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Monday, February 06, 2012

Cape May Pelagic Trip

Keep on scanning, keep on scanning...there are Dovekie everywhere!
 Early Saturday morning, operating on only an hour and a half of sleep, I drove three hours down to Cape May to participate in a See Life Paulagics birding trip.  Great trip, with about 35 participants.  We went out over 35 miles off Cape May and saw lots of great birds, including 1000+ Dovekie, 18 Atlantic Puffin, 15 Razorbill, 4 Common Murre, 3 Northern Fulmar, and 2 Black-legged Kittiwake, as well as hundreds of Northern Gannet, and a constant stream of Great Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls feasting on chum off the back of the boat.
Dovekie partially eaten by a Great Black-backed Gull.

Note the Northern Fulmar at bottom left.  Not everyday you get a picture of one through a  camera phone :-)

Atlantic Puffin captured with an HTC Incredible Android phone and Zeiss 7x42 binocular.
Dovekies were everywhere out beyond 15 miles offshore.  At literally any time I could scan the ocean on my side of the boat and see 4-5 Dovekies in the water or flying by.  Much tougher to find Atlantic Puffin on the water as they rarely flew, and Razorbills were tough to see on the water--all but one I saw were in flight.

Dovekies must be a major food source for gulls out this far, we saw Herring Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls, and a Northern Fulmar eating Dovekies on the water.  We scared one gull of a Dovekie and scooped it up for a museum specimen.

Long trip (12 hours) on very smooth seas (thank goodness!).  I only saw 16 species out on the ocean, but fortunately there was a little bit of light as we pulled into the harbor, so I got to see another dozen species or so, including Purple Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Great Cormorant, and Long-tailed Duck.

So, if Dovekie is still a mythical bird for you, time to get out on one of these winter pelagics, lately they've found that Dovekie is by far the most common species once you get out far enough.

More of my own photos are on Facebook.


Laurence Butler said...

Cool! I'm still way too under developed as a birder to consider a Pelagic trip, but they seem to be very rewarding and beautiful approaches to a niche of birds that can't be seen well anywhere else.

birdchaser said...

While pelagic birding may seem hardcore, it is actually a great type of birding for a beginner--there is usually only a limited amount of variety out on the ocean (we only saw 16 species out on the ocean on this trip) so it isn't overwhelming. It can be tough to get good looks at every single bird, but usually possible to get great looks at most species.

fun run said...

Seems like Dovekies are like pigeons, isn't it?

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