sooty shearwaters, in great numbers

A few evenings ago, August 4th to be precise, while pushing a stroller, trying to soothe a cranky baby, I found myself on West Cliff Drive just before sunset. I circumvented Lighthouse Field State Park, which meant I walked for several blocks along the ocean. The whole time I walked east, a stream of birds flew west over the water, an abundance of birds, an endless chain. They did not appear to be feeding, though I couldn’t see any individual clearly enough to be sure, just the great cloud of them. I kept expecting to walk past the place where the flock began, but I never did and it’s possible they were moving in a great circle, or it’s possible that the movement originated further down by the harbor or even beyond. I think it’s fair to say that I have never seen so many birds. I was awestruck.
I came home and hit the google and found that they are sooty shearwaters, making an annual visit to Santa Cruz. One online estimate had their numbers at 3000+.
Their migrations are also epic – 40,000 miles, the longest documented migration of any bird — so we are lucky to be on the route. There are pictures on the web that suggest their numbers and resemble what I saw. One can be found here: http://www.mobileranger.com/santacruz/migration-madness-the-sooty-shearwaters-are-back/ along with much intriguing information.