Saturday, June 24, 2017

Friday June 23, 2017 - by Kate Sutherland

Two weeks is a long time without a seabirding trip and I'm always excited to get back out to the deeper water offshore here!  I rode along on a few fishing trips since our last outing and while it was nice, and we had some shearwaters and a couple of young Long-tailed Jaegers, I always am thinking about what is out past the shelf break, what the Black-capped Petrels are up to, and if the Band-rumpeds are out there like our last trip...  So I was really excited to see our participants Friday morning bright and early, all of us ready to get out there and see what we could find!  There has not been a good temperature map since about June 18th since our weather has been cloudy and unsettled, so we were not sure where the hot water was, but had seen some Sargassum on Thursday's fishing trip, and had an idea that with the southerly winds some of the birds associated with that habitat might show up.  It was just offshore of the shelf break that we found our first nice condition, and turned to follow an edge that had some Sargassum lined up along I stepped in the wheelhouse to check our location and water temp, someone shouted "terns!!  there are some terns back here!"  Sure enough, two adult Bridled Terns had flown right in to the boat and were hovering and making passes near the stern and then around the boat! (photo Kate Sutherland)
A tough act to follow right at the beginning of the day!  But as we worked our way offshore we were treated to close views of Cory's, Great, and Audubon's Shearwaters plus a few Wilson's Storm-Petrels began to follow in the fish oil slick.  Our first Black-capped Petrel was a distant one and we hoped to have a closer look as the day went on, but they were tough to see today and it was not until the winds picked up in the afternoon that we had some nice looks at these tropical Pterodromas flying by.  They were just not very hungry, so mostly checked out the slick and moved on.  Our shearwaters, on the other hand, were much more attentive in the slick and we had some hungry Great Shearwaters behind the boat for most of the afternoon, (photo Kate Sutherland)
diving and feeding on the fresh frozen fish we had to offer!  Band-rumped Storm-Petrels were not around like they were on our last trip, but at least we had some nice views of a couple that came to check out the slick.  Audubon's were around in good numbers and we had some close views of them foraging in the sargassum. (photo Brian Patteson)
At the end of the day we had two of the nominate type of Cory's, also known as Scopoli's Shearwater, feeding behind the boat.  Everyone was able to get good looks at this slightly smaller type of Cory's, and they were even cooperative in showing us the white in their underprimaries! (photo Kate Sutherland)
While we did not have any close looks at jaegers today, we did have a few distant individuals that flew by, with only one that looked to be identifiable as a Long-tailed.

Thank you so much to everyone who joined us today!  It was a great group and everyone was looking all day, making sure we didn't miss anything!  Our trip for Saturday was weathered out, but our next set of trips will be coming up on July 7 & 8!  Join us!

Trip List June 23, 2017
Black-capped Petrel  7
Cory's Shearwater  31 (2 of these were Scopoli's)
Great Shearwater  43-45
Audubon's Shearwater  40
Wilson's Storm-Petrel  29
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel  2-3
Bridled Tern  2
Long-tailed Jaeger  1
jaeger sp.  2

A nice comparison of Cory's and Great Shearwaters head on, you can see the difference in the head color and bill color here (Kate Sutherland)
A few more photos of the Scopoli's Shearwaters from the end of the day, one showed more white in the underprimaries than the other (Kate Sutherland)
The dorsal view of one of these individuals (Kate Sutherland)
Another shot of one of the Bridled Terns (Kate Sutherland)

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