Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thursday May 31, 2012

Well, the seas were much calmer than yesterday and we headed offshore without much spray.  The day began slowly with a few Wilson's Storm-Petrels gathering in the slick, then, around 0900, a Trindade Petrel popped up behind us (likely riding in a swell...) that gave distant and fleeting views.  While we were watching for the gadfly petrel, a Masked Booby was spotted coming in from the same direction!  It flew right in to the boat, made a lap, dove, and then was off.  A European Storm-Petrel came towards the boat in the slick before 1000 and we were able to chum it in so that everyone aboard was able to see it feeding & hanging out with the slightly larger Wilson's Storm-Petrels.  About 1100, Brian yelled, "what is this coming in?!" and sure enough, a Fea's Petrel flew right into the slick hanging around for a few minutes and making incredibly close passes before moving on!  Overall a day with not many individuals, but we had great looks at each of the eleven species we saw!

Trindade Petrel (dark morph)   1
Fea's Petrel   1
Black-capped Petrel   6
Cory's Shearwater   9-10
Great Shearwater   1
Audubon's Shearwater   10-11
Wilson's Storm-Petrel   210
European Storm-Petrel   1
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel   5-7
Masked Booby   1
Pomarine Jaeger   2

 Fea's Petrel ~ Steve Howell

Dave Shoch:
Black-capped Petrel
The EURO...

(Nate Dias)
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel
Masked Booby (Dave Shoch)
(Nate Dias)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wednesday May 30, 2012

Well, we looked at it this morning and decided that we could get in the morning before the wind really came on this afternoon...turned out that it blew a bit harder than we expected, but the seas were beautiful and the birds were really flying and making close passes by the boat.  We had excellent views of Black-capped Petrels, Band-rumped Storm-Petrels, and Leach's!  Not to mention the shearwaters and Wilson's that were really getting up there in the breeze!  We were back to the dock early since conditions offshore deteriorated quite quickly once the winds picked up from the south east, but the day was still a full one and the birds were in their element (even if it was, very obviously, not ours!!!).

(List subject to change!)
Black-capped Petrel   2-3
Cory's Shearwater   32
Sooty Shearwater   7
Audubon's Shearwater   34
Wilson's Storm-Petrel   152-162
Leach's Storm-Petrel   3
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel   1-2
Parasitic Jaeger   1
Pomarine Jaeger   6

Black-capped Petrel (Steve Howell)
 Sooty Shearwater (Dave Shoch)
 Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (great job Bob Fogg!!!)
 Pomarine Jaeger (Nate Dias)

Tuesday May 29, 2012

There was a bit more wind offshore than was called for, but that was fine with us...birds were up and flying today!  We had Black-capped Petrels come in to the slick, including one white-faced, juvenile individual.  A Fea's Petrel popped up in the slick and then spent at least 10 or 15 minutes making a variety of close passes by the boat (yes, the shark liver worked!).  We did see Band-rumped Storm-Petrels, but they did not spend much time close in the slick like our cooperative Wilson's.  Three Pomarie Jaegers spent much of their morning following us, and we had many Cory's & Audubon's throughout the day.

Fea's Petrel   1
Black-capped Petrel   12
Cory's Shearwater   60
Great Shearwater   1-2
Sooty Shearwater   4
Audubon's Shearwater   39
Wilson's Storm-Petrel   100-130
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel   2
Pomarine Jaeger   3
jaeger sp. 1

Fea's Petrel (Steve N.G. Howell)

Band-rumped Storm-Petrel molting

Pomarine Jaegers:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday May 28, 2012

Well, it was an unprecedented day offshore with the same number of rare gadfly petrels and Black-capped Petrels ~ ZERO!  While there was a report of a distant Black-capped Petrel, it was just that, distant.  The seas were much more comfortable today than they have been with just slight (3-4 ft) seas, a lot of sun, and just a bit of wind.  Audubon's Shearwaters were the highlight of the day with more than 50 seen!  We also had nice Cory's Shearwaters and at least 2 Great Shearwaters plus some quick moving Sooties.

Cory's Shearwater   66
Great Shearwater   2
Sooty Shearwater   2
Audubon's Shearwater   86-88
Wilson's Storm-Petrel   50+
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel   3
Leach's Storm-Petrel   2
Parasitic Jaeger   2
Pomarine Jaeger   4
jaeger sp.   2

Cuvier's Beaked Whale   1

Feeding Cory's Shearwater (Nate Dias)

Audubon's Shearwater (Dave Shoch)

Common Terns (3 photos ~ Steve Howell)

 Cuvier's Beaked Whale (Dave Shoch)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday May 27, 2012

We left the dock at 0540 with eager participants after a day ashore yesterday and the conditions were better than expected as we left Hatteras Inlet.  Around 0645 a commotion in the stern caused Brian to throttle back and a curious, young Red-billed Tropicbird flew right in, just 8 miles from the inlet!  This is the closest to shore we have ever seen one here!  The bird flew around the boat giving all aboard incredible views before taking off...we continued offshore.  At 0945, over an hour after slowing down, a White-tailed Tropicbird flew in, also making close passes for all to see and putting this trip on the very small list of those that have encountered both species in one day!  While numbers were low, the diversity we encountered was exceptional.  A notable appearance of some Gervais' Beaked Whales caused excitement before noon, our first for the season.  Otherwise, we had excellent views of Black-capped Petrels, Cory's, Audubon's, & Sooty Shearwaters, Wilson's, Band-rumped, and Leach's Storm-Petrels, plus Long-tailed & Pomarine Jaegers.  This afternoon on the way in, a South Polar Skua was spotted and seen well, though distantly.  We had great looks at the species we saw & we'll see what tomorrow brings!

Black-capped Petrel   12
Cory's Shearwater   30
Sooty Shearwater   6
Audubon's Shearwater   18
Wilson's Storm-Petrel   80-90
Leach's Storm-Petrel   4
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel   5
White-tailed Tropicbird   1
Red-billed Tropicbird   1
South Polar Skua   1
Pomarine Jaeger   3
Long-tailed Jaeger   1

Bottlenose Dolphin   6
Gervais' Beaked Whale   2

Cory's Shearwater (Bob Fogg)

White-tailed Tropicbird (Nate Dias)

Red-billed Tropicbird (Bob Fogg)

Red-billed Tropicbird

Long-tailed Jaeger (three photos)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday May 26, 2012

We wanted to post a retrospective for the day from ten years past, May 26, 2002, but time did not permit.  We did run trips from Hatteras & Oregon Inlets and saw a total of four Trindade Petrels!  Swell from our subtropical storm, Beryl, conspired with strong easterly winds today to keep us at the dock.  Hopefully tomorrow will prove to be calmer in Hatteras Inlet, and offshore...

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday May 25, 2012

Wind was in the forecast for today and we did find a bit of it offshore!  East winds were expected, but we had southeasterly wind until midday, when it shifted to the east and picked up a few notches.  Birds were flying, and we had nice, aerial views of Audubon's Shearwaters way up in the sky as they flew by at high rates of speed;  Cory's Shearwaters were following suit.  The highlights of the day for many aboard were the Black-capped Petrels and Band-rumped Storm-Petrels.  Black-cappeds made some very close passes, and everyone had time to study naked-eye Band-rumpeds in addition to observing them at a distance in the slick as we travelled.  Leach's Storm-Petrels made a few brief appearances which were much appreciated, but decent views were challenging in the larger seas.  Pomarine Jaegers were seen not only on the way out in the morning, but also in the slick feeding close to the stern, and again on the way in this afternoon.  Wilson's Storm-Petrels were very cooperative (as usual when fed) and followed us arcing high in the air all day.  Photos today courtesy of leader Bob Fogg, thanks!

Black-capped Petrel   19
Cory's Shearwater   22
Sooty Shearwater   1
Audubon's Shearwater   17
Wilson's Storm-Petrel   300-315
Leach's Storm-Petrel   4
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel   11
Pomarine Jaeger   5

Atlantic Spotted Dolphin   9+
Bottlenose Dolphin   2

Black-capped Petrel
 Cory's Shearwater
 Band-rumped Storm-Petrel

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thursday May 24, 2012

What a difference a day makes!  Light winds and clear skies greeted us as we passed through Hatteras Inlet and headed offshore.  Cory's Shearwaters and a couple of Wilson's Storm-Petrels were seen on the way out and a spectacular full rainbow greeted us in the Gulf Stream as we slowed down (unfortunately, though we could see the end, no pot of gadfly petrels...) and the first Black-capped Petrel of the day passed closely soon after.  As the day progressed, with winds shifting a bit to the east, birds began piling back in.  We spent most of our time skirting the edges of rain where the conditions were excellent for getting birds in the air and into our slick.  Black-capped Petrels were around most of the day, Band-rumped Storm-Petrels made some close passes in the slick, and we had a Leach's Storm-Petrel dart by.  Pomarine Jaegers came closer to shore with the winds and we had some behind the boat with us for most of the afternoon, including one young dark morph.  A Parasitic Jaeger came in and fed behind the boat with the Poms following us for a short distance, which is uncommon to see, they are typically encountered inshore on these trips.  A little after 1330 a Fea's Petrel made a very brief appearance some distance back in the slick.  Typical gadfly behavior found it gone in seconds so not everyone aboard had a look, but a few people in the right place at the right time had satisfactory, though fleeting, views.

Fea's Petrel   1
Black-capped Petrel   42-43
Cory's Shearwater   22-23
Great Shearwater   1
Sooty Shearwater   2
Audubon's Shearwater   2
Wilson's Storm-Petrel   202-212
Leach's Storm-Petrel   1-2
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel   4-5
Red-necked Phalarope   7
Pomarine Jaeger   4
Parasitic Jaeger   1-2

to begin the day...

Sooty Shearwater

Wilson's Storm-Petrels in the slick

 first summer Pomarine Jaeger
 Pomarine Jaeger
 dark morph Pomarine Jaeger
 Parasitic Jaeger ~ photo courtesy of Bob Fogg

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wednesday May 23, 2012

Lightning filled squalls delayed our departure from the dock this morning, so we did not make it offshore until about the time morning activity usually begins to wane.  Nonetheless we saw the usual suspects and had great looks at them, though the individual numbers were low.  The squalls early in the day pushed many of the birds we've been seeing the past few days farther out to sea, so hopefully tomorrow the Gulf Stream will have something new to offer!  We did see a nice Long-tailed Jaeger on the way out this morning with scattered Cory's Shearwaters and a handful of Wilson's Storm-Petrels.  Black-capped Petrels made close passes in the slick and we had a couple of cooperative Audubon's Shearwaters, a bird we did not see well yesterday.  Great Shearwaters have been with us both days so far in the slick, but today we could only turn up one cooperative individual.  On the way in we also picked up a Bridled Tern (in the glare), four Red-necked Phalaropes, and a Sooty Shearwater near the inlet.

Black-capped Petrel   13
Cory's Shearwater   15
Great Shearwater   1
Sooty Shearwater   1
Audubon's Shearwater   3-4
Wilson's Storm-Petrel   105-115
Red-necked Phalarope   4
Bridled Tern   1
Long-tailed Jaeger   1

Bottlenose Dolphin   8-10 (Offshore)

Cory's Shearwater
 Great Shearwater
 photogenic Audubon's Shearwater!
 Portuguese Man of War (or relative) in some sargassum where we found the phalaropes
weather buoy offshore of Diamond Shoals that we passed on the way has been out of order for months!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tuesday May 22, 2012

We were pleased to find little to no wind this morning with just a bit of swell from the tropical depression south of us.  Three new species were seen today, Manx Shearwater, South Polar Skua, and Parasitic Jaeger, plus we finally had good looks at Band-rumped Storm-Petrel!  By 0800 we had already racked up five species of shearwater plus Wilson's Storm-Petrels, Red-necked Phalaropes, Bridled Terns, and Pomarine Jaegers.  There were some nice temperature breaks out there as well and Black-capped Petrels did not disappoint us, making many close passes by the boat.  Great Shearwaters are here in much larger numbers than we saw last spring and we had many with us most of the day in the slick.  This afternoon we found a huge (for this late) flock of Red-necked Phalaropes (70+) that nervously allowed pursuit along a foam line inshore.  Overall we had a busy day out there and the list following will have to suffice since the evening is closing in and tomorrow will be another early morning...

Black-capped Petrel   29
Cory's Shearwater   54
Great Shearwater   35
Sooty Shearwater   18
Manx Shearwater   1
Audubon's Shearwater   12
Wilson's Storm-Petrel   402-412
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel   3-4  (at least 2 molting)
Red-necked Phalarope   87+
Bridled Tern   3
Arctic Tern   1
South Polar Skua   1
Pomarine Jaeger   5
Parasitic Jaeger   1

Bottlenose Dolphin   8-10
Loggerhead Turtle   2

Dark Black-capped Petrel
 White faced Black-capped Petrel
 Atlantic Cory's Shearwater
 Pomarine Jaeger stealing a "treat" from a Great Shearwater!
 Inshore Red-necked Phalaropes on foam line
 Arctic Tern
 South Polar Skua (this individual hung out in our slick making quite a few nice passes!)
 Front that came through while we were cleaning the boat this evening...