Monday, August 31, 2015

Saturday August 29, 2015

We had originally planned a set of trips from Oregon Inlet to the north this past weekend, but bookings lagged behind as the date approached and we switched to a single trip from Hatteras.  Winds blew briskly from the northeast most of the week, including Friday and Saturday, so perhaps it was best that we ran from Hatteras Inlet that faces south!  Skies were overcast as we headed offshore and we examined our first shearwaters of the day in the rain, but we had excellent looks at Cory's, Great, & Audubon's Shearwaters, Wilson's Storm-Petrels, Bridled Terns, and Red-necked Phalaropes, all before we slowed down and started chumming at 0945.  The small flock of shearwaters we found were feeding over a huge hammerhead shark, we glimpsed a few Atlantic Spotted Dolphins on the way out, plus there were was shaping up to be a great day offshore in spite of the rain!  We have had some spectacular moonlit nights recently so I was not sure how the birds, especially the Black-capped Petrels, would respond to the chum if they had been feeding overnight...but our slick was well attended all day (photo by Kate Sutherland)!
A young Long-tailed Jaeger appeared way back in the slick a little after 11, making its way toward the boat, but not making a very close pass until its second appearance. Band-rumped Storm-Petrels are nearing the end of their season with us, so we were very pleased to have at least two individuals show up with the Wilson's and make a few nice passes so that everyone aboard had a chance to see them.  The highlight for me, though, was a Black-capped Petrel that followed us in the slick for almost an hour feeding the entire time.  We see birds exhibit this behavior from time to time, but photos revealed this to be a white-faced individual in juvenal plumage (photo by Kate Sutherland)!
Spectacular find since young birds are rarely seen offshore here, at least we don't find many on our trips!  Then, another dark-faced bird came in to feed on the chum as well, and the size difference was noticeable with the naked eye - it was an excellent end to the day!  Right before we pulled up the chum, Brian stopped and we put out the rest of the shark liver...some Cory's flew in to join the Wilson's and Black-cappeds and a first summer Pomarine Jaeger followed giving us a nice show!
Overall it was a spectacular day out there!  On the way back to the dock we spotted a Manatee that I later found out has been seen around in the Pamlico Sound for the last month, a first for me!

Thank you to everyone who joined us and a big thanks to Jeff Lemons & Lev Frid for helping us lead the trip!  Also thanks to Amanda Guercio for allowing us to use some of her images here!

Trip List
Black-capped Petrel  47
Cory's Shearwater  67
Great Shearwater  8
Audubon's Shearwater  43
Wilson's Storm-Petrel  82-97
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel  2
Oceanodroma sp.  1
Red-necked Phalarope  3+
Bridled Tern  6
Black Tern  1
Long-tailed Jaeger  1
Pomarine Jaeger  1

Osprey  1
Northern Waterthrush  1
Bottlenose Dolphin  9
Atlantic Spotted Dolphin  3
Manatee!  1

Black-capped Petrel (Amanda Guercio)
A few images of the young Black-capped Petrel (Kate Sutherland)
A couple images of the two Black-cappeds feeding in the slick together (Kate Sutherland)
Wilson's Storm-Petrels in the slick (Amanda Guercio)
We had nice numbers of Wilson's for late August! (Kate Sutherland)
Ventral view of the first summer Pomarine Jaeger (Kate Sutherland)
& the Athens Highway...(Kate Sutherland)  We often see these car carriers offshore, and this one was headed from Baltimore, MD to Charleston, SC.

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