Musings on Shearwaters:
Each species of Shearwater has it's own charms, its own personality, a reason to love them. Sootys are by far the most abundant seabird off California; this very fact attracts me to them. On most days in the summer or fall, if you look just offshore, you'll probably see one. They're dressed smartly in black, and fly by more quickly than the others. Pink-foots are large, deliberate, a working-man's Shearwater; they're also one of the largest and most variable Shearwaters, you have to know them well in order to find something rare. Black-vents are like hyperactive, faster versions of Pink-foots in miniature. Manx Shearwaters, like Black-vents, are smaller than most other California Shearwaters, and are rare enough that you can count yourself lucky just to catch a glimpse of one. Flesh-foots, the largest, bulkiest Shearwater generally seen in California waters, have their own charm, probably stemming from the fact that they're generally found over deeper, wilder waters than other Shearwaters, and they're also uncommon enough that if you see one, you're generally having a good day.
But Buller's Shearwater, they're something else. Strictly a bird of the Fall, Buller's are the most graceful and elegant of the Shearwaters, a study in gray and black. They are my favorite of all the Shearwaters.