New England Coastal BIrds

New England Coastal BIrds

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Addendum- Seabirding Cape Cod October 5, 2011

The Jaeger Show continues on October 5th

From Tom Robben's report on CT Birds and Mass Birds:
You might want to watch the CT coast for seabirds this week, and also consider a trip up to Cape Cod.
Keith Mueller and I went to the outer cape on Wednesday October 5th. 
Rough weather kept pelagic boats, whale watching boats, and most fishing boats in harbor all day.
The strong winds were remarkable, and so were the seabirds we saw from land, with most activity around 7am to 9am [the vast majority of "parasitic jaegers" below were clearly parasitic or highly probable parasitic jaegers, and the one big dark chunky pomarine jaeger was 95% certain]....

   a)  Herring Cove Beach, in Provincetown, MA:   
9 Parasitic Jaegers, 60 Gannets, several thousand terns and common gulls.
At 7am Cape Cod Bay was swarming with flying birds, as far out as the eye and binocs could see.

   b)  Race Point Beach, in Provincetown MA:   
2 Northern Fulmars, 40 Parasitic Jaegers, 200 Greater Shearwaters, 5 Manx Shearwaters, 100 Gannets, 1000 Terns and Gulls

   c)  South Provincetown Beach:  
2 Parasitic Jaegers in harbor area, chasing terns within 500 feet of route 6a.

   d)  Nauset Beach, in Orleans, MA:  
35 Parasitic Jaegers, 1 Pomarine Jaeger, 30 Cory's Shearwaters,  2000 Terns  (Note- Most of the feeding Tern flocks were offshore at nearly extreme scope range. Many small flocks of Terns were also feeding at the wave breaks just off the beach. Since we were not scrutinizing the Tern flocks at first for species variety, we appreciated the Tern flocks as attractors for Jaegers. During the last half hour, we discovered that these small flocks of 5 to 9 Terns flying just off the beach in 1-2 minute intervals contained at least 3 - 7 Forster's Terns per flock-see image below which is typical of the continual small flocks). We never counted the numbers of Forster's Terns, but confidently estimate the numbers as very high. 

in addition to the above highlights: 450+ Scoters (all 3 species) both rafted on the water and flying in small flocks- (the largest numbers seen off Race Point and Nauset beaches), 500+ Common Eiders in all locations, in individuals, pairs, small groups, and larger flocks both on the water and in flight- (largest numbers seen off Race Point and Nauset beaches), 7 Red- breasted Mergansers in Hatches Harbor inlet, 50+ Black Ducks, 3 Green-winged Teal ( in a flock of White-winged Scoters) off Nauset beach, 1 (probable) BROWN BOOBY feeding outside South Provincetown Harbor. this bird was feeding with a flock of Gannets and Laughing Gulls on a school of fish about a half mile outside the breakwater. It was noticeably smaller than the Gannets, had shorter wings held at a greater angle, and a longer tail than the surrounding Gannets......just a bit too far to positively Id. 1500 D C Cormorants, 3 Great Cormorants, 3 Common Loon (Herring Cove beach, 2 Bonaparte's Gulls-(1 with other gulls on the sandbar at South Provincetown beach, 1 fly-by with Terns at Nauset Beach), Shorebirds: (400 total)- 200+ Black-bellied Plovers- (largest numbers seen at South Provincetown beach, First Encounter Beach [low tide], Welfleet Harbor, and Tern Island north sandbars), Sanderlings- (South Provincetown Beach, First Encounter Beach, Hatches Harbor inlet), Dunlin, Semi-palmated Sandpipers/Plovers (most locations), 7 Oystercatchers(Chatham harbor sandbar), 5 American Avocet (Easton beach, Newport, RI), 3 Red-tailed Hawk (Provincetown Airport, Welfleet Harbor, Morris Island), 4 Peregrine Falcon (1-Herring Cove, 1 Hatches Harbor inlet [chasing a Jaeger], 1 Newport, R I bridge, 1 Jamestown, R I bridge), 2 Merlin (Race Point beach), 1 Turkey Vulture (Race Point beach), 1 Coopers Hawk (Provincetown).

We also searched for a Sabine's Gull on the outer cape, but far.
Tom Robben and Keith Mueller

Keith enjoying the ocean wind at Race Point beach, in Provincetown, MA where we saw 2 Northern Fulmars, 40 Parasitic Jaegers, 200 Greater Shearwaters, 5 Manx Shearwaters, 100 Gannets, 1000 Terns and Gulls! Around 9am.

Locations we visited: Provincetown- Macmillan's Pier, the "moors", Herring Cove Beach, Hatches Harbor inlet, Race Point beach, Pilgrim Lake, South Provincetown Beach

Truro- Pamet Harbor, Head of the Meadow beach, Highland Light

Welfleet- Welfleet Harbor, Great Island/Herring River

Eastham- First Encounter Beach, Great Pond/Herring Pond, Nauset Light beach, Coast Guard beach

Orleans- Rock Harbor, Nauset Beach

Chatham- Chatham Harbor/north Tern Island, Chatham Harbor/south Tern Island, Chatham commercial fish pier, Chatham Lighthouse overlook, Morris Island Refuge overlook, Chatham Bridge Street Harbor

Rhode Island- Easton Beach, Newport

The spectacular view from North Truro's historic Highland Light (in 1797 the first light house on Cape Cod), on a cliff 125 feet above the ocean, as the wind pushed some big white-caps into the beach, around 11am.   NOTE that all these photo images can be expanded by clicking on them.

And another beautiful ocean beach... this one at Nauset Light in Eastham, MA, around noon.

A few images from the day-

   The Laughing Gull piracy continues....Its bad enough that these Terns have to deal with the Jaegers constantly harassing them, but the Laughing Gulls don't play fair!!
                                             (Herring Cove beach)

                                          The Tern still has the fish in his possession......

                                           .............the top Gull takes possession.........

                                                   .............but not for long............

Hatches Harbor, the tide was still too high. We spotted a small flock of small gulls/terns on the other side of the inlet but couldn't id them; too far to get a good look and too much sand blowing which distorted our view.

                                           Race Point Lighthouse- part of the Gull gathering

                                                    Yes, the waves were quite large!

A very dark Parasitic Jaeger moves in on the Terns.....
(Hatches Harbor inlet)

     ........and then a Peregrine Falcon targets the Jaeger, which out-maneuvered the Falcon!

   One of the two massive Grey Seals (just off the beach) that escorted us all the way back from Hatches Harbor inlet to my truck in the parking lot at Herring Beach Cove...nearly a mile!  

                  A few (poor quality) digiscoped images......3 Greater Shearwaters
                                                     (Race Point beach)

By 2pm we had driven south to Nauset Beach, where the action picked up again, including 35 Parasitic Jaegers, 1 Pomarine Jaeger, 30 Cory's Shearwaters,  2000 Terns (mostly Common-20% were Forster's).  We were in "ocean-sea-watcher's heaven" again as we watched the jaegers chasing terns around, trying to steal the fish the terns had just caught.

                                           flock of Scoters (Nauset beach)

White-winged Scoters with Terns (Nauset beach)

                   Part of the huge numbers of Terns fishing off the beaches (Nauset beach)

A wide angle view

Just about the correct average. For every seven Terns we saw (closer to the beach); three of them were Forster's

                 Grey Seals "hauled out" on the Chatham Harbor sand bars

                One of the seven American Oystercatchers on the Chatham Harbor sandbars

                                               A few additional images from the day.........

Turkey Vulture over the dunes (and just over our heads) Race Point beach

Red-tailed Hawk with Tree Swallow over the Provincetown Airport

Laughing Gulls. South Provincetown Beach

Part of a flock of fifty Common Terns at South Provincetown Beach. The flock flew over 6a heading in the direction of Race Point

Red-tailed Hawk over Welfleet Harbor

Red-tailed Hawk-Morris Island Refuge parking lot

          A few images from the end of the day.....Easton Beach, Newport, Rhode Island........