Monday, May 27, 2019

Monday May 27, 2019 - by Peter Flood

Today was not yesterday.  Nor will it be tomorrow.  The day to day fluctuations in wind speed, wind direction, sea state, currents, weed lines and species diversity is exquisitely exemplified along the western edge of the Gulf Stream off Hatteras, NC.  Today we exited Hatteras Inlet under delightful conditions sailing beneath mostly sunny skies with light southwesterly winds and 2-4 foot seas with some higher swell.

Things started off with a quick bang with a northeast bound South Polar Skua just a few miles outside the inlet. Several Cory's Shearwaters and a couple of Sooty Shearwaters kept us company until we arrived at the shelf edge. At the shelf edge we were able to chum in a few storm-petrels but the real superstars of the early morning low sunlight were the Black-capped Petrels - where both white-faced and dark faced types showed beautifully. (photo Peter Flood)
A couple of Band-rumped Storm-Petrels eventually turned up in the chum slick but kept their distance as did most of the storm-petrels today.  (photo Peter Flood)

Around noon time there was a fairly abrupt wind shift to the north/northeast which unfortunately ended up not doing much for species diversity. 

As we were coming to the end of our westbound tack, we had two Cory's Shearwaters along with a Scopoli's Shearwater all feeding together in the chum slick which provided ample opportunity for study between these two taxa. The more delicately built, smaller billed and headed Scopoli's showed well against its larger cousins.  Additionally the classic Scopoli's underwing pattern was visibly apparent and captured nicely in the photos below: (photo Kate Sutherland)
*Spaces are still available on select trips through June 2, 2019. Thanks to everyone who joined us out there today and thank you to our spotters and leaders Steve NG Howell and Peter Flood.  And thanks to Peter for writing the blog! - Kate*

Species List for May 27, 2019
Black-capped Petrel - 27 to 28
Cory's Shearwater - 36
Scopoli's Shearwater - 1
Sooty Shearwater - 6
Audubon's Shearwater - 16 to 17
Wilson's Storm-Petrel - 36 to 40
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel - 4
South Polar Skua - 3
peep sp. - 1
Bottlenose Dolphin - 1
Atlantic Spotted Dolphin - 3

Black-capped Petrel (Peter Flood)
Dorsal view of the Scopoli's Shearwater (Kate Sutherland)
One of the South Polar Skuas we saw today (Peter Flood)
We also saw at least five types of flyingfishes today!  Here are photos of some Sargassum Midgets (top) and a Atlantic Patchwing (bottom) (Kate Sutherland)
& finally, some of our regulars with Steve...the Steurer brothers and David Crowe have been heading offshore with Brian for years, so it was nice to see them this Memorial Day weekend!  They even dragged a friend along.  L to R - Steve Howell (CA), Todd Easterla (CA), Tim Steurer (CA), Fritz Steurer (CA), and David Crowe (NC).

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