Sunday, January 6, 2013

Penguins of the North

 [Dovekie off Cape May, NJ at Five Fathom Bank today (Sunday). The smallest of the alcids, or penguins of the north, it is thought by some to be the most abundant bird worldwide, although it is certainly not abundant a few miles off NJ, even this year with the kind of alcid movement we've seen. Click to enlarge all photos.]

Sure, we'll take a boat ride off NJ in January. I guess it was Richard Crossley's idea, he of The Crossley Guide who wanted photos of Dovekies in flight. Richard didn't get his Dovekie shots, although we saw three - he told me he was imagining groups on the water and taking off, kind of like you'd see these birds in The Crossley Guide. And I didn't get the Great Skua, my most wanted bird of a winter ocean trip. But our six hour tour out to Five Fathom Bank and back, only a dozen or so miles offshore, yielded some great stuff. How could it not, with not-terrible seas and the likes of Richard, Michael O'Brien, Jim Dowdell, Sam Galick, and Tom Reed on board? And special thanks are due Bob Lubberman, who brokered our little charter trip with the folks of the Canyon Clipper.

I'm not sure whether the Dovekies or the single Common Murre deserve the starring role on the trip, because we saw something like 90 Razorbills, too.

 [This Common Murre was a Cape May County bird for me. Note the extensive white behind the distinctive dark line running down from the eye, the thin bill, and the bit of streaking you can see on the flanks.]

[Four of the ca. 90 Razorbills we saw on the trip today. Note the thinner bill of the bird second from right, a first year individual. It should be noted that while we saw a lot of Razorbills, many of the looks were of distant flying birds, usually in small flocks of 2-6 individuals. Some may have been within sight of land off Stone Harbor, but only with diligent scanning and keen skills.]

 [Something had raked this Black-legged Kittewake over pretty well - wonder if the injuries were caused by a marauding skua?]

[Curiously, almost no gulls were about offshore to follow our popcorn chum stream, but an occasional Northern Gannet came close.]

No comments:

Post a Comment