They got us up at the crack of dawn - not that we were sleeping, mind you. They started chumming to create a "slick" which the birds can apparently smell from miles away. We saw birds flying around. The lighting was terrible. All we could really see was little black dots moving around over the waves - the big, big waves.
The leaders started yelling out bird names - "Wilson's Storm Petrals!" "Leach's Storm Petral at 9 o'clock!" "Band-rumped Storm Petral flying across the bow, headed to the slick". Mind you, all of these birds look pretty much the same when you see them on a sunny day. You can imagine the difficulty of picking out the subtle difference in leg length, shape of wings, etc when the birds are flying around at 30 MPH ducking behind 4 foot swells while looking through binoculars on a rocking boat. Sound like fun? NOT!
We saw a total of 7 species of birds for the entire day. Some people saw 8 species including Manx Shearwater but I was laying down in the cabin trying to nap when that bird flew past. We got back to the dock 1 1/2 hours late. Oh, and did I mention that only 1 of the 7 species counts for the stupid contest? Yup. All of the other birds were seen in Maryland waters which is outside of the contest zone. CRAP!
OK, enough bitching. I did get 3 "life birds" out of the deal. Not bad since we only saw 7 species. Here are a few photos. Notice how gray all of the photos are. Notice the white caps . . . Just sayin'
The first is Black-capped Petrel which is a huge life bird for me. I actually got a decent shot of it where you can see the black cap. Of course, you can't see one of the wings which is hidden behind the big, big wave.
|Leach's (front) and Wilson's Storm Petrels|
|Wilson's Storm Petrel|
|Oceanic Sunfish (Mola Mola)|