Today was the first of two days offshore. An early start again, stopping at the 7-11 with the rest of the hotel and grabbing some food quickly. At the dock, we couldn’t really hear the instructions but not a big deal.
Since I didn’t keep track as carefully of what order things were in, I’ll just list some of the highlights and add pictures at the end (mostly).
We started with terns in the harbor. I missed the good ones (Sandwich and Caspian). Out of the harbor, we had a few loons and gannets and not much else for quite some time. A couple miles out we had an odd surprise with a Chimney Swift buzzing by. Eventually we started seeing a few shearwaters (Sooty and Greater) and many Storm-Petrels.
We had a few jaegers eventually (Pomarine, of which I spotted the first, and Long-tailed). More shearwaters were around, including a few Cory’s and Audubon’s. We also had a nice side-by-side comparison of Arctic and Common Terns right at the boat (brilliantly I took no pictures).
There was a little excitement when a Black-capped Petrel passed through. It didn’t stay and many people missed it. I happened to see it as it came over the horizon and was on it, but I don’t think anyone that only looked once the call went out actually got on it. Rather surprising, it was the only one of the day.
The morning fishing was fairly good. We reeled in 5 or 6 Dolphinfish (Mahi-mahi) and hooked something else that got away. At one point, we had 3 on hooks at once.
Things cooled off for a while. There was a brief rush over a Band-rumped Storm-Petrel that ended up being leader-only. A few Cory’s Shearwaters joined us for some time and some Audubon’s passed through.
After a snack break, we finally had a decent bit of excitement when a South Polar Skua came in, landed on the water and grabbed some of the chum and then left.
The Skua deserves its own segment here:
Cue Jaws theme
Close enough to see the food
I did get a shot with the head out, but there was a head in the way, so not quite.
After that, things stayed very dull. The leaders decided to move to the color change. Before getting there, we found a few Cobia, an expensive fish that the captain stopped to catch and missed. A little further we saw a few Spotted Dolphins. Shortly after, we found an absolutely enormous pod of Common Dolphins. Mike Tove (who wrote the book on North Atlantic marine life) estimated the numbers in the thousands and said it was by far the largest number he’s ever seen. We also had a Loggerhead Turtle here.
We still didn’t find much in birds, although a Red-necked Phalarope was nice (especially since I thought the flying fish earlier were phalaropes and couldn’t figure out how they kept disappearing into the waves).
Back into the harbor, the same terns were around, which I again missed. I did see some Oystercatchers and a Ruddy Turnstone, both new to the trip. In not much of a surprise, no one stayed around to hear the day’s totals.
We wandered around for a little while looking for dinner and finally just went back to the country kitchen. Again, cheap and decent. The White Ibis right on the side of the road was quite different from roadside birds at home.