President's Day Weekend started out with a strong blow from the northeast on Saturday, so we pushed the trips to Sunday and Monday, and it worked out quite well. We did lose a couple of weekends entirely to weather this winter, but we've also had more calm days than usual, and Sunday was no exception to that. A beautiful sky greeted us as we pulled out of the Fishing Center and headed toward the Basnight bridge on Day One.
It seemed that some puffins were overdue, and knowing they sometimes stay a little farther out to sea, I pressed farther eastward. Within minutes we had our first puffins, and our first five alcid day off the Outer Banks since 2018. By the time we made it 20 miles offshore, we were seeing small flocks of puffins and it was obvious that it was going to be a big day for them.
The satellite photo from Rutgers showed some warmer water a few miles to the east, so we continued on our way and eventually came upon a temperature break from mid 50s to about 60 degree water. It turned out to be a good spot. There were about a dozen Northern Fulmars sailing around this area, as well as a flock of Bonaparte's Gulls and one adult Little Gull. It wasn't an optimal spot for phalaropes, but we did eventually see a pair of Red Phalaropes there, and had a non avian bonus sighting of a Kemp's Ridley! Most of the sea turtles we find offshore in winter are Loggerheads, so it was pretty neat to get the Kemp's, which differs by being plain brown instead of the warmer more orange hue of the Loggerhead. There were also plenty of puffins around the change, including one flock of eight!
There was a bit of activity near the inlet as we approached the sea buoy, making for a fitting ending to what had been two action packed days from start to finish, I would like to thanks everyone who came out and made these trips possible and also our crew who worked non stop to make sure nothing was missed: Ed Corey, Jeff Effinger, and Jesse Anderson all did a top notch job.