April 17, 2012- The 2012 Gloucester codfishing season opened on Monday. Haddock fishing has been steady, but with the opening of the cod season, my Father-in-Law and I decided to go on Tuesday. Honestly, we were both anxious to get out of Gloucester Harbor to Stellwagen for another spring/summer season. Although April is a slow month for sea birds (winter alcids are gone, and summer tube-noses are not due until June), there are Gannets arriving in good numbers and maybe a Kittiwake or two around; it would still be worth a trip.
We were at the Yankee Fleet dock (across the east side of the inner harbor from Jodrey's) by 5:30 am hoping to be there early to reserve good rail positions on the stern (boat departure at 7:00 am).
It was obvious that many were anxious for the start of the cod season as well, because there was a crowd gathering already at the dock. Well, we weren't early enough....we ended up with mid-port side rail positions; it was an OK spot for fishing, but not the best for birding. The stern offers a wide range perspective for watching sea birds. Being positioned on one of the sides of the vessel limits the range and visiblity.
We still had about an hour before we could board the Yankee Clipper, so I walked to the end of the dock that was covered with a huge stack of lobster traps ready for the season. But there was enough room between the traps and the end of the dock, so I took a good position ready with my camera and binoculars.
Just after first light, flocks of Double-crested Cormorants flew up the harbor and disappeared over the city of Gloucester heading northeast.
A single third winter Herring Gull flew by holding a Herring
I kept searching the buildings and vessels at Jodrey's for any White-winged Gulls in my binoculars. Last year around this time, I had a single Glaucous Gull fly out from the pier and then over my head while I was waiting for the Yankee Clipper to cast off; maybe a similar encounter would repeat itself. Sure enough, I spotted a single white Glaucous Gull fly out from the roof at Whole Foods on Jodrey's and start flying northeast over the east side of the inner Harbor. This was probably one of the same birds that I photographed earlier this year in March on the pier (see blog reports:
I grabbed my camera and only had enough time to take a few quick shots at the Gull before it disappeared behind the building next to me. Unfortunately, the lens focused on the pole and not the distant Gull.
A little better on this passing Great Egret!
The Gull with the herring returned being chased by a younger Gull which was following close behind, obviously having its eyes focused on that fish
A pair of Brant flew up the harbor and also disapperaed northeast over the city.
By now the sun had started lighting up the harbor, a second Great Egret followed by this Snowy Egret flew up the harbor and both disappeared over the city.
At 6:30 am we boarded the Clipper. After securing our rods in the rod holders, and stowing the gear, I walked up onto the pulpit to continue birding the harbor. A single adult Black-crowned Night-Heron flew out from the pilings under the small processing building next to the Clipper and flew by heading out of the harbor.
This young Herring Gull landed right next to me on the piling begging to have his picture taken, so....
Double-crested Cormorants were trading in and out of the inner harbor.
The light blue morph Fulmar.
The second blue morph (med dark blue) Fulmar flies by the vessel.
Fulmars continued flying by the vessel at all distances.
Another (dark) blue morph Fulmar.....
Five Fulmar including the dark blue morph.
A White-throated Sparrow (thanks Jeremiah for the ID correction) suddenly appeared and tried to land on the Clipper. It eventually flew off to the west. (Sorry for the correction- as I have stated many times; Passerines are not my strongest bird order, as I focus all my efforts on Waterfowl, Waterbirds and Sea Birds).
It surfaced underneath this Gull causing it to take flight!
This pair were swimming across the harbor in front of the Clipper....they had to hurry their pace a bit!
The carved bird ready for paint-
Primed and "pre-painted"-
The painting begins with color and feather blending on the primaries, tertials and dorsal feathering......
......it continues onto the wing coverts-
When the dark dorsal feathering is completed, I then paint the white secondaries of the wing, breast and chest, and then paint the black head and chest adding a bit of violet iridescent highlights to the back of the head. The red/orange bill is painted with a single coat and the bird is allowed to dry overnight.
The feather edges, feather splits and other details are added to the tacky blended foundation painting. The second application of red/orange paint is blended on the bill, and the red eye rings are added. The decoy is now completed and set aside to dry for a few days.
I always like to add wood features to the base that highlight the birds natural history, and to compliment the dynamic of the species. Since many Oystercatchers winter in the Caribbean, I selected two Caribbean wood species: Black Mangrove (base) and Mango (foot of the base). Good Luck Greenwich Audubon- I hope this decoy generates important proceeds for you!
Dad unhooking a small Redfish. (Don't tell him I took this picture)! :^)
One of the many Haddock caught that day!
One of the Haddock I caught.
Dad caught the only Sculpin of the day.
Last but not least- George having a bit of fun posing with a really small Redfish!