May Pelagic Results 1994 - 1998

As you will see by studying the following charts, each trip is different, and even consecutive trips may produce very different bird lists, even when they visit the same localities offshore. Where there were hundreds of birds one day, there may be only a handful the next. Birds follow food offshore, and when their food source disappears, they do too. With this in mind, we cannot overstress the value of signing up for more than one pelagic trip when you come to the Outer Banks, particularly if you do not have many opportunities to visit the area. While it is rare, we are occasionally weathered out, and a second trip is good insurance for getting offshore during your visit. But even when the weather is good, another trip means that you have a better chance to see the birds that you want to see, particularly if you are looking for the less common species. Remember also, when you look at the following charts, that just because one or two Band-rumped Storm-Petrels were seen on one day does not mean that everyone on the boat saw them to their satisfaction. We always do our best to get everyone onboard "onto the birds", but in some cases the birds fly away quickly. While we do use fast boats and, in some cases, we can successfully pursue fleeing birds, there are some days when the sea conditions limit our movements and ability to get closer. With these things in mind, don't be discouraged, but do have realistic expectations before you get on the boat. And don't forget to study beforehand; pelagic birds often fly by for a close look, but they may not stay long enough for the trip leaders to point out all of their field marks.

It is worth noting that during the 1990s we did not chum as extensively as we do now.  A higher percentage of the gadfly petrels we saw back then were seen more distantly or fleetingly than is generally the case now, when they often come to investigate our fish oil slicks.  We are probably also a bit more confident in identifying them nowadays too. 

May 14 - May 27

Location HNC HNC MNC MNC HNC HNC HNC HNC HNC HNC HNC HNC
Date 5/14/94 5/20/95 5/22/98 5/23/97 5/23/98 5/24/97 5/24/98 5/25/96 5/25/98 5/26/96 5/26/97 5/27/95
Common Loon     6 7 20 5 9   0   2  
Black-capped Petrel 26 109 111 61 36 111 42 42 33 22 33 75
Bermuda Petrel                   1    
Trinidade Petrel         2 1       1 prob. 1  
Fea's Petrel   2 prob.   1 1 prob.       1 prob.      
Cory's Shearwater 5   25 48 52 35 33 30 28 28 44 108
Greater Shearwater     2 1 2   5   1     9
Sooty Shearwater 2     72 2 155 0 12 4 12 40 37
Manx Shearwater           1 prob.            
Audubon's Shearwater 7 25 5 12 7 19 5 52 19 38 81 31
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 96 30 46 56 219 57 181 99 197 90 85 115
Leach's Storm-Petrel 7 3 6 6 22 26 16 2 9 4 8 7
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel   1     1 5 3 7 3 3 1 24
Oceanodroma sp.           7            
White-tailed Tropicbird                        
Red-billed Tropicbird         1              
Northern Gannet         2  
Red-necked Phalarope 26   1 7 1   8 1        
Red Phalarope 23                      
Phalarope sp.   2                    
Pomarine Jaeger 4   1 1 1 1     4 2 3 5
Parasitic Jaeger             2          
Long-tailed Jaeger 1                   1 1
Jaeger sp. 2     1               2
South Polar Skua           1           2
Skua sp.           1            
Common Tern 7 109 12 0 15 1 5 30 17
Arctic Tern 4   1               2 3
Bridled Tern 12     2   2 1 1 1   3  
Sooty Tern         1              
Sterna sp. (white)               12        

May 27 - May 31

Location HNC HNC HNC HNC HNC MNC MNC HNC HNC HNC
Date 5/27/96 5/28/94 5/28/95 5/29/94 5/29/95 5/29/98 5/30/97 5/30/98 5/31/97 5/31/98
Common Loon           4 1 17   1
Black-capped Petrel 39 110 97 28 28 102 2 42 14 20
Bermuda Petrel           1        
Trinidade Petrel 1 prob.     3 1 prob.       1 prob.  
Fea's Petrel     1 prob.   1 prob. 1       1
Cory's Shearwater 70 89 93 78 67 117 28 82 100 34
Greater Shearwater 1 4 2 5 2 32 9 7 15 8
Sooty Shearwater 2 5 22 7 9 1 4 4 1 3
Manx Shearwater                    
Audubon's Shearwater 98 66 6 22 9 75 11 236 17 29
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 118 48 61 35 83 151 82 166 209 105
Leach's Storm-Petrel 1   25 5 40 24 14 136 1 21
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel 9 2 6 1 28 10   8 3 2
Oceanodroma sp.                    
White-tailed Tropicbird     1   1       1 1
Red-billed Tropicbird         1          
Northern Gannet         1 5 9
Red-necked Phalarope 1 2 1         3    
Red Phalarope                    
Phalarope sp.   5                
Pomarine Jaeger 1 2 9 11 4 4   3 4 5
Parasitic Jaeger     3 1 1       1  
Long-tailed Jaeger 1 1 1   2   2     1
Jaeger sp. 1   3   7   1   1  
South Polar Skua     1           1  
Skua sp.                 1  
Common Tern 62   14 15 16 2 3 0
Arctic Tern     3   1 6 2   1  
Bridled Tern 2         13   14   2
Sooty Tern   3                
Sterna sp. (white)                    

= Seen but numbers not recorded.

Prob. = Probable, thought to be this species, but due to distance, lighting conditions, brevity of observation or a combination of these factors, not identified to species with 100% certainty (i.e., Trinidade Petrel prob. = dark Pterodroma, Fea's Petrel prob. = P. feae/madeira complex).

HNC= Hatteras, NC; NENC= North East NC; WNC = Wanchese, NC; VB = Virginia Beach, VA