8 am Seabird & Whale Tales Excursion - New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance and Krill
We were 26 miles east of Chatham when we saw many blows in front of us. Our captain, Capt. Tommy O'Reilly did an excellent job of getting us into this concentration of whales, seabirds and fishing boats. We must have had at least 50 to 80 humpbacks feeding at the surface, some feeding along while others were feeding in small groups of up to 8 individuals. And we had thousands of shearwaters, mainly sooty shearwaters feeding right alongside the whales.
Alphorn, Anchor and calf, Apex, Bounce, Buzzard, Canopy, Cantilever, Centipede, Compass's 2008 calf, Coral, Crown, Crystal, Entropy, Fern, Ganesh, Habenero, Hancock, Isthmus, Midnight, Milkweed, Mystery, Palette and calf, Perseid, Pharos, Pisces and calf, Pox, Putter, Rapier and calf, Release, Rune, Shards, Springboard, Strike, Stub, Tau, Touche, Tracer, Treasure and Xylem.
Here is the trip report by David Clapp. A big thank you to David for writing up this report.Whales and Birds, Oh My!!
We knew early on that there were only a few whales and almost no sea birds in the Stellwagen Bank area. The NOAA crew was out on Stellwagen Friday and saw very little. So, we decided before leaving the pier that we had to run around Provincetown and down the backside of the Cape; past Truro, Wellfleet, Eastham, and Orleans. Our destination was to be a reliable, but distant, feeding area well off Chatham Light. It was about 27 miles offshore and a long boat ride from Plymouth. But, we had flat water and a lovely day to travel - so we went for it.
And are we glad we did!!
There were about eighty humpback whales in the area; 42 flukes were photographed and 37 individuals were identified. The others were too distant to bother with; there were whales everywhere. During the day a few Minke whales wandered through and there was one report of poorly and briefly seen dolphins.
The whales were bubble-feeding in groups up to six animals; as far as the eye could see. It was spectacular. The whales were one thing as they created and pierced pierced bubble nets taking sand lance by the ton. But there was more; as each net started to form, and as the bubble rose to the surface, hundreds of sooty shearwaters would flutter to the bubbles and await the frantic scurry of the small fish as the whales forced the toward the surface. They were well aware of the feeding habits of these whales and able to eat until they were to heavy to fly. There were times were the ocean was frothy with whale-blown bubbles and thousands of pencil-sized sand lance swam frenetically in all directions.
There were 3,000 or more sooty shearwaters, great shearwaters (35), Manx shearwaters (4), pomarine and parasitic jaegers (2 each), northern gannets (40ish) and a few Wilson’s Storm-Petrels and lots of hard-working gulls. There should have been hundreds of Wilson’s Storm-Petrels but for some reason there were very few. The birders also had a few common loons, terns, and cormorants. A surprise bird was seen off Race Point on the return trip. There were two Razorbills floating just off shore well seen and photographed.
It was a great day - special and memorable even for those of us who do this with some regularity.
David Clapp’s blog page ontheroadwithdec has three pages dedicated to this trip.
Great Shearwater 35
Manx Shearwater 4
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 30
Pomarine Jaeger 2
Parasitic Jaeger 2
Northern Gannet 40
Laughing Gull 40
Herring Gull 200
Great Black-backed Gull 40
Common Tern 65
Common Loon 8
Double-crested Cormorant 20