The morning greeted us with a beautiful sky as we left the dock at Hatteras for another Gulf Stream excursion. Cape Point provided a natural buffer to the Northeast winds, and our trip over the breakers and into the deep was relatively uneventful, compared to previous days. As we cleared the Point, the seas began to build, the winds gained strength, and we started seeing our first birds of the day. Cory’s Shearwaters were moving north, giving short but distinctive views.
We made it to the shelf break just before 0800, and began to form our slick. In short order, a procession of tubenoses had appeared, including Great Shearwaters, Wilson’s Storm-Petrels, and Black-capped Petrels. Less than an hour later, the call of Fea’s Petrel rang out from the stern, and folks scrambled to get a glimpse at this sporty Pterodroma! This bird gave excellent views, allowing all on board to study its smaller physique and dark underwings. (Kate Sutherland)
As we continued along, more and more birds piled into the slick. Our storm-petrel flock intensified, and we caught our first glimpse of Leach’s Storm-Petrel for the day! Brian and Kate decided to deploy a floating chum block, to allow the flock to gather in one spot. The block performed beyond expectations, gathering dozens of birds around it, and even attracting a young Tiger Shark!
Just after 10, Kate spotted a dark bird powering into the slick: a dark morph Trindade Petrel! (Kate Sutherland)
Birds were chewing at the stern as the attending flock grew, with several energetic Sooty Shearwaters increasing the pulse rate for those watching the slick. However, everyone was able to study the differences between this cold-water species and the superficially similar Trindade Petrel. Providing further study for the passengers were various Band-rumped Storm-Petrels, which zipped and glided circles around the Wilson’s.
Thanks to everyone who joined us out there today! A big thank you also to Ed Corey and Justin Bosler for helping us to lead the trip!
Species List June 1, 2020
Fea's Petrel - 1
Trindade Petrel - 4 to 5
Black-capped Petrel - 29 to 30
Cory's Shearwater - 55
Scopoli's Shearwater - 2
Cory's type - 4
Great Shearwater - 33
Sooty Shearwater - 18
Audubon's Shearwater - 9 to 12
Wilson's Storm-Petrel - 235
Leach's Storm-Petrel - 3
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel - 8
Leach's / Band-rumped - 1
Offshore Bottlenose Dolphin - 21
Tiger Shark - 1
Portuguese Man-of-War - 1
The second encounter with an intermediate bird which could have been the same individual we saw earlier in the day! (Ed Corey)
Black-capped Petrels showed well! (Kate Sutherland)
It was really nice to see some Scopoli's finally in the slick with the Great Shearwaters! (Kate Sutherland)
Great Shearwaters were finally around in good numbers! (Ed Corey)
Sooty Shearwaters also came in well to the chum and at least a couple were with us all day! (Kate Sutherland)
We had another Common Tern visit us offshore today. (Ed Corey)
The offshore bottlenose dolphins were awesome to watch as they surfed in the waves! (Ed Corey)