Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday May 22, 2017 - by Brian Patteson

One of the benefits of running daily trips for a couple of weeks each spring is seeing what happens from day to day as the sea conditions change and the winds shift with the passage of weather systems. On Saturday we had southwesterly wind and on Sunday we had wind from the north. This morning we had wind from the southeast. Light to moderate southeasters are good for birding here off Hatteras. It was a little choppy as we were heading out, but the wind diminished somewhat as we cruised farther offshore. By the time we reached the shelf break, it was pretty nice and the clouds made for easy scanning.
It did not take long to find some jaegers today. We had several Pomarines before we saw much of anything else and they were eager to follow us out to the deep. Audubon’s Shearwaters also made an early showing. Black-capped Petrels were not as numerous as yesterday, but after we got out around 500 fathoms were found good numbers (photo by Brian Patteson).
Within less than an hour of slowing down we had a good diversity of birds following the boat, so we decided to stop and drift with the chum. The drift worked quite well and attracted a variety of tubenoses, jaegers, and terns. We found our first Long-tailed Jaegers of the season today, and one of the first terns to visit us was a Roseate, complete with the pink flush (photos by Brian Patteson).
Arctic Terns were not far behind. A Band-rumped Storm-Petrel came in briefly and gave good views. By 10:00 the slick was hopping with birds and we had seen about 10 species of seabirds on it. A smaller gadfly petrel had been taunting us for a while staying out of range. Finally curiosity got the best of it and we had good views of our first Fea’s Petrel for 2017 (photo by Brian Patteson).
We were in some of the bluest water we have found this spring and the current was the current was brisk. After a couple of hours of drifting, we decided to get under way because the birds were scattered and many had gone to rest on the water. Within minutes we were visited by the season’s first South Polar Skua and Leach’s Storm-Petrel! (photo by Lev Frid)
As we worked back in slowly to the shelf break over the next couple of hours, we had a nice parade of birds in tow. We also added Great Shearwater to the day’s list, along with a couple of Parasitic Jaegers. We finished up just east of Diamond Shoals and had a nice ride back to the inlet, where we were able to slip in the east side making for a sort run home.

I would like to thanks our crew for today: Kate Sutherland, Ned Brinkley, Lev Frid, and Ed Corey. We also had a great group of participants, including some from overseas. We have some unsettled weather coming this week, but I am looking forward to getting out as much as we can this spring.

Trip List May 22, 2017
Fea's Petrel  1
Black-capped Petrel  40-45
Cory's Shearwater  33 (at least two of these looked to be Scopoli's)
Great Shearwater  1
Sooty Shearwater  14-15
Audubon's Shearwater  35
Wilson's Storm-Petrel  170-200
Leach's Storm-Petrel  1
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel  1
Oceanodroma sp.  3
Bridled Tern  4
Roseate Tern  1
Common Tern  2
Arctic Tern  9
South Polar Skua  1
Pomarine Jaeger  19-20
Parasitic Jaeger  1
Long-tailed Jaeger  3
jaeger sp.  1

swallow sp.  1

Pilot Whale (prob. Short-finned)  4-5
Bottlenose Dolphin  4
(List & captions by Kate Sutherland)
Ventral view of the Fea's Petrel (Brian Patteson)
Just to give you an idea of how close the Poms were... (Lev Frid)
Pomarine Jaeger by Brian Patteson
The Pilot Whales we saw were quite close, one large male even dove right next to the boat! (Lev Frid)
The afternoon was quite calm and we found some nice patches of sargassum, so we dipped some to see what we could find!  A large Sargassum Swimming Crab (Portunus sayi) was a nice one!  (Lev Frid)
Plus what I am quite certain are epiphytic hydroids visible on the sargassum (Lev Frid)
& one of the two species of shrimp, a Brown Grass Shrimp (Leander tenuicornis), that can also be found in the sargassum (Lev Frid)

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