Showing posts from June, 2012

NC pelagics, photo highlights - Skuas & Jaegers

Over our three days at sea we recorded a South Polar Skua and all 3 jaeger species. Below are select images of the SP Skua, a Long-tailed Jaeger, and a few Poms.   South Polar Skua, a rather dark individual Long-tailed Jaeger - a near adult bird, the only signs of immaturity, as far as I can tell, are a couple of underwing coverts and a single undertail covert. Third-summer?   Pomarine Jaeger (presumed third-summer) Pomarine Jaeger (second summer) Pomarine Jaeger (presumed second summer)  - NB

"Fall" migration begins

Just a couple days after the first official day of summer arrived, the season's first southbound shorebirds were reported in the area. While CT has seen just a trickle of a few birds, shorebird hotspots in the northeast are already seeing decent numbers (for the time of year) of southbound birds. It can be difficult or impossible to determine if certain individual birds are true migrants or just summering, but when we're talking about a re-appearance of Lesser Yellowlegs, Short-billed Dowitchers, and Least Sandpipers, we have our answer. The current numbers and diversity at our latitude seems higher to me than is typical for late June. While it's exciting to kick off the summer shorebirding a bit early, this is possibly a sign that there was more failed breeding in the arctic than in a typical year. There are good breeding seasons and there are poor ones. And a poor breeding season in part of the arctic does not mean that is the case everywhere. But it makes you wonder. W

More boobies?

Last summer several eastern US states enjoyed Brown Boobies thanks to a northward incursion of the species. Two particular individuals, one at Cape Cod, MA and another at Cape May, NY remained for weeks and were seen by hundreds from shore. We may in for a repeat performance this year. Over the past week or so, Brown Boobies have been seen in South Carolina, North Carolina, and even New Brunswick. We'll see how this develops, but all east coast birders should be on the lookout for this species, which is most often seen perched on channel markers or buoys.  - NB

NC pelagics, photo highlights - Tubenoses

Cory's Shearwater   Calonectris diomedea borealis "Scopoli's" [Cory's] Shearwater   Calonectris diomedea diomedea Compared to borealis , Scopoli's appears smaller-headed and slimmer-billed with narrower wings. However, the go-to field mark is the underwing pattern. Specifically, on Scopoli's, the white on the wing linings bleeds well into the underside of the primaries. Note this pattern in the Scopoli's shown above, as well as the subtle structural differences. In borealis , the dark primaries contrast rather strongly with the white wing linings. The above bird is a nice example of Scopoli's [Cory's] Shearwater, currently treated as a subspecies of Cory's by the AOU but may be destined for full species status in the near future. Borealis can show some bleeding of white onto the primary bases but the extent of variation is still, as far as I can tell from my sources, being worked out. This was the only Scopoli'

Summer plans

Well I'm back from a busy and incredibly fun month of birding trips (FL, AK, NC). This was the first time I tried blogging from the road and found it easy and fun. Apologies for the lack of photos from AK and Hatteras - decided against bringing my laptop so I was relegated to blogging from my smartphone. Photos from all three trips are on their way, probably in reverse chronological order. I should get some seabird photos up very soon. The rest of my summer sounds much less exciting, but far more relaxing. I have a decent amount of time off from work this summer, thanks to a sweet schedule and previous banking of vacation time. My only real trip will be a week in the Yellowstone NP area in July. Otherwise, I will be taking a couple short road trips. Birding will not be my main focus but I'm looking forward to some western birds in July and the BBC August overnight pelagic. In the meantime I'll be doing local birding & boating here and there. I could use a good rarity