Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 3 of the White-faced Storm-Petrel Hunt, and More

I had seriously considered not going out on Day 3 of the white-faced storm-petrel hunt, but in the end decided to give it one more shot. While conditions for locating the WFSP seemed better on Sunday than the 1st 2 days of our search, in the end we still came up empty. I did get a shot of the bridled tern in the photo above. They often sit on debris floating in the ocean, and usually where there is some sargasso weed nearby. We also had a several marlins feeding around our boat for 1-2 hours. Brian said he had never seen so many in one spot.

We saw the same birds as on day 1 and 2 plus we had good looks at a manx shearwater, and a very good look at a south polar skua that we found sitting on the water. Unfortunately, my photo of it was even poorer than the one above of the bridled tern. We also surprisingly had a barn swallow and a prairie warbler fly around the boat. By the time we returned to the dock, I was more than happy to be finished with this recent round of pelagic trips. I did call Bob Ake, who had not come on day 3 because he needed to get ready to leave this morning for Alaska, to tell him he had not missed the WFSP.

While tired, I jumped in my trusty car and headed for Virginia Beach where I spent the nite. I was up this morning at 4:45 to make the additional 4 hour drive up to Bombay Hook NWR in Delaware. A black-headed gull had been seen there on Saturday, and I still needed to find one for this big year. I arrived at the Shearness Pool and began my scoping of the group of gulls and shorebirds. It took me about 20-30 minutes before I located the bird. It was in what is called basic plumage, but its thin red bill and red legs stood out once I found it.

I had been talking with a group of 4 birders from Philly prior to seeing the gull. We had all seen a godwit mixed in with the group of gulls but were having a hard time sorting out which kind it was because it was not all that visible. When I found the gull, I began to walk back over to the Philly group but the gulls flushed, and the black-headed disappeared.

I told one of the Philly birders that I was doing a big year, and said I was planning to drive over to Cape May that afternoon to look for the king eider that has been there all summer. He called a birding buddy in Cape May, who went out to make sure that the eider was still there. As I was driving toward Cape May, I got a message from the Philly birder that he had heard from his friend who found it was still hanging around the remains of what is called the concrete ship. The Philly birder also said that they had relocated the black-headed gull, and finally gotten good enough looks at the godwit to conclude that it was a hudsonian.

I arrived in Cape May a little before 4 PM, and found the king eider in the water next to the ship. It soon hopped up on what is left of the ship, joining several double-crested cormorants, and proceeded to preen at length. This allowed me to study it for awhile. I thought how wierd birding can be at times. I had looked during parts of 3 days on the north shore of Boston in January for a king eider--the normal time and place to find one. Instead I see this one in the middle of the summer at Cape May. After a long satisfying look, I packed up my scope and headed out of town.

I am staying outside of Baltimore tonite because I need to stop in Washington DC tomorrow. As a result, I ate dinner tonite at a place called Obrycki's which is famous for its steamed hard-shell crabs. I tried to eat here back in March, but they had not opened yet for the season. Even though I was eating alone, I still enjoyed cracking and digging out the crab meat from 6 large crabs. The Obrycki's lager washed the crab and cole slaw down well.

35 more birds were seen for this week, and the gull and eider raise the YTD up to 674. I will be heading back to NC tomorrow. On Thursday I will be flying down to Miami to look for a flamingo that was seen this past Saturday in Everglades NP. Stay tuned!

No comments:

Post a Comment