A Fall Pelagic: 1 lifer, 2 year birds, and a Whole Lotta Gannets.

Today 30 birders- myself included- set out from Galilee RI for a day of seabirding.  I caught a ride up with Alex Burdo, and we spent a great day birding out on the seas.  The very rough seas.  The swells were pretty terrifying, when you see then sweeping toward you, and more so when they plow against the boat, causing a whole lot of pitching at an alarming strength.  The winds were blowing SW, not great for seabirds.  But it was a really fun, adventurous trip.  The downside was getting soaked by a wave over the bow, but no gear was damaged, so no harm done.

The birds we saw were not neccesarily unusual, and we missed some birds we should not have missed, like Northern Fulmar, but all the birds we did see, except a few, we had  gorgeous looks of.   As the title suggested, there were a whole lot of gannets.  Definitely the best looks i’ve ever had in my life, the sulids were our constant companions, and would soar feet from the boat.  Most of the action happened off block Island, where we anchored and started chumming.  It was also nice to meet John Vanderpoel, who is doing a big year this year, and has so far pulled up a remarkable total of 734 birds.  Highlights below:

Manx Shearwater–  A lifer for me, and finally!  Though are views could of been better, it was still a Manx Shearwater, and an awesome seabird.

Great Shearwater– A YB.  We saw a few of these guys, and when we started chumming while anchored, we got beautiful looks, the best I’ve ever had.

Northern Gannet-  Need I say more? Todays experiences with this birds were unforgettable, espeacially watching them dive feet from the boat.

Iceland Gull– 1 really nice, cooperative individual was attracted to the chumming.

Razorbill–  I’d estimate was saw about 10 Razorbills, most flying, but 1 beautiful bird sitting on the water.

Dovekie–  2 flybys.

Lesser-black Backed Gull– A few, though the most cooperative was a 1st winter bird at the chum.

Black-legged Kittiwake–  A handful were seen, but I always was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Finally I got good looks at one warily investigating the chum line.

Bonaparte’s Gull-  A couple flyby flocks in the harbor.

Purple Sandpiper–  1 on the harbor jetty with Ruddy Turnstones.

Also a shout out to Keith Mueller, who provided his beautiful bird decoys, which I’m sure fooled even the birds ( not to mention the oblivious birders.)  And of course, thank you to Carlos Pedro for once again running a great trip.  Photos below:

The Galilee port at dawn

Block Island (The water was very calm here because the island acted as a makeshift shield.)

Iceland Gull (center bird)

Iceland Gull

Great Shearwater

Northern Gannet



2nd year Gannet

Couldn't help posting another shot...

A great day!

For more photos, see Alex Burdos blog here.

– Brendan

One response to “A Fall Pelagic: 1 lifer, 2 year birds, and a Whole Lotta Gannets.

  1. Pingback: 2/4- A Day on the Sound « Catching the Thermals·

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