Day 3 (Oct 6th) - Our third day started out just like the day before, with strong east winds, warm temperatures, and greater than 60 miles of visibility. Although these winds did not bring us a big bird wave, a few new arrivals visited us to keep the day interesting. Surprisingly, this weather brought out four Barn Owls, which were found roosting in the three trees around our houses. Historically, Barn Owls used to be quite rare, but their numbers have increased by 310%. in the past 15 years. During this increase, we have documented numerous Cassin's Auklets and other breeding seabirds that have been killed by the Barn Owls. Other western migrants included Tree Swallow, Pacific Wren, Vesper Sparrow, and Lark Sparrow. These winds also brought us our best day of the fall for East Coast warbler diversity, with just one Western Palm Warbler, one Blackpoll Warbler, and one Black-and-white Warbler. September typically brings us the East Coast warblers, but the wind and fog must have kept them away. A second Blue-footed Booby joined the one first seen on Day 1, which added another five points for being a CBRC bird. Our first shark point of the Farallonathon happened when Cameron Rutt spotted a shark surface off of Shubrick Point. At the end of the day our total had crept up to 145.
Only four points were added this day from the following sightings: a pair of Blue Whales seen far to the south from the lighthouse during a cetacean survey, one Pomarine Jaeger seen during the afternoon seawatch, and one Rock Pigeon and one Least Flycatcher seen during an area search. These four points brought our total up 149.
Day 5 (Oct 8th) - Strong northwest winds and clear skies meant that many birds departed and few arrived. Only one bird arrived that gave us a new point, an Aleutian Cackling Goose. It showed up behind our house extremely thirsty. We gave it a little water which it gratefully accepted. This was our only point for the day, so our paltry sum increased to 150.
Day 6 (Oct 9th) - Even stronger northwest winds gave most of the birds that were still on the island a nice tailwind for departure. No points were added this day, so our total remained at 150.
Day 7 (Oct 10th) - The dawn weather appeared more promising, with light winds out of the west, and the visibility down to just 5 miles. Sadly there were not many birds about. But then during the AM area search, Cameron spotted a Great Crested Flycatcher. Although there were 11 previous records for the island, this was the first since 1989! In addition, this species is on the CBRC review list, so it counted for five Farallonathon points! Other species this day that were new for the week were Killdeer, Parasitic Jaeger, South Polar Skua, Lapland Longspur, Wilson's Snipe, and Short-eared Owl.
In addition to birds, we found two new species of insects, a Familiar Bluet, which is a kind of migratory damselfly, and a Farallon Cricket, the only endemic species on the Farallon Islands.
Our final point was found at 9:30 on this last night of Farallonathon. The Farallon crew set out to find the only salamander on the island. Ironically, the name of this species, which occurs on an island with just 4 introduced trees, is the Arboreal Salamander. It is uncertain how this salamander got to the island, but it's possible that it came across the ocean on a log as has been documented in the San Francisco Bay (fide, Peter Pyle), or perhaps it was assisted by humans on a boat, or the species may have persisted here ever since the islands split away from the mainland millions of years ago.
With the 11 bird points (6 regular + 1 CBRC), 2 insect points, and 1 salamander point, our final total stood at 164 points. Compared to the previous 21 years of Farallonathons, this year ranked 13th. Despite our auspicious first day, poor subsequent weather and zero shark attacks meant we were doomed to have a low score. We hope you enjoyed hearing about our Farallonathon and support our cause for conservation. If so, please consider giving to the Farallon program at the following website: