May 20 & 21 (Saturday & Sunday)
Our pelagic trips from Hatteras this past weekend (5/20 & 21) were fairly productive, despite the fact that some of the species were in fairly low numbers. Jaegers and Arctic Terns were scarce, probably on account of a brisk and relentless southwest wind, and both Cory's and Greater Shearwaters have not yet really arrived in force. There were plenty of Sooty Shearwaters, Audubon's Shearwaters and Black-capped Petrels around each day though. Wilson's Storm-Petrels, though not as abundant as I expected them to be, were fairly numerous but Band-rumps were scarce and we didn't see any Leach's Storm-Petrels either day. Highlights included excellent views of both dark and light morph Herald (Trinidade) Petrels on Sunday and a Manx Shearwater that day as well. We also glimpsed a dark Herald Petrel on Saturday, but it was flying downwind some distance from the boat.
The bird list for both days follows. (For a complete list of birds seen on all of our Spring 2000 trips, click here.)
Sat., May 20/ Sun. May 21
BC Petrel- 133/ 203
Herald Petrel- 1/ 2
Cory's Shearwater- 1/ 10
Greater Shearwater- 2/ 2
Sooty Shearwater- 28/ 90
Manx Shearwater- 0/ 1
Audubon's Shearwater- 64/ 148
Wilson's Storm-Petrel- 79/ 148
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel- 1/ 2
Red-n. Phalarope- 1/ 3
Pomarine Jaeger- 1/ 2
Bridled Tern- 3/ 0
Sooty Tern- 0/ 19
Arctic Tern- 2/ 0
Besides these species listed above, early June is a good time for Fea's Petrel, Leach's Storm-Petrel, Long-tailed Jaeger, and South Polar Skua. We also heard of some tropicbirds seen by the fishing fleet this past weekend. I'd like to thank everyone who helped out this weekend with leading and counting the birds- Capt. Spurgeon Stowe, Butch Pearce, Jamie Cameron, George Armistead, Todd McGrath, Diane Andre, and Kate Sutherland. With the exception of Todd, this crew should also be aboard in early June. I hope that some of you can join us then.
May 26, 27, 28, & 29 (Friday - Monday)
I know that many of you are keen to know how the pelagic trips from the Outer Banks went over Memorial Day Weekend, so hereís a brief account of the highlights and a list of birds seen on the FOUR trips that my group ran. Please note that the trip from Hatteras on Monday was NOT weathered out as some thought.
We began on Friday, May 26 with a trip from Oregon Inlet (departing Pirateís Cove) on the Country Girl with Capt. Allan Foreman. The weather on this day and the following two days was beautiful. In addition to a seeing a good number and diversity of pelagics on Friday we found and photographed a Bermuda Petrel. This was our third spring sighting of this species, which numbers just over 200 individuals, and it was the best study yet of one at sea. The bird on Friday showed no fear of the boat, and we followed it at a leisurely 15 knots for several minutes. Saturdayís trip on the Miss Hatteras with Capt. Spurgeon Stowe was very productive for gadfly petrels. We found two Herald (Trinidade) Petrels, each of which we approached closely as they rested on the water in about 1000 fathoms, and we then had brief views of both a Feaís Petrel and another Bermuda Petrel in about 100 fathoms. Unfortunately these birds were moving by with a pulse of Black-capped Petrels and did not stay around long enough for more than a few people to see them. We also saw a Feaís Petrel which buzzed by distantly on Sundayís trip from Hatteras. Mondayís trip didnít feature any rarities but we did have a spectacular seabird show in the 20-25 knot winds that day. We left the dock at 0630 and by 1030 we had seen nearly 150 Black-capped Petrels, over 250 Wilsonís Storm-Petrels, and over 300 Audubonís Shearwaters. The wind forced us to return a bit early that day, but it didnít get really windy south of Cape Hatteras until the afternoon.
In addition to the pelagic seabirds listed below, we saw a handful of other bird species way offshore including Barn Swallows (daily), Great Blue Herons (5 one day!), an Osprey, a Northern Waterthrush, and a Mourning Warbler, among others. We saw several Sperm Whales on Fridayís trip, and we also saw Bottlenose Dolphins, Pilot Whales, and a handful of beaked whales.
Mike Toveís trip from Oregon Inlet on Sunday found one Bermuda Petrel and one Herald Petrel, each seen briefly, but fairly close to the boat. Thus the tally for the weekend was two Bermuda Petrels and one Herald Petrel for Oregon Inlet trips and one Bermuda Petrel, two Feaís Petrels, and two Herald Petrels for Hatteras trips, with three trips run from each port. Unfortunately, only about a third of these birds were well seen by all of the participants, but that the way it goes with these fast flying Pterodromas.
(For a complete list of birds seen on all of our Spring 2000 trips, including June 2-4, click here.)
Black-capped Petrel- 165/ 148/ 91/ 199
BERMUDA PETREL- one seen well by all on May 26, one seen by a few on May 27
FEAíS PETREL- one each seen by a few on May 27 and 28
HERALD PETREL- two seen well by all on May 27
Cory's Shearwater- 24/ 37/ 57/ 85
Greater Shearwater- 3/ 0/ 1/ 1
Sooty Shearwater- 1/ 2/ 1/ 1
Manx Shearwater- 0/ 0/ 2/ 4
Audubon's Shearwater- 338/ 259/ 87/ 370
Wilson's Storm-Petrel- 314/ 246/ 157/ 297
Leachís Storm-Petrel- 10/ 45/ 2/ 0
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel- 8/ 51/ 5/ 1
Red-n. Phalarope- 0/ 3/ 0/ 3
Pomarine Jaeger- 2/ 2/ 0/ 5
Long-tailed Jaeger- one first summer on May 26
Bridled Tern- 3/ 0/ 5/ 0
Sooty Tern- 0/ 0/ 32/ 19
Arctic Tern- 2/ 1/ 3/ 0
Our trip this Friday from Oregon Inlet is full, but we still have room on both of our trips from Hatteras this weekend. The Hatteras trips leave from Odenís Dock at 0630 and usually return around 1700-1730. Each trip is $85 per person. Participants should arrive no later than 0615. At this point we still have room on all of our summer and fall trips.
I hope to see many of you this weekend or later in the season.