Sunday, October 19, 2014

October 11 - Pelagic Trip #39 for 2014 - Brian Patteson

It has always been a struggle to promote fall pelagic trips here;  seabird diversity dwindles past September and fall migration ashore is at a peak for so many other bird species.  But fall is a pleasant time to be out and Black-capped Petrels are looking sharp and generally dependable in good numbers.  Such was the case on the trip last Saturday.  Here is an excellent example by Jeff Lemons.
Although they were slightly outnumbered by Cory's Shearwater (one flock skewed the daily total), it is safe to say that Black-capped Petrels ruled the day, even taking charge when a Pomarine Jaeger invaded "their" chum slick.  Poms have been notably scarce this year so it was good to see one well on this trip.  We also had some nice looks at Cory's and Audubon's Shearwaters, but our only Sooty Terns of the day stayed distant.  Wilson's Storm-Petrel was almost missed.  We had one single in the slick.  We did not see any marine mammals, which was disappointing after finding a couple of pods of Atlantic Spotted Dolphins during a charter the previous day, but seas were choppy and while this can be good for birding, it makes it difficult to spot cetaceans and sea turtles.  Flyingfish put on a good show, though and it is always a kick to show people these amazing fish for the first time.  Our friend Steve Howell has put out a small book about them called "The Amazing World of Flyingfish".  Nice shot of an Odd Spot Midget by Jeff Lemons:
We did have many newcomers on this trip and I would like to thank Dr. Fred Alsop of ETSU for bringing his coastal ecology class out with us again, thus making this fall trip happen.  I would also like to thank Jeff Lemons and Kyle Kittelberger for helping lead the trip and Will Whitley for help with the chumming.

Black-capped Petrel  39
Cory's Shearwater  54
Audubon's Shearwater  22
Wilson's Storm-Petrel  1
Pomarine Jaeger  1
Sooty Tern  3

Another excellent shot of a Black-capped Petrel by Jeff Lemons
 Cory's Shearwater by Jeff Lemons
A couple of Audubon's Shearwaters by Jeff Lemons
 young Pomarine Jaeger by Jeff Lemons
& the gorgeous sunrise on October 11, wish I could have been there (Kate)!  Also taken by Jeff Lemons - big thank you to him for keeping up with the photos for the day!