New England Coastal BIrds

New England Coastal BIrds

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Part Two- Day Six- "Heading Home" and Day Seven, "A Day to Decompress- Codfishing off Gloucester"

         Part Two, Day Six- Monday, April 29-"Heading Home"   Lewes/Cape May Ferry- 

   Woke up early this morning and no was raining. It seems like it is always raining when you leave Ocean City after the Show. I can remember it raining so hard that the streets were all flooded forcing all the cars to crawl out of town. In fact a few years ago, there was an tornado that passed through the area which we saw to the north of us as we crossed Delaware Bay on the Ferry.....that made for an interesting ride. Not what you want to see when you  are on a vessel in the middle of a Bay crossing. I even remember snow one year! Today the rain was steady, but not heavy and without wind. The Bay will be OK for the crossing to Cape May, NJ.

    We had reservations for the 9:15 am ferry, so we got an early start, and said Good-bye to the Convention Center...see you next year!

     As luck has it, the traffic was light and we made good time to the Ferry Terminal in Lewes, Delaware. This usually takes about forty-five minutes with normal traffic and over an hour with summer traffic. But today there was no traffic, so we made it in a little over a half an hour....following the speed limits of course!

    We pulled into the gate just as they were loading the 8:15 ferry. We drove right on with only a few other cars and we were heading home an hour earlier. In years past we would normally leave Sunday night after the Show. That meant that you had to pack your carvings, and get out of the hall ASAP. Then try and negotiate the traffic as quickly as possible in hopes of making the last ferry of the day (an hopefully avoid a speeding ticket). Usually that meant if everything went right you would have ten minutes to spare. Than you still had over six hours to get home. If you missed the ferry, than it meant seven hours...which meant you would be home around three in the morning. If it was raining, it was a long tiring drive home! We now stay over on Sunday, and take our time getting home on Monday.....much better!

     We started off across the Bay. Jen and I went upstairs to the bow...I of course went out on the bow deck which was slightly sheltered from the rain.-

     The Double-crested Cormorants are starting to build in numbers.-

     Just as we passed the inner breakwater, a single dark bird flew out from the inner Bay heading towards the point at Cape Henlopen Park. I looked twice and realized it was a Jaeger! This time of year in the Bay?-

     I took some shots and saw that it was an adult Parasitic-

    I looked through the window and saw that Jen was watching it too. Here is a slightly cropped image showing the distance from the bow of the ferry-

     What a nice surprise! If we had taken the 9:15 ferry, we never would have seen it!-

     The Jaeger passed by the bow and disappeared into the rain and haze towards the Point.-

     Just a spectacular bird and species!-

     A few Gannets started to appear. This is a real treat for Jen and I, we always look forward to seeing them when we come and go from  the show-

     This Red-throated Loon was close to the ferry before it took off.-

     Osprey nest on top of the lighthouse-

     More Gannets-

    Laughing Gulls started to show up as we got closer to the Cape May side-

     More Common Loons-

     Swimming Gannet-

     Cape May lighthouse looms out of the shroud of rain-

     Common Loons-

     More Forster's Terns-

      And Gannets-

         The ferry ride was smooth and the birding was good. The Jaeger was most memorable. After a five hour ride, we were back in Connecticut. We were on 95 in the Stratford area, and I suggested we take a run down to Long Beach to see if the (White-winged Gull- will be discussed in Feb. reports which will be posted soon) was still there. In the marsh across for the airport, were several Yellow-crowned Night-Herons-

     At Long Beach, the White-winged Gull was not there, but small groups of Sanderling were-

     And a few Red-breasted Mergansers-

     Driving back to 95 on Lordship Blvd. I spotted a drake Common Goldeneye near the road....another late  bird!-

       Day Seven- May 1, "A Day to Decompress- Codfishing off Gloucester" "After Show Tradition" for me has always meant taking a day off right after the show and go on the cod boats to just enjoy the day, and to decompress! I missed a few years of this because of nasty weather, but today, the weather was unbelievable: light easterly winds and a flat sea with cool temps, perfect!

     This time of year is a bird transitional time: late for most winter visitors and a bit early for the summer visitors. Generally the birding is slow, but often the fishing is good! These days have paid off in the past. In 2001, I went out on the Gale Frances out of Point Judith, Rhode Island. I was the only birder on the vessel. The birding was very slow with only a few Gannets showing up. But the lack of numbers and species was rewarded with the sudden appearance of a Brown Booby....which landed on the upper deck railing. That was incredible.......I had that bird to myself!

     My Father-in-Law and I boarded the Yankee Patriot and soon we were underway heading out of Gloucester Harbor. This Cormorant surfaced off the bow and slid underwater just as quickly as it appeared-

     A pair of Snowy Egrets fly over the harbor.....

     .....followed by a Green Heron-

     Gulls were nesting on the rooftops of the harborside buildings-

     Plenty of Common Eiders-

      A single dark 1st cycle Kumlien's Gull on Ten Pound Island-

      I only saw one Surf Scoter which was this sub-adult drake also near Ten Pound Island-

     Ten Pound Island-

      Boston can be seen in the distance as we passed the Dogbar breakwater-

     Always a few Common Loons off Eastern Point-

     The first Gannet of the day passes by the vessel off Eastern Point-

     Not sure of the species of these two whales, but they were close to shore-

     Because of the calm almost flat sea, any seabirds in the area would be enjoying the calm water. So I would have to look harder for swimming birds such as these five Gannets, flying birds would be fewer.-

     Three of the nine White-winged Scoters from the day-

     Finally what I was looking for- Alcids! These two Razorbills were loafing on the flat sea.....

      .....until the approaching Yankee Patriot kicked them into flight-

      More Common Loons...this one was calling as it flew north-

     I looked in the distance and spotted a Gannet acting peculiar. Through my binoculars I could see why.-

     The Gannet was acting like a Bridled was hauling out of the water and crawling up onto a large piece of driftwood. This is the first time I have ever seen this!-

     We finally reached Tillies Bank and started fishing. There were just about no birds flying (not even any Gulls), but the fishing was excellent. Dad and I were reeling in nice Cod and Haddock one after the other. There were only a few boats out there this morning. I looked over and recognised this boat. It was the Hard Merchandise featured on the National Geographic series "Wicked Tuna". And there is Marciano on the stern (the shaved-head guy)!-

     Dad and I had a great starboard side rail position. I had my camera with me, and when birds would show up, I could put my cod rod down, reach behind me and grab my camera and hopefully take pictures of the bird.....that is unless I was reeling up a fish. That happened on many occasions and I wasn't able to take the pictures. But this time I managed one shot as this Common Murre passed by the vessel heading away.-

    I also had a good position to start chumming. The tide was moving slow, but was moving away from me. So I started tossing over beef suet and catfood...the slick was started. Finally a few Gulls appeared (they probably saw me tossing the suet over) such as this adult Greater Black-backed.-

     Another pair of Razorbills-

     Plenty of Gannets-

     Finally the first "tube nose" of the day.....the first of five Fulmars of the day. It had followed the chumline perfectly!-

    And a few Laughing Gulls came-

     The Gannet numbers were excellent with many coming close to the vessel.....probably being nosey seeing what the nearly fifty Black-backed Gulls were doing-

     Another Razorbill-

     Two more Razorbills-

     And more Fulmars following my slickline-

     These three Oldsquaw flew right by the stern of the vessel. By the time I grabbed my camera, they had passed by.

     Another "yellow- legged" Herring Gull with a large p10 mirror-

    The Black-backed Gulls were hanging all around the vessel and chowing down on all the suet and catfood!-

      It was 2:00 pm and the Captain announced to "reel 'em up" was time to head in. It was perfect timing since the Cod and Haddock had slowed biting and the pesky Dogfish (Sand Sharks) had moved into the cod grounds. This was also good because the birds had also slowed down and soon the best part of the day would happen....the ride in. This is when a pandemonium of feeding frenzied birds will follow the vessel in all the way to port as the mates clean all the fish. Besides, Dad and I had filled up a cooler to the top with Cod and Haddock, plenty for the whole family and a few friends.-

     The Yankee Patriot slowly steamed back towards Gloucester and the mates sharpened their knives on the stern. The filleting of fish had begun.....and the Gulls knew it! Soon we had nearly seventy-five Gulls (just about all Greater Black-backed) following us in. This was the only Black-backed with yellow legs-

     And the Gannets started showing up-

     The yellow-legged Black-backed-

     The Greater Black-backed Gulls were soon joined by a few Herring Gulls including this very interestingly patterned 1st to 2nd cycle Gull. I loved the plumage so I took a few shots. Interesting bird!-

     Amazingly, three Common Terns joined in on the Gull feeding frenzy. They stayed for a little while and then flew off towards Sandy Point or Plum Island-

     More Gannets came-

     But the bird that really caught my eye was this banded Greater Black-backed was an Appledore Island Gull    

     I sent in the band and location information and haven't received a report yet. I am sure Dr. Ellis is busy on the Island with the start of the Gull nesting season.-

     A few Laughing Gull joined in-

     Part of the following Gulls-

     Another sub-adult Gannet-

      Back in Gloucester Harbor. Ten Pound Island-

    What a great day! Time to start a new year an to get ready for next year at the World Championships!

Highlights from today:

Razorbill- 11
Common Murre- 3
Fulmar- 5
Gannets- 75-100
Laughing Gulls- 5
Common Terns- 3

Keith Mueller