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Dolphin Fleet Bird Update, July 19, by Peter Trull

On Saturday July 19, Wilson’s Storm-petrels were finally becoming more evident in large numbers.   These tiny birds, about as big as a Northern Cardinal, weighing about two ounces, flew constantly around the boat, extending in large numbers to the horizon.  Most were observed on the SW corner of Stellwagen Bank and east of Race Point, a constant blanket of petrels. At one point I had the people on the boat look at the petrels with naked eye off the starboard side, looking east.  Petrels were visible, in numbers, but when I passed around my binoculars and urged people to look through their own, it was evident that the petrels were so abundant they looked like gnats, to the horizon.  I did 1 minute counts with the boat moving @15 knots. Counts ranged from 350 WSP/min to 550 WSP/min.

After 15 counts my tally was;

Wilson’s Storm-petrel – 6722…….there were tons more than this…..

Cory’s Shearwater, a warm water species has been observed off of Provincetown and to the east in unprecedented numbers this year.  Typically seen south of the Vineyard during the summer, we have seen Cory’s on every trip this summer.  It is a beautiful, large brown mantled, yellow beaked shearwater, slightly larger than a greater, lacking the dark cap.  The large yellow bill is the best identification mark.

Cory’s Shearwater – 109

Greater Shearwater – 272

Sooty Shearwater – 41

Manx Shearwater -3

Parasitic Jaeger – 4

Pomarine Jaeger – 1

Black Tern – 1 Ad.

Common Tern – 265

Roseate Tern (still only) 2

Monarch Butterfly – 1

Bumblebee – 1

Laughing Gull – 335 adults and 1y

For folks wanting to observe Cory’s Shearwater, they are evident throughout and at close range.

35 – 40 humpbacks in all familiar behaviors over the course of the day. Massive open mouth, bubble net, bubble columns, kick feeding, up to 10 whales open mouthed through one bubble cloud….. lob-tailing, chin and spin breaching, flipper slapping.  While the mothers are gorging themselves with sand eels, calves are surface active at or near the vessels.

It’s a good year.