Saturday, Oct. 27, 1:30 pm approaching Northeast Stellwagen Bank- Whales so far that day had been absent. Although the bird show was excellent, we had to remember that we were on a whale boat and whales were the desired find of the day. We were underway for an hour when the naturalist on board mentioned that with the upcoming storm, the whales sensed this and would be found farther out on the Bank. This of course was just fine with us and the the many birders that were on the vessel! As we steamed northeast, a few very distant spouts were seen on the horizon. The Dolphin IX headed in the direction of the whales.
As the vessel closed the distance between us and the Whales, we came onto more Cory's Shearwaters...
.....and suddenly this magnificent Parasitic Jaeger appeared from the east....
.....it passed right over the bow and over our heads-
.....it then turned back and flew off to the East-
Within a few minutes, a single Fulmar was sitting on the sea and then took off when the vessel approached-
A few more Cory's Shearwaters-
Then came the Kittiwakes (mostly first winter birds). They continued for nearly an hour along the outer fringes of Northeast Stellwagen-
Although it was quite warm in Provincetown Harbor a few hours earlier, the emps dropped by twenty-plus degrees on Stellwagen and the approaching front. Jen lets me know that the temps had changed!
The first whales to appear off the bow were a Sei Whale and numerous Finback Whales....
...and the first of many Humpbacks-
While we were drifting watching the Whales, this Goldfinch came out of nowhere and landed on this young ladies head. It flew off and circled the vessel a few times.....
......only to land on this Gentleman's head-
It then flew off and landed on the roof of the wheelhouse-
Another Finback Whale-
And of course more Kittiwakes like this adult-
While the Whales were putting on a great show, a handful of Razorbills passed by the vessel-
Gannets were everywhere-
More Kittiwakes. This pair joining a pair of Gannets-
After an hour on Northeast Stellwagen, the Dolphin IX turned and headed for home. When the vessel was about two miles outside Race Point this single Snow Bunting appeared from the upper deck of the boat and flew towards shore. It must have been a stow-away!
The numbers of Cory's Shearwaters increased the closer we got to shore-
Gannet and Cory's-
Bill (Left) and Paul (right)-
Back to the flocks of Terns off Race Point-
The only Laughing Gull to come close to the vessel-
A single Bonaparte's Gull crosses the bow-
Small flocks of Common Loons off Race Point-
Another Parasitic Jaeger crosses the bow-
This was an interesting encounter. A Parasitic Jaeger harasses a second year Gannet!-
More Cory's off Wood End-
This Gannet allowed us a close approach-
A swimming Parasitic Jaeger off Long Point-
Moe Gannets fly over the vessel off Long Point-
Ths Red-throated Loon shadowed the Dolphin IX as we passed Long Point-
A Double-crested Cormorant finds a comfortable perch on top of this channel buoy-
A small flock of Laughing Gulls just outside Provincetown Harbor-
Gulls looking for scraps of food from the washed decks of this fishing boat-
The Cormorants are starting to cover the breakwater-
An interesting artistic concept: dark birds on light stones, light birds on dark stones-
A Great Blue Heron flies off, a single drake Black Scoter swims with the Eiders-
The day was salvaged thanks to the Dolphin Fleet for having that one last trip of the season. The bird show was excellent, with many Cory's Shearwaters and Jaegers, and a few early winter sightings of Kittiwakes, a Fulmar, and a few Alcids. It was a great way to end the whale watch season.
Check out Bill Thompson's stunning images from the trip:
From the pulpit of the Dolphin IX Whale Boat to NE Stellwagen Bank. (This was the last trip of the season)-(3000 raft Scoters and Eiders along beach plus additional 250 Red-breasted Mergansers), 300 flying Common Eiders on the 'Bank', 200 Terns, 9 PARASITIC JAEGERS (a single Parasitic Jaeger was harassing and chasing an adult Gannet; that's the first time I have seen this behavior- I took a few distance shots), 200 Gannets (mostly adults), 125 CORY'S SHEARWATERS. 1 NORTHERN FULMAR, 28 KITTIWAKE, 5 RAZORBILL, 3 Oldsquaw, 15 Laughing Gull, 1 Bonaparte's Gull, 15 Common Loon, 1 R T Loon, 1 Goldfinch way out on Stellwagen- (it landed on a few peoples heads and then on the ships upper deck; obviously tired). On the way in we had a Snow Bunting land on the vessel and catch a ride in to within a mile of shore, than it took off towards Race Point. Also small pod Humpbacks, Finback and Sei Whales.
Keith and Jen Mueller
Part 3-"Post Hurricane Sandy"- "Escaping Long Island Sound" will continue-
Check back in a few days-