made for quite a spectacle as our ship passed into the Pacific Ocean proper and turned to the north toward further adventures.