Monday, July 9, 2012

July 8th Photos

Additional photos from this weekend!
Sunday July 8th

White-faced individuals, just a handful were seen over the weekend, note the large bill (Black-capped Petrel)
 A more intermediate Black-capped Petrel
 Cory's Shearwaters we found on the water with some feeding shearwaters & Black-cappeds
 Great Shearwater in the same flock as the Cory's above, feeding on perhaps a squid
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel:  Occasionally we see these individuals with what appears to be a split rump patch, this bird is the first we've photographed this year.
 A more typical Band-rumped Storm-Petrel with some old primaries
 First summer Bridled Tern
 A tiny "flier" we found on the TOP deck when we cleaned the boat Sunday afternoon!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

July 7 & 8, 2012

Birding was excellent this weekend in spite of persistent southwesterly winds and swift current (moving about 5kts with the wind) in the Gulf Stream.  Highlights of the weekend were Trindade Petrel, Brown Booby, and finally some better numbers of Black-capped Petrels!  A light Trindade Petrel popped up in the slick on Saturday a few minutes past noon and quickly flew upwind of the slick reducing our chances of recruiting it for a better view, but at least most had a quick look!  Minutes later a Brown Booby, preceded in flight by a young Pomarine Jaeger, flew right up the port side and sat on the water ahead allowing a fairly close approach!  The jaeger was feeding on something that looked to be an eel? Interesting sighting since we had a Cory's Shearwater this spring with a similar looking creature in tow. Sunday turned up a Bridled Tern that we pursued in fairly large seas before it decided to just fly in to us moments later.
Otherwise, we had the usual suspects offshore both days with more consistent Black-capped Petrels than we encountered this spring.  Black-faced individuals with intermediates composed the majority with just a handful of white-faced birds seen over the weekend.  The Black-cappeds were very responsive to the chum, making nice close passes when we stopped to drift.  While we found some Band-rumped Storm-Petrels on Saturday, Sunday's birds were more cooperative and everyone had great views!  Cory's, Great, and Audubon's Shearwaters were seen on both trips, with better looks at Audubon's on Saturday, and while we did not have the numbers sometimes encountered this time of year, Wilson's Storm-Petrels were with us in the slick for most of each trip.
As most of the east coast suffered through some of the hottest days on record this weekend, we were lucky to have some wind offshore keeping us fairly cool and comfortable (even if it was a little bumpy!).  We would like to thank everyone who ventured offshore with us over the weekend!

Saturday July 7, 2012
Trindade Petrel   1
Black-capped Petrel   30-35
Cory's Shearwater   11
Great Shearwater   9
Audubon's Shearwater   13
Wilson's Storm-Petrel   108-128
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel   6-7
tropical tern sp.   1
Brown Booby   1
Pomarine Jaeger   1

Sunday July 8, 2012
Black-capped Petrel   33-38
Cory's Shearwater   19
Great Shearwater   17-18
Audubon's Shearwater   6
Wilson's Storm-Petrel   101-106
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel   6-8
Bridled Tern   1

Photos July 7:
Black-faced Black-capped Petrel

 Brown Booby!
 young Pomarine Jaeger feeding

Friday, July 6, 2012

Spring 2012

This spring we ran 16 pelagic trips with favorable conditions the third week in May allowing us to start off with some stellar trips on the 20th & 22nd!  We had two named storms on the East Coast this year, Alberto & Beryl, adding a challenge we rarely contend with in the spring.  Our May 26 trip was cancelled due to swell from Alberto and May 30th we ran a short, memorable trip as Beryl passed offshore.  The Gulf Stream was running fast this spring and coupled with the odd winds, there seemed to be less of a productive condition for birds and other life offshore.  After the first couple of trips we had consistent southerly winds that assist northbound birds in their journey and allowed many to just slip by well offshore.  We had very little north wind this spring to hold back the birds and make the waters more attractive to hungry birds.  On the other hand, we did have fairly strong winds most trips and the birds that were out there were flying!
Gadfly petrels were rare this year, but it was a great spring for shearwaters with Cory's and Audubon's on all 16 trips, Great and Sooty Shearwaters on ten of the 16, and Manx on just two.  European Storm-Petrel turned up again this spring on May 31st, a day with northerly winds that also found Trindade & Fea's Petrels and a Masked Booby!  Unfortunately though it was a day with low numbers of individuals turning up only six Black-cappeds, nine or ten Cory's, and one Great Shearwater, likely a result of TS Beryl's passage the preceding day.  Wilson's Storm-Petrels were seen on every trip with Leach's on seven of the 16, and Band-rumpeds made a strong showing this spring appearing on all but one trip.  May 27th turned up both tropicbirds, the only two of the spring;  I could find only one other trip list with both species encountered: June 3, 2009.  Red-necked Phalaropes surprised us with a group of over 70 on a foam line nearshore on May 22nd, a late date for such a gathering (second highest count for May with 131 seen on the 19th in 2010).  Not many Arctic Terns were seen this spring, but Bridleds were on seven of 16 trips surprising us as early as May 20th!  South Polar Skua was seen on just three occasions this spring causing us to fondly remember the spring of 2009 when we had over 20 in one day, here are two clips !  Pomarine Jaegers were here in nice numbers (53+) on 14 of 16 trips, with five turning up Parasitics and only three with Long-taileds.
Cetaceans and sea turtles were also rare this spring but we never had the calm conditions typically necessary to spot them with ease.  We saw just one Cuvier's Beaked Whale on May 28th, a small individual that obligingly surfaced beside the boat a few times. A pair of Gervais Beaked Whales popped up in our slick on May 27th, surfaced a couple of times, and then dove before we really got the boat turned around for a good look.  Pilot Whales (likely Short-finned) showed up for our last two trips and we had great view of them close to the boat along a grassline!  Each pod had a nice, large male, some smaller females & young males.  Offshore Bottlenose Dolphins were seen on just six trips with the smaller, energetic Spotted Dolphins were seen on just five!  Of note this spring were flying squid that were seen on two trips, a rare and exciting encounter for us!

Photos courtesy of Doug Koch, NY:
 Black-capped Petrel
 Pomarine Jaeger
 Pomarine Jaeger
South Polar Skua
Photos courtesy of Jeff Lemons, NC:
Common Loon
Black-capped Petrel
Red-necked Phalarope
 Bridled Terns
Long-tailed Jaeger
Photos courtesy of Dave Shoch:
Fea's Petrel
Loggerhead Turtle
Photo courtesy of Chris Sloan:
Black-capped Petrel