Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Medication is my friend.

I've expressed (though probably insufficiently) how sick I got last year.  This year I was prepared for the Seabirding pelagic out of Hattaras.  I took ginger tablets (and lots of them) for 2 days leading up to (and through) the trip.  I put a scopolamine patch on as soon as I got on the boat (they recommend putting it on before that but I knew I'd be fine for the first 2 hours while the boat was up on a plane motoring out), and then took over-the-counter meclizine every 4 hours while on board.  Between the herbal, the anti-cholinergic, the anti-histamine, and the all-purpose anti-nausea Zofran tablets that I took once or twice just in case, I had no seasickness at all (now mid-afternoon drowsiness on the other hand...).

The first thing a person encounters as they get out to deep water (which surprised me how common they were last year) is flying fish.  Photographing them isn't super easy, identifying them is even harder.  I don't know what this first one is, it was pretty large and could soar a couple hundred feet.
 The next ones were smaller and less common, though more likely to occur in small schools.  Howell calls them Odd-spot Midgets for the asymmetric black spot on a single side fin.

Black-capped Petrel was the first consequential bird we came across upon reaching the gulf stream.
 The top bird is a Dark-faced type (currently I think a subspecies though there's speculation they segregate enough on the breeding islands to be their own species) as well as a blurrier Light-faced type below.

Wilson's Storm Petrel is the most common seabird (maybe in the world) and they were behind the boat in at least some numbers much of the day.

 If you look closely, you'll see that most of the above birds are in at least some degree of wing moult, missing a few mid-inner primaries.  Band-rumped and Leach's Storm-petrels are bigger than Wilson's and when you see a Wilson's with the full complement of wing feathers it gives the impression of a larger bird (and probably flies a little different too).
The toes projecting past the tailtip though confirm it to be the long-legged Wilson's (apparently most of the Southern Hemisphere species, of which Wilson's is one, have long legs).  This one is probably a first year bird, wintering in our summer.

To keep this post from getting too long I'm going to hold the highlight bird for the next post.  We spent a lot of time in the deepwater, but didn't come across a ton of diversity.  We started working our way back and came upon a collection of Cory's Shearwaters where the Gulf Stream meets the near(er) shore waters, still probably about 20 miles out.  The warm tones of the Cory's conflicted somewhat with the cold blue ocean.

In this same area we came across a small group of Red-necked Phalaropes that tolerated close approach.
 Here you can see the darker underwings that could help separate a distant one from a Red Phalarope
It reminded me of having Red Phalaropes in the old boat a similar distance from shore in Lake Michigan a few years ago.

1 comment:

Matt said...

the flying fish turns out to be probably Atlantic Patchwing baesd on the site