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Humpback Whale (Peter Dunn)

Baja California & the Sea of Cortez

Peter Dunn
By Peter Dunn
Tour Leader and Report Manager
20th April 2020

Wherever you go on a wildlife holiday, you are at the mercy of the weather, so groups and their leaders must be resilient and have contingency plans for when weather systems intervene. This was particularly true for this Baja tour and cruise.

Before our arrival, we had heard that San Diego was experiencing nice warm weather. However, on the day we had scheduled our bird walk, the rain clouds gathered and at breakfast we witnessed a sudden downpour. Were we downhearted? No – we ventured out in light drizzle to witness some warbler action, which usually increases after rain. Townsend’s, Orange-crowned and Audubon’s Warblers fed hungrily in the seafront trees. From this point the weather improved, with sporadic showers giving way to warm sunshine by the end the day, as we boarded the Searcher for our amazing trip.

The whole tour was managed superbly by the captain and the crew of Searcher and the two naturalists. When the wind got too strong, we sheltered or moved on, but we managed all the highlights apart from the Whale Sharks. However, missing the latter was quickly forgotten when we witnessed 20+ Sperm Whales, logging on the surface for two hours in peaceful water. Even better were 15+ Blue Whales feeding loosely together for three hours, some regularly side-lunging at the surface, showing their huge pleated throats and stubby pectoral fins. Neither naturalist on board had seen this behaviour by so many, for so long a period of time!

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Blue Whale (Peter Dunn)

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Watching Blue Whales (Peter Dunn)

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Sperm Whale fluke (Peter Dunn)

Add to this, stroking baby Grey Whales, a racing ‘super-pod’ of about 1,000 Long-beaked Common Dolphins storming into the boat’s wake, more Guadalupe Fur Seals than we have ever recorded here, including a new ‘haul-out’ in the Gulf of California and squabbling Northern Elephant Seals on San Benito Island – the mammal-watchers were well satisfied!

The birders were not left out – endemic Xantus’s Hummingbirds, Grey Thrashers and Belding’s Yellowthroats were all seen well, and at sea 10+ Black-footed and 3+ Laysan Albatrosses were exciting, with a final tour total of 164 species.

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Long-beaked Common Dolphins (Peter Dunn)

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Black-footed Albatross (Peter Dunn)

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Guadelupe Fur Seals (Peter Dunn)

This was one of the best tours I have had the privilege to lead, even in the face of some untypical Baja weather.

Our next ‘Baja California & Sea of Cortez’ holiday departs on 6th February 2021, prices start at £6,495. For more information please click on the link above, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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