Saturday, February 11, 2012

Freeport Pelagic 2012...

On January 28th, my friend Heydi Lopes and I joined a bunch of intrepid birders on a pelagic trip from Freeport LI, NY. The pelagic trip was run by Sealife Paulagics, led by the gregarious Paul Guris and his crew of talented spotters, many of whom are some of New York’s finest birders.

Some people never left their posts and stayed on point all day.
The weather looked to be good and turned out to be fantastic...almost unfair for a pelagic - it was that good. We departed on time with a not too crowded boat. Immediately on our way out we had some excitement as Paul thought he spotted a Black Brandt loafing with the thousands of Brandts (Branta bernicla) near the shore. He took some distance photos and upon looking them over confirmed that he had made the correct call. The boat turned back and we looked unsuccessfully for the Black Brandt, which was presumed to have disappeared into the midst of the flock thus making it tough to find from the boat.

Razorbills in flight - a common sight all day.
After giving the Brandt flock a fair look, we continued out of the inlet and it was not long after, that we began to encounter small flocks of Razorbills (Alca torda). Many of them were seen in flight and we really did not have any sitting Razorbills that allowed us to get very close to them, at least this is what I observed, though I am not sure if others had better luck from where they were stationed on the boat.

Common Murre appears to be the "Bridled" form with the spectacled look.
With the great weather conditions, it was easy for us to begin picking out Common Murres (Uria aalge) as we got further offshore. Interestingly, we had better luck getting close to the Common Murres than the Razorbills and we had a great time getting good looks and photo opportunities for those of us with cameras. Paul indicated that the previous record for NY was broken that day, so that was cool to be present for that. We also picked up another pelagic specialty in Dovkie (Alle alle) though the looks were fleeting and we did not have any that we were able to get close to in the water.

Black-legged Kittiwake (my favorite bird of the day).
All along this time chumming went on unabated and a few of us who had taken up gull watching duties were wondering when we were going to get some gull action. Then it happened the star of the show arrived; an adult Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) came in and stayed with us all afternoon. The bird provided fantastic views and I thoroughly enjoyed picking it out from the mass of gulls when it flew off into the distance. Other notable birds that came into the chumming were the usual Northern Gannets (Morus bassanus) and two Iceland Gulls (Larus glaucoides). Despite the lack of variety in gulls it was a fantastic trip and I encourage birders in our area who have not tried this pelagic to do so the next time around. The crews led by Paul Guris are very professional and do their utmost to find and get you on the birds at sea. Mind you there is no guarantee, but if there are birds out there, they will get them for you.

Black-legged Kittiwake
Here are the numbers from the trip as reported by Paul, which is a compilation of sightings from all the spotters on board.

Long-tailed Duck - 225+
Common Eider - 250+
Surf Scoter - 2
White-winged Scoter - 8
Black Scoter - 3
Surf/Black Scoter - 32
Red-breasted Merganser - 40
Red-throated Loon - 23
Common Loon - 26
Northern Gannet - 200+
Peregrine - 1
BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE - 29 (incl. a single 1st-basic)
Bonaparte's Gull - 12
American Herring Gull - 700
ICELAND GULL - 2 (ad and 1st-basic)
Great Black-backed Gull - 75
COMMON MURRE - 86 (3 breeding, 1 heavy molt)
RAZORBILL - 481 (incl. one bird well inside the inlet)
large alcid sp. - 52

Harbor Porpoise - 4+
Short-beaked Common Dolphin - 5+
dolphin sp. - 25+
whale sp. - 3

Notable birds from inside the Jones inlet and along the Loop boat channel.

Double-crested Cormorant - 11
Great Cormorant - 1
Great Blue Heron - 21
Peregrine Falcon - 2

Share with Bookmark and Share


Cindy said...

Beautiful Kittiwake shot..Great day for you!

eileeninmd said...

Wow, sounds like an awesome pelagic trip. Congrats on all your sightings.

sheila said...

Stumbled upon your blog. It's great. I so love birds...from those blazing red cardinals to red tailed hawks to the adorable little parakeet we owned who could talk in sentences!! (And then flew away one day after five years as the beloved family pet) Beautiful photos. I'll be back. :)

dAwN said...

Wow~What a great day of birding! We dont go on Pelagics..Jeff gets very sick. I will have to just look at these great photos.