Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday May 31, 2015 by Steve NG Howell

The penultimate day of the Spring Blitz – and still the birds keep coming. Our commutes to and from the warm deep water produced the ‘usual’ scattering of shearwaters, including a couple of Manx, and even a Northern Gannet inside the sound, along with varied flyingfish as we entered the blue water and scattered golden Sargassum weed. Out in the deep ‘blue desert’ (see yesterday’s post) things got quiet and hot, like yesterday, but Brian persisted with working the slick, knowing from long experience that time + chum = birds. Our first backtrack down the slick produced excellent and repeated studies of Leach’s Storm-Petrels along with the Wilson’s. Some time later, the second backtrack produced good views of a molting Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, a species scarce in recent days. The wing molt identified this bird as a winter breeder of the population (= cryptic species) known as Grant’s Storm-Petrel, the most frequent type we see here.
As we worked the slick a couple of female/immature Mesoplodon beaked whales appeared and kept us company, seeming quite curious as they rode along beside the bow to offer amazing views – rarely do we see them let alone this well. The animals appeared consistent with Gervais’s Beaked Whale, a species first documented at sea (as opposed to by beach-washed specimens) on our trips not so many years ago! Our first Black-capped Petrel made a pass at the same time, and then it got quiet again: the patchiness of food (and birds) is typical of the blue desert.
        Scattered birds, including Black-capped Petrels, kept us looking, and then in early afternoon some jaegers and terns came in to the slick to join the Great and Cory’s Shearwaters. For quite a while we enjoyed excellent views of Pomarine and Long-tailed Jaegers, along with some Arctic Terns (including 2 first-summers) and a Common Tern. The call of ‘skua’ heralded the approach of a South Polar Skua, which made several passes and was chased at times by a Long-tailed Jaeger. But all too soon it was time to pull in the chum and head back to the ‘real world,’ passing through more flyingfish and a steady light flow of shearwaters as the shoreline appeared.

Thank you to everyone who joined us today!  Thanks to Steve Howell, Bob Fogg, and Jeff Lemons for helping us lead the trip and to Steve & Bob for today's blog photos!  Big thanks again to Steve for composing the trip report!  -Kate

Black-capped Petrel  9
Cory's Shearwater  78
Great Shearwater  12
Sooty Shearwater  2
Manx Shearwater  2
Audubon's Shearwater  18
Wilson's Storm-Petrel  84-94
Leach's Storm-Petrel  10
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel  1
Oceanodroma sp.  3
Common Tern  1
Arctic Tern  6
South Polar Skua  2
Pomarine Jaeger  1
Parasitic Jaeger (identified by photo) 1
Long-tailed Jaeger  9
jaeger sp  2

Bottlenose Dolphin  6
Gervais' Beaked Whale  2-3
Loggerhead Turtle  1

Our first Black-capped Petrel of the day made a nice pass
 A more white faced Black-capped by Bob Fogg
On the way in this afternoon we had a Manx (left) & Sooty Shearwater flyby!  Photo by Bob Fogg
Leach’s Storm-Petrel – some sailed high in today’s calm conditions
Another Leach's Storm-Petrel photo by Bob Fogg
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel – the wing molt indicating Grant’s
Adult-type Common Tern – compare the molt contrast in the primaries with the uniform wings of Arctic
 And resting on the sea
Arctic Tern 1st summer, following a complete molt in its first winter – in Antarctica! Note the translucent primaries
Another image by Bob Fogg
Adult-type Arctic Tern – note the short neck, uniform generation primaries
South Polar Skua, adult starting wing molt
Same individual by Bob Fogg
Adult Pomarine Jaeger, probably a male given the clean creamy-white breast
Same individual feeding in the slick by Bob Fogg
2nd-summer Long-tailed Jaeger, superficially resembling Parasitic, but note the small bill and wire-like tail points
Female/immature presumed Gervais’s Beaked Whale (uncropped head shot!)
Oddspot Midget

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