Monday, September 19, 2016

Sea Level

Out to see again on Saturday night headed to the blue Gulf Stream waters in search of birds. Calm seas and calm winds were a mixed blessing for birding. As you can imagine, the calm seas are good for the birders but the calm winds are not great for sea birds. Pelagic birds like petrels depend on the wind to whirl around the seas.

We lucked out with Black-capped Petrels on the trip. We saw at least two. Both were sitting on the water and also lazily flying around the boat. This is a master flyer. You can pick it out by the clean black cap (hence the name).

Black-capped Petrel
I've never seen one sitting on the water before. Incredible.

Black-capped Petrel
The bird flew pretty close to the boat.

Black-capped Petrel

Black-capped Petrel
We saw plenty of other birds including many Great Shearwaters. Notice the difference between this bird and the Petrel above. The cap on the Shearwater is much bigger.

Greater Shearwater
 Here is one of them taking a bath.

Greater Shearwater
We also saw 3 species of whales including these Pilot Whales.

Pilot Whales
And this Hammerhead Shark cruising the surface. Yikes.

Hammerhead Shark
But the best show of the day was watching the Spotted Dolphins. These guys were amazing. We first saw them in the distance but they were hard to miss. They were jumping so far out of the water. Check out this photos. I drew an arrow from the launch site to show you how far out of the water this dolphin flew.

Here they are a little closer to the boat. 3 in the air at a time.

Look how happy this guy looks flying through the air.

Here they are playing in the wake of the boat. There were a dozen of them bouncing around. Fun stuff.

We missed the main target bird. A few people saw one of the White-faced Stormpetrel but all I saw was a bird zip through my binoculars and disappear into the vast sea. Sigh. Still a good trip.

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