Thursday, June 4, 2015

June 3 & 4, 2015 VENT Charter (by Steve NG Howell)

The past two days, June 3-4, we had a charter with a Victor Emanuel Nature Tours group led by Michael O’Brien. Both days offshore were great, but quite different from each other – as is typical of any two days offshore in the Gulf Stream. Both days featured some morning rain, but then cleared off, the first day mostly cloudy and mostly calm, the second day with a pleasant breeze and low seas. Day 1 included great views of the Gulf Stream signature species – Cory’s and Audubon’s Shearwaters, Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, and the flashy Black-capped Petrel. The Band-rumps were more numerous than we had seen all spring, and at one point we had close-up Band-rumped and Leach’s Storm-Petrels feeding with the Wilson’s Storm-Petrels behind the boat. Also nice were a couple of Arctic Terns, a very obliging Bridled Tern, and a group of Common Terns, some of which landed on the bow! We also enjoyed a group of Gervais’s Beaked Whales and numerous sightings of Pilot Whales. Day 2 started early with a nice White-tailed Tropicbird and then a South Polar Skua, two species we hadn’t seen the day before. Amazingly, we saw a second White-tailed Tropicbird and two more skuas in the afternoon! Black-capped Petrels and Band-rumped Storm-Petrels showed well again, and we also saw Pomarine and Long-tailed Jaegers. It was also nice to simply watch the Wilson’s Storm-Petrels pattering within arms’ length, some birds molting but the juveniles in fresh plumage. The diversity of flyingfish was a bonus, including Atlantic Patchwings and Oddspot Midgets, plus the rarely seen flying squid! All in all, a couple of really nice days offshore and a great group of people.

List June 3, June 4
Black-capped Petrel  11, 26
Cory's Shearwater  144, 56
Great Shearwater  2-3, 5
Audubon's Shearwater  84, 25
Wilson's Storm-Petrel  105, 123
Leach's Storm-Petrel  9, 4
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel  21-22, 9-10
White-tailed Tropicbird  0, 2
Northern Gannet  1, 0
Bridled Tern  1, 0
Common Tern  7, 0
Arctic Tern  2, 0
Sterna sp  2, 0
South Polar Skua  0, 3
Pomarine Jaeger  2, 2
Long-tailed Jaeger  1, 1
jaeger sp  5, 3

Pilot Whale  30+, 0
Spotted Dolphin  0, 3
Bottlenose Dolphin  20+, 15+
Gervais' Beaked Whale  5, 0

Loggerhead Turtle  0, 1

Black-capped Petrel - white-faced type
 Closer, ventral view of a white-faced Black-capped
 Dorsal view of a white-faced bird by Bob Fogg
We had excellent numbers of Audubon's Shearwaters on Wednesday's trip!
 Some were even searching under the sargassum for food. (Bob Fogg)
Wilson's Storm-Petrels in the slick
Erratic flight of the Leach's Storm-Petrel was well captured here by Bob Fogg.
 This Leach's with a darker rump gave us pause on Wednesday!  (by Bob Fogg)
Molting Band-rumped Storm-Petrel by Bob Fogg
 An individual Band-rumped Storm-Petrel more advanced molt
 Another view of a molting Band-rumped Storm-Petrel
& the White-tailed Tropicbirds from June 4th!!  First:
1st Summer Bridled Tern by Bob Fogg
Common Terns perched on the railings of the pulpit.  (Bob Fogg)
& one feeding in the slick, by Bob Fogg
Arctic Tern from Wednesday by Bob Fogg
Two of our South Polar Skuas from Thursday!
Pomarine Jaeger by Bob Fogg
 1st Summer Long-tailed Jaeger
Pilot Whales
Flying squid (rarely seen and hard to capture an image!)
 Oddspot Midgets!!

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