Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 13, 2014 by Brian Patteson

We had another nice day for pelagic birding off Hatteras on Sept. 13. A stalled cold front resulted in light winds and slight seas, but surprisingly there were no thunderstorms out over the deep Gulf Stream! The lack of wind had the birds flaked out on the water most of the day (often the case after some bright moonlit nights), but we saw a bit of activity during the early afternoon with birds coming to our chum slick and also feeding in natural conditions. Black-capped Petrels were the dominant tubenose of the day (photo below by Bob Fogg).
It's getting late for large numbers of Wilson's Storm-Petrels and there just have not been many shearwaters around lately. Sooty Terns made a good showing, with several pairs of adults and young seen throughout the day (young Sooty Tern below by Bob Fogg).
We had a good tern show near the shelf break on our inshore tack, with both Bridled and Sooty Terns calling and feeding right beside the boat. This is, of course, a seasonal highlight: you don't get juvenile tropical terns here during the spring or early summer. It starts in late August and September is the peak time for it. September can also be a good time for young Long-tailed Jaegers, but a southerly flow for several days is not a good set up and we did not see any jaegers, nor did we see any Great Shearwaters which are seen more frequently south of the Cape when the wind blows from the north. The cold front arrived here Saturday evening, so had we been out on Sunday, we might have seen some of these birds, but we would have gotten tossed around a lot more on the process. Warm calm days are great for nice looks at terns, phalaropes, and Audubon's Shearwaters (photo by Mike Lanzone),
and they are also good for first time seabirders- which we had quite a few of on this trip. With the exception of Great Shearwater and jaegers, we saw all of the seabirds that we usually expect in mid September. A late Band-rumped Storm-Petrel was somewhat of a surprise, and it was the only seabird that left us wanting a better view. Probably the rarest bird of the trip was a Connecticut Warbler that flew by the boat during the afternoon. It was identified from photos, and it was the first one we have seen offshore in many years. There was a little sign of warblers throughout the day, with at least five or six species seen, a sure sign we had some westerly wind the previous night. All in all, it was a good trip. It was good to be back out on Stormy Petrel II ("El Grande" as my friend Bruce Armstrong says after we ran several trips on our smaller boat in recent weeks.) We would like to thank Bob Fogg and Scott Winton for helping to lead the trip and Scott for bringing a crowd of new participants from Duke. We would also like to thank Bob and Mike Lanzone for contributing some of their photos to this report.

Black-capped Petrel 59-61
Cory's Shearwater 34
Audubon's Shearwater 17
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 48
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel 1
Red-necked Phalarope 10
Sooty Tern 34
Bridled Tern 5
Black Tern 96 counted - likely more! Amazing flight!
Common Tern (offshore) 14

shorebird sp. 2
Ovenbird 1
Black-and-white Warbler 1
Connecticut Warbler 1
American Redstart 3
Magnolia Warbler 1
Bay/Poll 1
unidentified warbler 3

Loggerhead Turtle 1

Black-capped Petrel - Bob Fogg
 One of the few white-faced birds we have seen this summer - Mike Lanzone
This individual was with us for over an hour feeding in the slick and making close passes in good light!  A good candidate for the nominate Cory's Shearwater, known as Scopoli's Shearwater.  Two photos below by Mike Lanzone.
 & two more photos by Bob Fogg
We had a perched Bridled Tern in the morning then an adult and young individual on some bamboo in the afternoon - they are always a favorite to photograph!  So here are a few...
by Kate Sutherland
 by Bob Fogg
& three takes on the bamboo...first - Mike Lanzone
 The young Bridled Tern is on the left - Brian Patteson
 Kate Sutherland
Thanks again to everyone who joined us out there!  It was a beautiful day offshore!  Here is a photo of our data buoy off of Cape Hatteras #41025 (Kate Sutherland):

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