The itinerary is similar to a regular Gulf Stream pelagic trip. We go to where we expect to see the most birds and as far as we need to go to see the deepwater specialties. Kate Sutherland and I ran two trips aboard our 31' downeast boat, the Skua, on June 27 & 28. Although we did not have any participants who attended both trips, the days were quite different and each trip included two species not seen on the other day. The first day was quite calm and started out fairly hot. It felt like tropicbird weather and sure enough one of the first birds we saw after slowing down was a young Red-billed Tropicbird. Unfortunately, it was not really interested in the boat and soon left us. It took awhile to gather some birds with the chum but Wilson's & Band-rumped Storm-Petrels did eventually find us and fed for hours at arms length. We also had some very close looks at Black-capped Petrels. A 200mm lens was plenty for close photos of one Black-cap that fed in the slick for several minutes.
Day Two started out cooler than Day One with a little breeze. It was still a pleasant ride out. Again it took a while to get some birds around, but when they found us, it was up close and personal. A Trindade Petrel was a bit more distant, but we had pretty good looks in great light before it headed for the horizon. There were numerous squalls scattered around, but we managed to keep dry for most of the day. When they did get closer, they brought us many shearwaters and Black-capped Petrels, as well as another Trindade Petrel
We think these trips are the beginning of what can be a new dimension in pelagic birding here - a chance to get out more often and a chance to get closer to the birds. If you have only been out to sea on fairly large boats, you will be amazed at the experience we can offer on our 31 footer. The Skua is a very comfortable, seaworthy boat. Many of the birds we saw could be seen well without binoculars. It was probably the best viewing of Band-rumped Storm-Petrels that we have ever had. And Kate's photos even revealed that one of them was banded. We are looking forward to our next trips in July (11, 12, & 13th). In the meantime, we are also open for charters. The Skua will accommodate five birders for $975 per day. -Brian Patteson
Thanks again to everyone who joined us for these trips! Below are some more photos by Brian Patteson and Kate Sutherland - the trip lists are on our website!
A couple more photos of the Trindade Petrel from Saturday:
Two shots of Cory's Shearwaters
& a couple Greats
Our cooperative Leach's Storm Petrel from Friday's trip. This individual stayed with us in the slick feeding for hours!
Images of Band-rumped Storm-Petrels
This ratty looking individual pictured below was banded upon inspection of the photos (not a color band)! Contact us if you are interested in the photos that show the band or have any information on anyone banding Oceanodroma castro.
Hope to see some of you out there soon! Beautiful shot of the Graceful Leader with a squall line behind her!