Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Saturday September 8, 2018 - by Kate Sutherland

Late summer can be a good time to get offshore here, and it has certainly been good so far this year!  Diversity was excellent out there today and we ended the day with eleven pelagic species!  Not bad...not bad at all!  Conditions were calm as we headed offshore, but we had a Manx Shearwater fly by before we had even been in the ocean for 30 minutes (photo by Kate Sutherland). 
This, and the presence of Red-necked Phalaropes, Cory's type shearwaters, and Sooty Terns inshore of the shelf break had us wondering what we might turn up in the deeper water offshore.  The water was warm right up to the beach, so we did not see much of a temperature change today, and there was also not much current out there, but the water color varied and we definitely had some different patches of water, some with more life than others.  All of the shearwaters were seen well offshore today, we had nice views of Scopoli's and Atlantic Cory's, Great, and Audubon's Shearwaters.  Many of the Black-capped Petrels were just sitting around and we had excellent views as they flushed and flew by to check us out!  We had both light and dark faced types out there today (photo of white faced bird by Kate Sutherland). 
Wilson's Storm-Petrels were in short supply, but we did recruit a few to the slick for some close views!  Early in the day a gorgeous, dark Pomarine Jaeger came in to check out what we had to offer, and what some nearby Cory's had to offer, while in the afternoon we had a smaller jaeger fly by that photos (and views) revealed to be a Parasitic.  A small flock of Red-necked Phalaropes feeding in some sargassum sat nicely for us to approach, in contrast to the group that flew quickly past this morning.  Right at noontime we had a tropicbird take off from the water in the distance ahead of the boat.  We gave chase, but as it lifted into the clouds and flew east, it disappeared from view.  Frustrating, but that is how it goes sometimes!  Thankfully we found a group of shearwaters and a couple of Bridled Terns on our way back to the inlet that we slowed to photograph (photo by Kyle Kittelberger). 
As we began to think about picking up speed, I saw a white bird on the water ahead...it turned out to be a juvenile Red-billed Tropicbird!  Amazing!  We were about nine miles off of Cape Hatteras on the edge of Diamond Shoals in just 66 feet of water.  What an incredible end to the day! (photo by Brian Patteson)

Thank you so much to everyone who joined us out there today!  Also thank you to Kyle Kittelberger for helping to lead the trip and for contributing photos for this post!  Our next trip is September 22(23) and while that is full, we have space on all of our October trips.  They are on the 6(7), 13(14), and the 19 & 20 (two days).

Species List for September 8, 2018
Black-capped Petrel  30
Cory's Shearwater  10+
Scopoli's Shearwater  19+
Cory's type  115
Great Shearwater  4
Manx Shearwater  2
Audubon's Shearwater  35
Wilson's Storm-Petrel  19-20
Red-billed Tropicbird  1
tropicbird species  1
Red-necked Phalarope  30
phalarope species  3
Sooty Tern  6
Bridled Tern  6
Sooty/Bridled  5
Pomarine Jaeger  1
Parasitic Jaeger  1
Greater Yellowlegs  2
Western Sandpiper  1
caught 1 Wahoo & 1 Mahi mahi

A couple more Black-capped Petrel images, we found one individual feeding on something though I did not get close enough images to see what it was!  It was very interesting how approachable they were!  (Kate Sutherland)
One of the Atlantic Cory's grabbed a hold of some albacore belly we were dragging behind the boat!  (Kyle Kittelberger)
The Audubon's were very cooperative (Kyle Kittelberger)
Red-billed Tropicbird taking off (Kate Sutherland)
 Red-necked Phalaropes (Kate Sutherland)
Bridled Tern in the morning taking off from a life vest!  (Kate Sutherland)
Dark Pomarine Jaeger (Kyle Kittelberger)

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