Tuesday, June 19, 2012

First Summer Pelagic

Met up with Capt. Max Kramer and left Montauk at 5am, with no clear expectations, to see what we could find.   We started out about 20 miles South of Quogue and drifted / slowly cruised South and East for most of the day, ending up about 35 miles South East of Montauk.  We made many stops and chummed pretty solidly throughout the day resulting in a constant stream of birds visiting the boat.

Great Shearwaters seem very confident around boats and stayed with us all day, as did the Wilson's Storm-Petrels.  I estimated that we saw 200 Greats and 60 Wilson's during the day.  Despite watching the Storm-Petrels all day I wasn't able to pick any other species out though, and we'll perhaps have to go out further to find them.

Great Shearwater

We also had 6 Cory's Shearwaters, 2 Sooty Shearwaters and a single Manx Shearwater.

Corey's Shearwater

Manx Shearwater

Perhaps the most exciting thing though was the almost constant presence of Jaegers, starting with the beautiful Pomarine Jaeger that found us as soon as we started chumming.

Pomarine Jaeger

We also got to spend a lot of time with "Jaeger sp." pondering the ID of a number of birds in different plumages.  This one in the end, I settled on as Long-tailed Jaeger despite the very Parasitic Jaeger looking tail extensions.

Long-tailed Jaeger

Amongst the "non-birds" the clear highlight was a 15-foot Basking Shark but we also saw Blue Sharks, Bluefish and feeding Bluefin Tuna.

Basking Shark

In year-bird terms (the point after-all), I added 5 species to bring the total to 319.  A very promising start to the season and nice to be able to get out and find my own birds at sea.

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