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BAJA CALIFORNIA: THE LAST KINGDOM OF THE WHALES

Wednesday 8th April - Wednesday 22nd April 2015

Mark Van Beirs

Grey Whale Calf (Mark Van Beirs)

Grey Whale Calf (Mark Van Beirs)

The heart-warming moments shared with the Grey Whale calves in the San Ignacio lagoon are without a doubt one of the finest natural history experiences any naturalist can hope to enjoy. Stroking, cuddling and touching a three ton wild animal that approaches you completely out of its free will is a truly magnificent event and every one of us was deeply touched by the unbelievable gentleness of these giants. We saw at least a dozen Blue Whales and meeting the largest creature that has ever lived on our planet at close range (it was as long as our boat) was really humbling. Fin Whales also showed very well on several occasions and who could forget the amazing encounters with the playful, acrobatic Humpbacks. The enormous concentrations of Short-beaked Common Dolphins had to be seen to be believed and Bryde’s Whale, Short-finned Pilot Whale and Killer Whale were other cetacean highlights of this fantastic cruise. The birds, for once, played a more modest role, but we still saw a splendid variety of specialities that included Black-footed Albatross, hundreds of Black-vented Shearwaters, Black and diminutive Least Storm Petrels, Western Grebe, Red-billed Tropicbird, Blue-footed Booby, Ridgway’s Rail, Red and Red-necked Phalaropes, Sabine’s, Heermann’s and Yellow-footed Gulls, Elegant Tern, Pomarine and Long-tailed Skuas and Scripp’s and much-wanted Craveri’s Murrelets, while walks in the semi desert gave us Grey Thrasher, California Gnatcatcher, Large-billed Savanna Sparrow and Pyrrhuloxia. The encounters with a splendid Whale Shark, the lazy Northern Elephant Seals, the playful California Sea Lions, the jumping and feeding of dozens of Smooth-tailed Mobula Rays, the colourful San Lucan Rock Lizards and the Santa Catalina Rattlesnakes will also be long remembered. On the extension we visited the Estero San José and the Sierra La Laguna where Baja Pygmy Owl, Xantus’s Hummingbird, Phainopepla and Belding’s Yellowthroat were the highlights.

It's a great trip for seeing Blue Whales (Rainer Ertel)

It's a great trip for seeing Blue Whales (Rainer Ertel)