Sunday, February 8, 2015

February 7, 2015 by Brian Patteson

Our boat trip on February 7 from Hatteras was a great success.  We had excellent weather and a well attended trip with many first timers.  In contrast to our trip last month, we did not have to go as far to find some good seabirding.  There were a couple of nice temperature breaks that held hundreds of birds.  We found a conditions with a brown / green color change just six miles southeast of the inlet early in the trip.  The water temperature was in the mid 40s on one side and mid 50s on the other.  We found dozens of dozens of Bonaparte's Gulls
and several Dovekies along this change (photo by Kate Sutherland - you can see a Dovekie in the upper left corner...!).  Farther out there was a green to blue color change going from the mid 50s to mid 60s.  The blue / green change had hundreds of birds, mostly Bonaparte's Gulls and Red Phalaropes (photo by Kate Sutherland).  
There were also many Dovekies (photos by Brian Patteson) along this change as well as a few Northern Fulmars.  
We chummed hard and attracted a good following of gulls, but we could not turn up a Great Skua this time.  There was a modest number of gannets near Diamond Shoals.  The wind picked up by mid afternoon and we realized how lucky we had been with the timing of this trip.  We also saw a large flock of Brant in Pamlico Sound on the way back in.  

I would like to thank Kate Sutherland and Will Whitley for their help with spotting, leading, and chumming.

List of Target Seabirds:
Northern Fulmar  6
Red Phalarope  350+ (hard to count, constantly moving ahead!)
Razorbill  41
Dovekie  101 (great count here!)

Non Avian Marine Life:
Humpback Whale  1
Bottlenose Dolphin  dozens
Atlantic Spotted Dolphin  10 - 15
Loggerhead Turtle  19
unidentified small sea turtle  2
Hammerhead Shark (likely Scalloped)  3

We saw several Common Loons over the course of the day (photo by Brian Patteson)
Northern Gannet by Brian Patteson
Red Phalaropes by Brian Patteson
Lesser Black-backed Gulls were around in good numbers all day (photo by Brian Patteson)
Dovekie & Bonaparte's Gull (Kate Sutherland)
 Diving Dovekie!  We had so many of these close to the boat, you could see them "flying" underwater (Brian Patteson)
 Dovekie moving over the surface (Brian Patteson)
 Dovekie flying (Kate Sutherland)
Atlantic Spotted Dolphin (Kate Sutherland)
 Loggerhead Turtle (Kate Sutherland)

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