Saturday, May 30, 2020

Saturday May 30, 2020 by Kate Sutherland

Our entrance to the ocean was a bit smoother this morning, though the skies were still overcast and rain was again in the forecast.  We had rain on our way to the shelf break and rain when we arrived and set out with the chum, but showers today were quick moving and conditions were totally different from 24 hours ago.  At the shelf break there was sargassum, and Audubon's Shearwaters - lots of Audubon's!  After only encountering one on our trip yesterday we were super excited to see small rafts of them scattered around as we worked our way offshore. (Kate Sutherland) 
Down current in the Gulf Stream made conditions different than if we had the wind with the current, and it was an interesting habitat to find - a little meander of Gulf Stream water.  Birds were more attentive to the chum and Black-capped Petrels came in to the slick especially well.  Storm-petrels were another plus, we easily doubled our count of Wilson's from previous trips this spring.  Two summer Band-rumpeds, what Brian and I call "little band-rumps" were a treat to see, the second was right on the shelf break where we sometimes find them. (Ed Corey) 
At least one Scopoli's Shearwater came to the slick late morning, the first of the spring for us!
Two Gervais' beaked whales popped up beside us around 1100 and conditions were calm enough to observe them surfacing before sounding.  (Kate Sutherland) 
The conditions continued to improve and by the time we were back on the shelf break the sun was shining!  Not much was flying on our way back to Hatteras Inlet, but we didn't mind trading that for a nice ride in!
Thanks to everyone who joined us today!  Thanks also to Kyle Kittelberger and Ed Corey for helping us lead the trip!  We'll see what the next two days bring, and will have a chance to write more when this little stretch of trips has ended!

Species List for May 30, 2020
Black-capped Petrel - 34
Cory's Shearwater - 49
Scopoli's Shearwater - 1
Cory's type - 2
Great Shearwater - 1
Sooty Shearwater - 1
Audubon's Shearwater - 307
Wilson's Storm-Petrel - 200
Leach's Storm-Petrel - 3
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel - 9
"little" Band-rumped - 2
Common Tern - 1
Cattle Egret - 1
Barn Swallow - 1
Gervais' beaked whale - 2
Offshore bottlenose dolphin - 38
Portuguese man-o-war - 3

An intermediate looking Black-capped Petrel (Kate Sutherland)
Most of the Cory's we saw today were Atlantic Cory's (borealis) (Kate Sutherland top), but we did have at least one Scopoli's Shearwater! (Ed Corey)
Audubon's Shearwaters were a highlight today! (Kate Sutherland)
Wilson's Storm-Petel (Kate Sutherland)
Most of the Band-rumps today were molting, presumed Grant's type (Kate Sutherland)
The Common Tern we had with us looked like a second summer and was content to feed with the storm-petrels in the slick! (Kate Sutherland)
An image showing the dorsal fin of one of the Gervas' beaked whales (aka Mesoplodon europaeus) (Kate Sutherland)
And Ed Corey captured this awesome shot of the offshore bottlenose dolphins!

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