Saturday, June 10, 2023

Risso's Dolphins in the Blue Desert 10 June 2023

Another day with high pressure and a high ceiling! Always tough conditions for seabirding in the Gulf Stream here offshore from Hatteras. We had light winds most of the day and sunny skies. Birds were slow to come to the slick but we finally recruited some Wilson's Storm-Petrels plus we had some Black-capped Petrels come check us out too. Band-rumpeds were not as cooperative as yesterday but we did have at least three individuals make some close passes. One highlight was participant Doug Hanna finding a small pod of Risso's Dolphins out in the deep! This is the first time we have seen them this spring and they were super cooperative giving us some great views. 

The trip report can be found here: 

And a big thank you to Ed Corey and Mario Balitbit for helping us lead the trip today! ~Kate Sutherland

A few images of the Risso's Dolphins I took today. Older individuals are paler than younger ones, and this species has tall, falcate dorsal fins. We had some young and old today! As they age they also have more scaring from other individuals and also from prey species like squid.

This image is actually several moments later than the one above! Interesting to see how some of these younger animals stayed close together.
It was also a good day for flyingfish...!

Friday, June 9, 2023

A Day in the Blue Desert - 9 June 2023

If you have been offshore with us in the past, you have heard me likely explaining the habitat in the Gulf Stream offshore from Hatteras! This water is hot and has just pockets of life with mostly a vast expanse of blue water, blue because it is lacking phytoplankton and other creatures to intercept the light as it moves down into the depths. So it is like a desert - a vast, blue desert. Today we felt that as we searched the horizon for birds as we moved out past the shelf break. Like yesterday we kept searching for some concentrations of birds in the morning and ended up in over 7,800 feet of water!! Our patience and watchful eyes paid off and we ended up with a nice collection of birds and some really incredible views of the usual visitors. 

Check out the trip report here:
And remember to click on the photos tab to see images from the day!

Thanks to everyone who joined us and thank you as well to Ed Corey and Jesse Anderson, some of our faithful NC leaders, for helping Brian and me lead the trip today!

Here are a few images I captured today

Not every day you can capture a Band-rumped with a diving Great Shearwater!
A couple more images of one of the molting Band-rumpeds we had out there near the end of the day.
A Black-capped Petrel, likely a darker individual.
Some of the Atlantic Cory's we're seeing have super worn outer primaries! You can see these look very blunt due to the wear.
Our faithful Wilson's dancing for us as they fed in the slick!

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Hungry Birds - 8 June 2023

We were lucky that the rain moved through before we had to be at the dock this morning, and that it wasn't waiting just offshore for us...but it did push some birds farther offshore. Luckily we made it out there in some nice conditions, all the way out the 1,300 fathoms (7,800 feet)! And we did pick up some birds once we started chumming. While we didn't find anything unexpected we did have really great views of both forms of Black-capped Petrel, excellent views of both Cory's and Scopoli's Shearwaters, and really cooperative Band-rumped Storm-Petrels both molting (presumed Grant's type) and not molting. 

You can find the trip report for the day here: 
and remember to click on the tab for photos to see images from myself and leader Jesse Anderson!

Thanks so much to everyone who joined us out there today and to Jesse for helping Brian and me lead the trip. ~Kate Sutherland

It was really cool to see some of our usual suspects diving for chum out there today! Here are a couple - Great Shearwater (top two) and Wilson's Storm-Petrel (bottom two), from my images today.
Here are a couple of the non molting Band-rumped - top two over a flock of Wilson's feeding and bottom one a dorsal view.
We also saw this gorgeous (but to be admired from afar...) Portuguese Man of War out there today!

Sunday, June 4, 2023

White-tailed Tropicbird and Trindade Petrel!! 3 June 2023

The final day of our Spring Blitz was another good one! We've been really lucky on the days we've been able to make it offshore, if only the weather had been a bit more cooperative...but we'll take 8 out of 15! More fog and northerly wind, but not quite as much current as previous days so it was actually quite nice out there. We had nicer Gulf Stream water too and the skies cleared up once we were offshore of the shelf. Within an hour we had really nice views of both a White-tailed Tropicbird and a dark morph Trindade Petrel - WOW! Shearwaters are also here so we had great views of Cory's, Scopoli's, Great, Sooty, and Audubon's in the slick. And Band-rumped Storm-Petrels have also begun to show well so everyone on board practiced their identification skills in the stern and hopefully had them down by the end!

The trip report from eBird can be found here - reminder to click the tab for photos to see those taken by us.

Thank you so much to Steve Howell and Liam Waters for contributing photos and for helping Brian and me lead the trip today! - Kate Sutherland

The White-tailed Tropicbird stayed with us for awhile giving everyone ample opportunity to photograph it with camera or even cell phones!! (K. Sutherland)
Liam spotted this Trindade Petrel coming in on the bow while we were on a slick - here is one of the images he captured! (Liam Waters)
He also got a couple of photos of the Scopoli's Shearwater that came in at the same time as the tropicbird - here are ventral and dorsal views - note the extensive white in the under primaries! (Liam Waters)
A couple of presumed Grant's type Band-rumped Storm-Petrels (Liam Waters) each with at least a couple of old primaries.

Friday, June 2, 2023

Euro and a Red-billed Tropicbird! 2 June 2023

Another good, spring day out there even if it feels like March! We still have some north wind here...!
Red-billed Tropicbird on the shelf in the morning and then a brief encounter with a European Storm-Petrel in the afternoon - what more could we ask for?? Really awesome looks at Leach's and Band-rumped Storm-Petrels in addition to our Wilson's? And high diversity of flyingfishes?? Yes - all of that too.

Our trip report can be found at this link:

Remember to hit the photos tab for those! In the meantime, here are a few from today by myself (Kate) and Steve Howell. Thanks to Steve and Liam Waters for helping us lead the trip today!!

Red-billed Tropicbird!! (K. Sutherland)
And the Euro - a record shot since it was not really very cooperative... (K. Sutherland)
Today a great flyingfish show, with numerous immature stages such as Sargassum Midget, Purple Bandwing, plus lots of larger fish whose field ID remains vexed - Steve Howell
And one of the Roseate Terns we saw was even catching some fliers!! Steve captured this awesome image!
A couple of birds diving to feed on our chum - Great Shearwater and Wilson's Storm-Petrel (Kate Sutherland)

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Shearwaters are Here! 1 June 2023

We had some fog and north wind to deal with this morning...not typical of June here in Hatteras! But the Great Shearwaters still showed up here pretty much on time with a nice following flock feeding in the chum for most of the time we were offshore of the shelf break. This is the first trip of the spring we've had a good shearwater flock; with the Greats were some Sooties - Cory's, Scopoli's, Manx, and Audubon's all at least flew by the slick and a few paused to give us some nice views. It was awesome out there! Just after 1130 Bob Flood spotted a dark morph Trindade Petrel by the boat in the glare, everyone had a chance to see it - then keeping up the dark theme we had a South Polar Skua buzz our shearwater flock right at the end of the day! It was definitely one to remember... Thanks to Steve Howell and Liam Waters for helping us lead the trip!

Check out the list below and remember that you can click on the photo tab to see some images from the day.

And a few images from today (K. Sutherland)
Not the best but got an identifiable image of the Trindade Petrel
The other exciting, dark bird - South Polar Skua with Cory's type Shearwater by Steve Howell
White-faced Black-cap
Atlantic Cory's with dark under primaries, a big bill, and dark markings in the underwing coverts
Record shot of a Scopoli's showing white in the outer under primaries, specifically p10
And a couple by Steve Howell showing ventral and dorsal
Great Shearwaters were quite photogenic in the chum!
Here you can see the mottled underwings and the dark belly patch!
Sooty Shearwaters were also super cooperative! These young birds looked sleek and healthy
Wilson's Storm-Petrels were around in good numbers today!
And we saw this bird too! Maybe they wanted to see what we had following in the slick...