Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spotting on the Stormy Petrel II part 2

Spotting on the Stormy Petrel II

For the second time I enthusiastically jumped at the opportunity to spot on one of  Brian Patteson's Pelagic trips out of Cape Hatteras.  The first time was last August, but I actually have more experience off shore in the wintertime, so I felt relatively qualified.

Of course everybody wants an albatross now, so meeting expectations is tough!

No albatross, but we ended up having an awesome day for birds.  Great Skua is almost always the top (reasonable) target and we had decent looks at two!  There were more Manx Shearwaters around than I had ever seen with as many as four visible at a time and a count for the trip around 20.  A few flocks of Red Phalaropes made a brief showing as well.

But the alcid numbers on the trip were absurd.  They were, roughly: 1000 Razorbills, 100 Dovekies and 10 Atlantic Puffins. (edit--official alcid counts were: 2000 Razorbills, 232 Dovekies, and 15 puffins).
Immature Atlantic Puffin

To me those numbers say there should have been 1 Murre out there somewhere to fill out the 10-fold alcid dilution ratio.  Sadly I wasn't able to spot one. 

 My proud moment instead came from spotting an odd bird in the Hitchcockian gull flock (fortunately they're just after chum and not us)...

See anything unusual?
 That's right an Iceland Gull!  I had never seen an adult before, so while not a tick, I still felt like this was a "lifer."

Adult Iceland Gull - it has some faint gray in the wingtips making it a kumlieni
More details on this trip can be found at Brian's Seabirding blog. A big thanks to Brian and Kate for having me aboard.

After the successful pelagic, Ed Corey was nice enough to me up for the night at Jockey's Ridge State Park.  Early the next morning, before heading onto Mattamuskeet (where I would stumble upon a White-faced Ibis), Mark Koseiwski and I ventured out into the dunes to find a flock of four Snow Buntings.
Snow Buntings
I had been trying to see this species at the coast of NC all winter, so I was glad to finally see this little flock!

Hopefully I'll get back out to Hatteras once the spring/summer season starts up...