Saturday was the first of the BBC Pelagics to Atlantis Canyon. First of the year, and the first one that’s been run in June. I had quickly signed up with thoughts of Pterodromas but as it turned out, no such luck with that, although it was a very fun day.

I got picked up at about 1:45 and we were at the dock just before 3:30. The boat boarded and we were off by a little after 4. I managed to doze off for 45 minutes or so, another hour would have been nice.

As it got light, we could see one of the islands going by, followed by a flock of gulls, and then a sandbar with what appeared to be a large number of seals. Soon after, birds started appearing, beginning with a few Greater Shearwaters.

Greater Shearwater

Some Cory’s joined them and soon we had flocks on the water.

It soon rained a little bit, but I was under the overhang at the back and almost didn’t notice. The huge flocks of storm-petrels were noticeable though.

Shearwater flock

Shearwaters in the rain

Storm-Petrel Flock

Around 9, it began to get foggy and a lot of the boat started feeling the motion. I eventually went back inside, but not before getting a split second look at a jaeger disappearing into the fog. Inside, I dozed a bit and tried to avoid looking green (not sure how successful, although I did keep everything down).

After an hour or so of that, it began to clear and I went back out. Plenty more shearwaters and storm-petrels. A few Leach’s were called and I got some fairly decent views, although no pictures.

Around noon, I put together a sandwich and started to eat when a call of Dolphins came over the loudspeaker. I ran out and enjoyed a pod of about 40 Common (Saddleback) Dolphins but with the sandwich, I didn’t take photos.

Fortunately, I had finished by the time the Pilot Whales showed up. There were about 12 and they stayed beside the boat for quite some time.

Pilot Whale:

Pilot Whale

And not too long after that, we found a huge pod of dolphins that came over and investigated us. I really needed a much wider angled lens to get a good shot of the whole pod, but these will do.


More Dolphins

Jumping Dolphin

Also, see Christopher’s blog for some video of the dolphins.

We continued on, attempting to reach Nantucket Shoals, but found yet another huge pod of dolphins, this time loaded with shearwaters. I finally got some decent shots of Sooty and got my first photo of Manx of the day. There was also a funky looking jaeger that was called a Pomarine that I barely saw. Numbers of everything were spectacular.

Sooty Shearwater

Manx taking off

We then had to race back. We slowed down for some Grampus, which stayed distant. Somewhat fortunately it became foggy again, so we couldn’t stop for birds. We didn’t get in until almost 10:30 and it was midnight before I got home, a very long day.

See Rick’s full report. I missed the fin, minke, and other unidentified whales and dolphins, the saddlebags, and the flying fish, mahi mahi, and tuna but otherwise think I saw everything. I can’t say the turtle was a leatherback, but I did see a head.

Other people have started posting their pictures, I’d suggest starting with the Virtual Birder archives (start with June 29 and probably go into July). Also, check out the map Steve Mirick made of our route.

To close, here’s a selection of Cory’s Shearwaters. I was looking for a Scopoli’s and a couple of these seem to have lighter underwings. Remember that you can click on any photos on here to get a larger view.

Right one:

Cory's Shearwaters

Cory's Shearwater

Wings look fairly normal, but the bill seems slightly thin:

Cory's Shearwater

Typical borealis:

Cory's Shearwater