After cruising around north of Diamond Shoals with our attendant gull flock for most of the morning, we headed back to the shoals. A little after 1:30, Ed Corey started shouting "skua, skua, SKUA!!!!" and everyone rushed to catch a glimpse of this dark pirate of the seas as it flew by, deliberately searching for a candidate to harass as gulls quickly dispersed. I did not see the bird as it came down the port side, but many were in place to have a good look, including Yve, Reuben, & Victor! It flew off ahead of us, and while we hoped it might sit on the water for us to relocate, no such luck was had.
As we headed back to Hatteras Inlet, we did turn up two Iceland Gulls (kumlieni) that were very cooperative behind the boat flying close for excellent photo opportunities! One was a crisp looking first winter bird
The non-avian encounters for the day were quite spectacular with two Humpback Whales breaching in the morning offshore of Avon. They allowed us to approach for some incredible views of these awesome whales! Loggerhead turtles were out in good numbers as well, and I imagine had the conditions been a bit calmer, we could have seen many more! Most were nice, large adults on the surface near the boat.
here and join us for one!
Thank you to our leaders today, Jeff Lemons and Ed Corey, they worked really hard to get everyone on what we found. Thank you also to our Big Year Birders and everyone who joined us - we could not run these trips without you! All photos today are by Kate Sutherland.
December 29, 2017
List of species seen offshore
White-winged Scoter 6
Red-breasted Merganser 2
Red-throated Loon 3
Common Loon 2
loon sp. 1
Northern Gannet 410
Great Skua 1
Bonaparte's Gull 38
Laughing Gull 2
Ring-billed Gull at least 8
Herring Gull estimated 300
Iceland Gull (Kumliens) 2
Lesser Black-baked Gull estimated 45
Great Black-backed Gull estimated 175
Forster's Tern 4
A few more photos of the Iceland Gulls:
First winter, you can see the small, delicate looking bill in both of these images.
A nice adult Lesser Black-backed Gull - we had great views of all age classes!
Laughing Gull that flew by offshore