Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Hydrographer Canyon: Pelagic Report

Being a pelagic birder is kinda like being part of a frat in college.  There are lots of weird rituals, the place is crazy the whole time, and there are times you question your sanity for showing up.  My wife and I did an "extreme" Pelagic out to Hydrographer Canyon in the Atlantic Ocean.  It was a 90 mile journey out there.  While I don't often do well with seasickness, this was a particularly tough sea.  Despite that, we saw some awesome birds and marine Life

An Audubon's Shearwater
Atlantic White Sided Dolphins
Cory's Shearwater
More Atlantic White Sided Dolphins with Wilson's Storm-Petrels
A Great Shearwater
Leach's Storm-Petrel
 Wilson's Storm-Petrel Feeding
A raft of Wilson's Storm-Petrels

We saw a ton of Great Shearwaters and Wilson's Storm-Petrels.  As a birder, there are certain skills that come in handy.  Many books talk about the skill of identifying birds by a couple of quick measures.  Birding on land can teach how this is a useful skill.  Pelagic birding teaches you this might be the only skill that matters.  I've taken the liberty of cropping and editing a lot of these photos for you, but that's not necessary how we experienced these birds.  They move fast while you are on a rocking fast moving boat.  So you need to try and pick up a few more quick skills like behavior and attention to detail.  The differences between some of these birds can be as simple a wing angle/length, or beak color and rump color.  Once again, add the fact that you are moving and this becomes a wonderful mental challenge.

If you can handle the sea (even if you, like me, will need medicinal assistance), Pelagic birding can be an awesome experience.  One that I will definitely do again!

A link to Pelagic Trips:

Cetaceans Seen:
Atlantic White Sided Dolphin
Bottlenose Dolphin
Common Dolphin
Risso's Dolphin
Minke Whale
Fin Whale

2013 Year Birds: 243
Red-Necked Phalarope
Audubon's Shearwater
Cory's Shearwater
Leach's Storm-Petrel
Band-Rumped Storm-Petrel

Coming Soon: A review of The Warbler Guide and Birding in Dixie (a multipart series)

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