Light westerly winds greeted us this morning and we ran offshore in just a bit of swell. We made good time on our run to the shelf and we slowed down a little before 0800. Black-cappeds were checking out our slick almost right after we slowed and we had our first Band-rumped Storm-Petrel in the 0800 period (Kate Sutherland).
They're finally beginning to show up and it was nice to see our "miniature Black-cappeds" making their passes close to the boat and farther back in the slick. Everyone was able to spend some time getting familiar with their wing shape, flight, and feeding behavior. We only encountered the larger, molting "Grant's" type today. Bottlenose Dolphins and Pilot Whales were also right there when we slowed down. There was even some interaction between the two species while we were observing them right next to the boat!
As I was watching a Band-rumped behind us just before 1100, a Fea's Petrel flew through my field of view!! What?!?!?!? How did one sneak up on us on such a calm day? Well it did, and no matter because it made some incredible passes for us and no one could possibly miss it! Participant Chris Thomas shared a couple of his photos with us:
We had it flying with Black-cappeds and Cory's Shearwaters and the study in size, shape, and flight style was perfect. One more species for the Blitz!
Around noon some shearwaters and petrels were seen up ahead flying around, but not really in a feeding flock, they looked a bit more agitated. The reason flew in to visit us in the form of a nice South Polar Skua - yeah - other birds are not too fond of them sometimes! It was super cooperative and we saw it well a couple of times. Earlier in the day we had witnessed a Parasitic Jaeger chasing a Black-capped Petrel, the tables were turned there for a few minutes! Not very close, but here is an image I captured!
On the way back inshore to the inlet there was a young Red-billed Tropicbird that we jumped off the water!! One more species for the Blitz! It flew directly away from us, and though we gave chase, it won and we just had some distant and fleeting views. Oh well, maybe we can find it or another one out there tomorrow. Not a bad day with calm seas if we can see 16 pelagic species!
Thanks to everyone who joined us out there - we had a few five day trippers who really did well on their trips, including leader Jacob Farmer! Thanks to Ed Corey and Jacob for helping Brian and I lead the trip today. The winds will be different tomorrow, so we'll see what we can turn up!
*All photos today by Kate Sutherland except the Fea's Petrels above by Chris Thomas!
Species List for May 24, 2021
Fea's Petrel - 1
Black-capped Petrel - 35 to 36
Cory's Shearwater (Atlantic) - 51
Cory's type Shearwater - 6
Great Shearwater - 3
Sooty Shearwater - 19
Manx Shearwater - 1
Audubon's Shearwater - 31
Wilson's Storm-Petrel - 160 to 170
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel - 5 to 8
Red-billed Tropicbird - 1
Red-necked Phalarope - 4
South Polar Skua - 1
Pomarine Jaeger - 2
Parasitic Jaeger - 2
jaeger sp. - 1
Arctic Tern - 1
Common Tern - 3
Pilot Whale (probably Short-finned) - 15+
Bottlenose Dolphin (offshore population) - 26+
Loggerhead Turtle - 1
Portuguese Man-of- War - 1
Fea's Petrel - a couple more images!
Black-capped Petrel dropping in to feed on the chum
Sooty Shearwater with some natural food - maybe a piece of squid?