After a week and a half of winds out of the Northeast, the brisk westerly blow this morning gave us completely different conditions for tacking offshore. The jog out to the deeper water was interspersed with visits from several species of shearwaters heading north, including Sooty, Manx, and Cory’s. These migrating tubenoses gave us hope for an exciting day on a wind that can occasionally be a bit challenging for pelagic diversity.
Reaching the shelf break around 8, we began to coax in Wilson’s Storm-Petrels to our slick, gathering a robust flock behind the boat in short order. Audubon’s Shearwaters were on the move, working into the wind and showing us why they earned the nickname “Pseudo-droma”, as their arcing is strongly reminiscent of a small gadfly petrel. A couple of Great Shearwaters found our chum block, providing a great comparison with the superficially similar Black-capped Petrels.
Around 1030, a darker gadfly approached from starboard, checking out the crowd. This dark-morph Trindade Petrel gave all on board excellent looks as it made multiple passes before heading back out to sea (Kate Sutherland).
A short time later, and some excited pointing overhead and shouting led to our first White-tailed Tropicbird of the Blitz! It hovered above us for several minutes, occasionally venturing out ahead of us, only to come back within view, its honey-colored tail streamers glowing against the clear sky (Kate Sutherland).
A little after noon, Kate spotted a larger storm-petrel working its way up the slick. As we slowed down to assess the situation, a Band-rumped Storm-Petrel came powering in, giving all of our passengers an excellent chance to study the difference in flight styles between this species and the nearly ubiquitous Wilson’s. The start of some primary molt on this bird pointed towards a Grant’s Band-rumped, versus the smaller Madeiran-type we sometimes see off of Hatteras.
(Thanks to everyone who joined us out there today and thanks to Ed Corey and Jacob Farmer for helping us lead the trip - and a big one to Ed for writing the blog and contributing photos! -k8)
Species List for May 23, 2021
Trindade Petrel - 1 dark morph
Black-capped Petrel - 35 to 38
Cory's Shearwater (Atlantic) - 66
Cory's type Shearwater - 2
Great Shearwater - 4 to 5
Sooty Shearwater - 64 to 65
Manx Shearwater - 6
Audubon's Shearwater - 34
Wilson's Storm-Petrel - 190 to 220
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel - 3
Red-necked Phalarope - 5
White-tailed Tropicbird - 1
Pomarine Jaeger - 4
Parasitic Jaeger - 1
Long-tailed Jaeger - 1
jaeger sp. - 2
Arctic Tern - 6
Common Tern - 2
Common/Arctic Tern - 1
Bottlenose Dolphin (offshore population) - 32+
Dorsal view of the Trindade Petrel (Kate Sutherland)
Black-capped Petrel with a ship in the background, then closer (Kate Sutherland)
Great Shearwater having an interaction with one of our Pomarine Jaegers over the chum block (Kate Sutherland)
Dorsal view of Great Shearwater (Ed Corey)
Pomarine Jaeger (Ed Corey)