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Naturalist Notebook – October 26 and October 27

*     The last weekend of the 2013 season began with high winds and high seas.  In the waves of October 26 only an ocean sunfish was sighted.

*     The following day, October 27, a very intensive search of the surrounding area produced a very quick glimpse of a minke whale and an incredible show of terns being scared out of their lunch by larger jaegers.

*     This has been an interesting   season.  Though the numbers of humpback whales were less than previous years, the Dolphin Fleet did encounter at least six species of toothed whales:  the more common Atlantic White-sided Dolphins and the Harbor Porpoise, and numerous sightings of Common Dolphins, as well as a few sightings of Pilot Whales, a single sighting of Atlantic Bottlenosed Dolphins, and a sighting of two White-beaked Dolphins.  The latter two sightings are fairly rare in our waters, our waters being the southern most limit of the white-beaks’ range and the northern most of the bottlenosed.

*  In addition, there were also sightings of at least five species of baleen whales.  Humpbacks, finback, minkes, and right whales were joined by Sei Whales, feeding on the copepods of the spring bloom alongside the Right Whales.

*     There were also numerous sightings of both Harbor Seals and Gray Seals.  And there were sharks, mostly Basking Sharks and Blue Sharks, but there were also suggestions that maybe a Great White was around.  Ocean Sunfish, Bluefin Tuna, Bluefish, Stripers and, on Saturday mornings, a variety of crabs, rounded out the season’s flightless species.

*     As for the birds, in addition to the Northern Gannets and the various species of Gulls and Shearwaters, there were also Wilson’s Storm Petrels, White-winged Scoters, Black Scoters, Surf Scoters, Common Terns, Least Terns, Black Terns, Parasitic and Pomerine Jaegers, Forster’s Terns, and Northern Fulmars, there were also sightings of South Polar Skua, red-throated Hummingbirds, and a Mute Swan.  And also the Common Eiders, Double-crested Cormorants, Bonaparte’s Gulls, Iceland and Glaucous Gulls, Night Herons and Blue Herons, Common Loons, and a variety of songbirds that had been wafted a little off course.