Sunday, August 27, 2017

August 25 & 26, 2017 - by Kate Sutherland

This year has not been the most cooperative in terms of weather, so as we had three trips approaching that were full, Brian and I were following the marine forecast closely.  It was going to be a little atypical for late summer, northeasterly winds, but that was good if it was not going to blow too hard!  Needless to say the forecasters were a little off and what we found on Friday offshore was a bit more wind than they called for, as it was for Saturday, but the birds were flying and we had an awesome showing over the two days we made it out there with a total of 12 pelagic species encountered!
Black-capped Petrels were around in good numbers on both days, but more so on Friday flying right in behind the boat to feed in the slick next to the Great and Cory's Shearwaters!  It was an amazing show, and so nice to see them performing in their element: wind! (photo by Peter Flood)
Everyone aboard had time to study the Cory's and Great Shearwaters flying around the boat and feeding as well, so closely at times that binoculars were not necessary to see the differences in bill color or plumage characteristics.  We did have some of the nominate Cory's, or Scopoli's Shearwaters on both trips, but Saturday's birds were more of the "textbook type" with the nice markings on the underprimaries. (photo by Kyle Kittelberger)
Audubon's Shearwaters were out there but not quite as common as the larger shearwaters, and as is typically the case when we encounter large seas, they can be a little tough to get an eye on!  We did have some come in to the slick each day so everyone had a chance for a nice look at one of these small black and white shearwaters if they were patient! (photo by Lucas Bobay)
I was excited to see how many Wilson's Storm-Petrels we were able to turn up as this is the time of year when they begin to thin out, but when we get the north and easterly winds like this, it can be good for them, and they did not disappoint!  Late August is also when the Band-rumped Storm-Petrel numbers begin to wane.  We only had a glimpse of one on Friday that did not stick around...but Saturday we were treated to some excellent views, including one that showed up in the slick just 15 miles off the beach! (photo by Peter Flood)
Friday we had our first juvenile tropical terns of the season and good looks at some adults as well, both Bridled and Sooty Terns, but for some reason on Saturday we were unable to turn up any close terns. (photo of juvie Sooty Tern by Lucas Bobay, juvie Bridled Tern by Kate Sutherland)
Okay, now for the unexpected visitors!  Friday we had a South Polar Skua fly right in to the boat, (photo by Lucas Bobay)
circle us, and then stay with us for awhile in the slick much to the dismay of our Black-capped Petrels!  It was amazing to watch a Black-capped pursue that skua in an attempt to chase it off!  A little over thirty minutes later a Fea's Petrel appeared in the slick behind us and flew right in, up the port side and then circled back to check out some extra chum I put out for it! (photo by Peter Flood)
 Everyone was able to get on the bird and get some nice views as it flew around with Black-capped Petrels and shearwaters, then it also took on the issue of the South Polar Skua!  Together with a Black-capped, the Fea's was hot on the skua's tail, just in case it had decided it was welcome in the area after the initial escort over 30 minutes earlier! (see last photo in post...!)
Then, on Saturday the shout went out just after 11 - "bird up high!!!" and sure enough, our first White-tailed Tropicbird of the year flew right to the boat, up high, checked us out, and headed on its way! (photo by Peter Flood)
Not before being counted as #700 for one of our salty crew, Gail Morris!  Congrats again Gail!  Overall it was an awesome set of trips, as you can tell, the weather did get us for Sunday, but we will be out there again next weekend for one more trip this summer, September 2, and we have some space left on that trip!
A huge thank you to everyone who joined us for these trips, we couldn't do it without you!  And a huge thank you as well to our leaders who helped Brian and I, Kyle Kittelberger, Peter Flood, and Lucas Bobay - thanks as well to them for sharing their photos for the blog!

Trip Lists August 25 / 26
Fea's Petrel  1 / 0
Black-capped Petrel  47 / 26
Cory's Shearwater  68 / 35 (*at least 5 Scopoli's Shearwaters each day, likely more)
Great Shearwater  100-105 / 74
Audubon's Shearwater  31 / 31
Wilson's Storm-Petrel  150 / 180
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel  1 / 3-4
White-tailed Tropicbird  0 / 1
Sooty Tern  4 / 1
Bridled Tern  6 / 0
Onychoprion sp.  3 / 2
South Polar Skua  1 / 0
Long-tailed Jaeger  0 / 1
jaeger sp.  1 / 0

peep sp.  1 / 1

Atlantic Spotted Dolphin  0 / 8
Bottlenose Dolphin  12 / 7-10

A couple more photos of the Fea's Petrel top by Kyle Kittelberger, bottom by Peter Flood
Black-capped Petrel by Peter Flood
Another shot of a Scopoli's Shearwater (Peter Flood)
Great Shearwater (Peter Flood)
Another shot of an Audubon's Shearwater (Peter Flood)
Adult Sooty Tern (Peter Flood)
A couple more images of the South Polar Skua!  (top by Kyle Kittelberger, bottom by Peter Flood)
& I almost forgot the South Polar Skua / Fea's Petrel photo!  by Peter Flood.....

No comments:

Post a Comment