Monday, August 25, 2008

Whale Watch and Pelagic Birds

A group of 18 adventurers, Priscilla Wood and I headed to Plymouth, MA to join the whale watch last Saturday. My expectations for birds were low, as on most of these whale watches we have seen very few birds other than Wilson's Storm-Petrel. This day was not like those in the past!

After the 3 hour drive from Connecticut and the hour and 15 minute slog out to Stellwagen Bank, we saw our first pelagic species and the day began to get interesting.

Both Cory's and Greater Shearwaters were in good numbers and cooperative by sitting on the water as the boat moved by. Later as we stopped to view one of the three or four Humpback Whales we saw that day, the shearwaters came in close for great looks.

The first jaegers we encountered were Parasitic Jaegers, two flying close enough to get a good look but not photographic opportunities as we motored our way out to the whale site. Later, as we were looking at whales, two or more Pomarine Jaegers came very close, giving us more chance to study and compare them with the earlier jaegers.

In transit, we had the opportunity to get a brief look at a Sooty Shearwater sitting among some distant Cory's. There also, was a very brief and distant look at a Manx Shearwater and a few fast moving Wilson's Storm-Petrels.

The whales were equally as cooperative as the birds, showing us many behaviors including "Fluke Outs, Waving, and Logging," all at very close range. The Humpbacks were not the only whale species, as we too had a look at the much smaller Minke Whale.

A great day and not too far from home! Just your standard 14 hour work day for Priscilla and me.

Mississippi Kite

A couple of weeks ago two birding pals and I went up to Simsbury in search of the kites that had been reported from the area. We had some good luck without having to wait too long for them to make an appearance. I was able to snap a few shots, nothing great, but it does show the birds.

We saw the kites at close range a few times, once being able to hear the cicada it was carrying buzzing in its beak.

These occasional forays into the field with friends are great, the spirit of the chase always fun to share with others (and it saves gas too).