Monday, August 22, 2016

Chasing Pelagics

Monday, August 21st
Atlantic Spotted Dolphins

Enthusiastic birders, Dave and Tammy McQuade, have actively been  engaged in the search for pelagics out in The Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf is not known for the type of off-shore birding one can experience off Cape Hatteras or Monterey Bay, but Dave and Tammy have been finding the unexpected.  Last year they encountered a juvenile Red-footed Booby and last month an Arctic Tern.

Sooty Tern

I was invited to join them on there boat for this month's sojourn. Yesterday, we left the dock at 6:30 AM in Ft Myers with the added company of Eary and Jennifer Warren. The plan was to search the waters off Lee County, with investigations targeted toward the known reefs and wrecks. Shearwaters and Storm-Petrels were a part of today's target list along with pelagic terns and any migrating neo-tropics. 

Our list for the day was rather short on the pelagics. For me, the sighting of a Band-rumped Storm-Petrel was a lifer and the juvenile Magnificent Frigatebirds, Sooty Terns, Bridled Terns and Black Terns rounded out the day. As for migrants, we saw Cliff and Barn Swallows, plus Hooded and Prothonotary Warblers

Immature Sooty Tern

Other wildlife included a very large pod of leaping Atlantic Spotted Dolphins and several Bottlenose Dolphins. A couple of Loggerhead Turtles were spotted as well as a Leatherback Turtle. And watching the Flying Fish skim across the surface of the water helped to fill time time between bird sightings

Atlantic Spotted Dolphins

Notable was the absence any gulls, pelicans or royal terns till we actually were approaching the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River was we were returning in the late afternoon. 

I really appreciate the invitation from Dave and Tammy and wish them luck is their quest to hit 600 birds for this year. Fifty to go.

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