Sunday, July 26, 2015

P'Town Pelagic July 18, 2105

It’s been a while since my last post, so I thought I’d take advantage of this rainy Sunday morning to do so. A week ago (July 18th) I had the pleasure of taking a five hour mini pelagic trip out of Provincetown (MA) to cash in of the ever growing number of shearwaters off Provincetown and out on Stellwagen Bank. This trip was organized by Blair Nikula. Blair was been doing these six person trips out of Chatham for a few years now, but the boat he normally uses has been out of commission because of ongoing repairs. So Blair contacted the captain of the Beth Ann, dock in Provincetown, to see if he would be interested?  As it turned out this would be his first charter for pursuing only birds, normally its fishing charters and an occasional Whale Watch. 
I met Blair at the Beach Forest parking lot along with Sue Finnegan, Judith Davis and her son; from there we carpooled to a nearby parking lot and met up with our last participant …Steve Arena. Blair hit Race Point for a few minutes before meeting us at the Beach Forest and reported lots of Cory’s Shearwaters in the Surf!  A good Omen indeed…..
We boarded the boat around seven and headed out…..the weather was overcast with intermittent rain, and had 2-3 ft swells. Certainly not the greatest day, but as we got around Race Point we really wouldn't worry about the weather again. Well, let’s just cut to the chase …….”Thousands of Shearwaters Everywhere” We first encountered Cory’s Shearwaters fairly close to the shore and has we moved out a little farther we started to come across Great, Sooty and finally a few Manx’s Shearwaters.  The Bird of the day however was not any of the Shearwaters, but a Fea's Petrel!! Perhaps a 2nd state record. It turned out to be a very exciting 10-15 sec. Below are Blair’s best estimates from his ebird report were as follows…..The shear number of birds out there was simply AMAZING!
Cory's Shearwater
^ Amazing numbers continue, with largest concentrations along the backside from P'town to Truro. Many in heavy molt now.
Great Shearwater
^ Largest numbers over the northern portion of our route; many in heavy wing molt.
Sooty Shearwater
Manx Shearwater
^ continue to be scarce.
Wilson's Storm-Petrel
^ widely scattered through the area covered, with no concentrations.
Leach's Storm-Petrel
^ over the SE corner of Stellwagen
Northern Gannet
2 ad.
Age & Sex
Age Unknown
Sex Unknown
Pomarine Jaeger
^ all apparent 1cy (based upon photo review)
jaeger sp.
^ probable POJA (surprisingly, no PAJA seen)
Black-legged Kittiwake
all 1cy, transitioning into 2nd basic.
Bonaparte's Gull
inshore off Provincetown
Laughing Gull
all inshore along backside (additional birds between Wood end and Race Point
Herring Gull
most over the SE corner of Stellwagen (hundreds more gulls roosting on the outer beach not included in this total)
Lesser Black-backed Gull
all 1cy
Great Black-backed Gull
most over SE corner of Stellwagen
Common Tern
all inshore off P'town (many more between Wood End and Race Point)
Around 8:30AM things really started to get interesting…..While scanning through the Cory’s Shearwaters I spotted another bird just above them circling back…..after processing this for about 3 seconds I screamed out “GET ON THIS BIRD” I had just come across a  Pterodroma Petrel!  This was my first Pterodroma Petrel, I knew it wasn’t a Black-capped Petrel, and quickly thought it might be a Fea’s, but once I knew the others were on the bird I just grabbed my camera and started shooting, this all happened within 10-15 sec. As it turned out, we did have a Fea’s Petrel…perhaps a 2nd state record!
It just seems  the marginal weather days produce the best birding…Photos below
Capt Rich and Blair discussing trip route.

Heading out

black-legged Kittiwake 

Cory's Shearwater-one of thousands!

Cory's Shearwater up close

Fea's Petrel....the Star of the show.


Fea's Petrel- showing dark underwing.

Sooty & Great Shearwaters

Great Shearwater

Great Shearwater

Pomarine Jaeger

Pomarine Jaeger-1st cy

Pomarine Jaegers

Sooty Shearwater

Sooty Shearwater