Following a couple of days when large shearwaters were scarce we made up for it today in spades and then some, plus a few rare birds thrown into the mix, and a change in weather.
The fresh breeze had shifted overnight to northwest, making for a comfortable commute out to the Gulf Stream, albeit under mostly overcast skies. The day’s first rare bird was a nighthawk not far offshore, seen too briefly for species to be established. Once out in the blue water we slowed down and started to pick up a few birds, but not till the windier areas and choppier water did things really pick up, with storm-petrels, shearwaters, and Black-capped Petrels coming into the chum slick. It was a bit rough, but our slow steady heading made things as good as they could be, and Black-capped Petrels showed well and steadily all morning. Fred was noticeably absent (see yesterday’s blog post), but we saw our first fresh juvenile of the season, a white-faced type (= cryptic species).
While we were absorbed in the wheeling and bickering shearwater spectacle the next rare bird flew by—a Royal Tern, common onshore perhaps, but rare far offshore. And then a gull appeared—which almost always means a Laughing Gull out here, but not this time. It took a minute or so to get some clear views, but the bird proved to be a second-summer Lesser Black-backed Gull! Expected here in winter (inshore at least), but the first found offshore on our spring trips, thus making it as “common” in spring offshore from Hatteras as Tahiti Petrel. Remember, everything is rare somewhere and at some time!
(Thank you to our participants for joining us today, and thank you to Steve for the photos and blog! Brian Patteson also contributed a few photos today as well!)
Species List June 4, 2018
Black-capped Petrel 42
Cory's Shearwater 35 / Scopoli's Shearwater 5
Great Shearwater 20-25
Audubon's Shearwater 37
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 170-210
Leach's Storm-Petrel 1
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel 6
Lesser Black-backed Gull 1
Royal Tern 1
Long-tailed Jaeger 1
nighthawk sp. 1
Black-capped Petrel (Brian Patteson)