Summer in the Gulf Stream can be hot, and at times we get weather patterns that perpetuate a lot of the same weather day after day. This is what we had leading up to our trips this past weekend - a Bermuda high with persistent southwesterly winds. The Gulf Stream water is pushed inshore in the summer, giving us a blend of warm to hot water with varying amounts of current up on the shelf. The forecast had some thunderstorms and rain in it before Friday's trip, but those didn't pan out for us, and one line of storms moved offshore before we even got out there on Saturday. Needless to say, some days it can be like a desert out there! And the desert produced some low seabird numbers this past weekend. We still had some awesome views of our expected species and if you joined us for both trips, that included nine pelagic species! Both days found some nice, blue Gulf Stream waters with scattered sargassum, but we didn't really find a nice condition to concentrate birds. And while some were hungry on Friday and came in well to the chum, like the Black-capped Petrels and Band-rumped Storm-Petrels, Saturday we didn't have as much luck with our scented offerings!
While we saw Sooty Terns each day, Saturday we had better luck with Bridled Terns - two approached the boat quite closely! Cory's Shearwaters were out there both days, but we only had good views of Scopoli's on Friday. Audubon's Shearwaters and Wilson's Storm-petrels were cooperative on both trips. And we had some excellent views of Band-rumpeds on Friday. So while our counts may not have been high, and we didn't find the tropicbird we were hoping for out in the deep, we still had excellent encounters with our usual suspects, and some days that is just enough! Any day you see a Black-capped Petrel is a good one!
Thanks to Kyle Kittelberger and Sage Church for helping us to lead the trips this weekend and thanks to everyone who joined us out there! Next trips are August 7 and 8, and while the 7th is currently full at our current reduced capacity, we have some space on the 8th. We also will be running August 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, and 29th - space is available on all!
Photos today are all by Kate Sutherland with the exception of the sailfish! It was taken by participant Brad Sale of SC!
Species List for July 24 / 25
Black-capped Petrel 24 to 26 / 13
Cory's Shearwater (Atlantic) 20 / 1
Scopoli's Shearwater 2 / 0
Cory's type 8 / 3
Great Shearwater 4 / 4
Audubon's Shearwater 16 / 34
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 46 / 25
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel 2 to 3 / 0
Leach's / Band-rumped 0 / 1
Sooty Tern 4 / 3
Bridled Tern 0 / 3
Common Tern 2 / 0
tropical tern sp (Sooty/Bridled) 1 / 3
small jaeger sp 0 / 1
offshore bottlenose dolphins 4 / 0
sailfish 0 / 1
A dark faced Black-capped Petrel - this bird is partway through primary molt
A more intermediate Black-capped Petrel showing a molt pattern closer to that of a white-faced bird. This is the same individual pictured in the text, so looking at the underwing pattern, it looks intermediate.
A Cory's Shearwater sitting on the sea, you can see what a large, thick bill this species has!
One of the Scopoli's Shearwaters from Friday's trip, dorsal and ventral. Note the more slender bill compared to the Cory's above.
Wilson's Storm-Petrel - compare its short, paddle shaped wings to the Band-rumped Storm-Petrel below.
Another angle on the Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (same individual as above) showing just how long their wings are!
We had two Bridled Terns make nice passes on Saturday!
Brad Sale captured this image of our sailfish Saturday!
And to finish, an Atlantic patchwing!