BIRD SIGHTINGS WEEK OF 5 to 11 OCTOBER
Birding continued to be exciting this week. Pelagic (oceanic) birds have again been consistent and autumn migrants are now more regularly seen.
Greater shearwaters continue to be seen regularly. In most instances they are seen as singles, pairs or triplets, though much larger aggregations are still being spotted. One particularly large group of approximately 70 to 80 greaters was seen on 9 October. I spotted one Manx shearwater in the group as were several northern fulmars.
This has again been a great week for watching jaegers. As was the case last week,
many have been parasitics but there are also some pomarines. On 11 October, we watched two groups of eight and seven jaegers between Wood End and Race Point. Many of these are in beautiful adult plumage. This week there are more steady sightings of jaegers outside Race Point as well. As always, look for their behavior of pirating of sand lance from terns which the jaegers will do as singles and other times in bands of two to four attackers. Sometimes the attacks are successful but many times they are not.
Ducks and geese are also on being observed as they move through the area. Sightings of white-winged scoter flocks of 10 to 20 birds are to be had on most trips. On October seventh a steady 15 knot wind pushed waves and clouds ahead. The clouds were grey and thick and the curtain ended abruptly to be replaced by clear blue sky. High overhead I saw my first chevron of
Northern fulmars are still inshore in numbers of 15 to 25 per trip. This is likely the result of prevailing easterly winds. We’ve had a lot of easterly wind this summer and autumn and this week has been no exception. The fulmars are still more numerous and consistent than I’ve seen in 25 years. Be careful though when counting fulmars. If you watch carefully you will notice that they routinely make large circles of over one hundred yards in diameter only to soar back past the boat two minutes later while easily being thought of as a different individual. If you follow them though you’ll see that the same individual will fly off into the distance and then return from around the other side of the boat as it soars just above the passing swells.
This week common loons are more regularly seen as singles and pairs as they migrate south for their winter. Some will spend the winter locally while others will likely continue southward.
Northern gannets are increasing in number as well. Immatures have been arriving over these past couple of weeks and continue to do so. Adults with their brilliant white body and deep black wing tips are now also seen between Wood End and Race Point. All are wheeling about overhead in search of food to plunge dive toward.
While travelling along the beaches it is also good to look for the ever increasing numbers of black-legged kitiwakes. They are a mainly pelagic gull that will spend its winters off the northeastern
On the sixth of October we had a dark-eyed junco circling the boat for about fifteen minutes. And on the eighth of October we had a brown creeper spend about 45 minutes with us on the return trip from the triangle area northeast of Race Point. These are particularly interesting offshore sightings because these are two species of bird that one would normally not see offshore. They are land birds and when they are blown offshore or even follow boats offshore they can then tire but they have no place to perch. Land birds compared to pelagic birds typically have less well developed oil glands with which to preen and waterproof their feathers. Consequently if land birds hit the water the wings can quickly become waterlogged and the birds drown. The junco was a quick visitor. The creeper by contrast clutched to my pant leg for about ten minutes. Then it flew off, did a loop around the boat, and spent another 15 minutes on the pant leg of a passenger on the top deck. When we were closer to Peaked Hill the creeper flew off in the direction of the dunes.