Labor Day Weekend looked interesting with northeasterly winds on Saturday and light and variable winds on Sunday coupled with some easterly swell, so our hopes were high as we headed out into choppy seas on Saturday! The features for both days were shearwater flocks, these flocks were pretty easy to spot thanks to the Sooty Terns flying above most of them. We love beehives, the term we use for feeding flocks of seabirds, because you just never know what you might find in them. Luck was on our side and we had excellent views of a number of species in these flocks over the course of the weekend. In today's post I think we'll walk through each day, for while they had similarities in the form of these multi-species feeding flocks, each was also unique.
Saturday we had some wind so it was choppy and we headed in our usual direction to the south southeast in the morning. We started to see shearwaters and had a couple of Bridled Terns before we even reached the shelf break! Then we had what looked like a young Black-capped Petrel join us to check out the fish oil slick soon after we crossed into the slope waters. Interestingly enough, we had a couple of Black-cappeds with us at the end of the day as we approached the shelf! Usually these sharp looking gadfly petrels are in deeper water (Kate Sutherland).
By Sunday the wind had fallen out and we had calm seas. The Gulf Stream Current, which had been slack on Saturday (we even had reports of some down current), was again not running hard close to Hatteras (less than a knot), so we headed to the east! This put us a bit north of the ground we would usually cover and we were hoping to see what type of life was up there without running the risk of being swept too far to the north by the Gulf Stream. Again we had Cory's, Scopoli's, Cory's type (Kate Sutherland), and Audubon's Shearwaters on our way offshore.
Overall a great set of trips, and our last weekend of the year to run a couple back to back. The rest of our fall trips are Saturdays with an obligatory weather date on Sunday and we have space on our next departure on September 18 (19)! Thank you to everyone who joined us out there and a big thank you to our leaders, Ed Corey and Paul Laurent, for helping us out! Ed also contributed photos for this post, thanks, Ed!!
Species List for September 4 / 5
Black-capped Petrel - 37 to 40 / 26 to 27
Cory's Shearwater - 4 / 13
Scopoli's Shearwater - 29 / 14
Cory's / Scopoli's Shearwater - 118 / 415
Great Shearwater - 5 / 52 to 53
Audubon's Shearwater - 21 / 49
Wilson's Storm-Petrel - 86 / 93
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel - 2 to 3 / 0
Red-necked Phalarope - 11 to 12 / 2
Phalarope sp. - 0 / 1
Sooty Tern - 41 / 42 to 43
Bridled Tern - 2 / 4
Sooty / Bridled Tern - 0 / 3
Black Tern - 6 / 11
Pomarine Jaeger - 1 / 0
Long-tailed Jaeger - 1 / 2
American Redstart - 0 / 1 came aboard
Cuvier's Beaked Whale - 0 / 1
Atlantic Spotted Dolphin - 0 / 12 to 15
Silver-haired Bat - 0 / 1
Bat sp. - 0 / 1
Loggerhead Turtle - 0 / 1
Monarch - 0 / 2
Cloudless Sulphur - 3 / 7
Common Green Darner - 0 / 1
This Black-capped Petrel had very dark underwings! (Kate Sutherland)
As were Audubon's Shearwaters! This was a treat because sometimes these small black and white shearwaters can be a bit boat shy. (Ed Corey)