For the last five years HAS has been collaborating with Krill Carson’s NECWA organization on pelagic trips going out of Plymouth and Gloucester MA for eight hours in and around Stellwagen Bank waters, for a 100-mile round trip offshore. This year we ran it on October 22nd and the weather was beautiful and calm, around 60F. About 80 people participated on the ship, half of them birders and half whale watchers.
We saw a wide variety of seabirds, including 2 Black-legged Kittiwakes, 10 Razorbills (1 very close to the ship for several minutes), 3 NorthernFulmars, four species of shearwaters, two species of jaegers (seen well as they chased Common Terns), but we saw no phalaropes or storm-petrels. We looked for three specific rarities but none of these were seen (Sabine’s Gull, Scopoli’s Shearwater, skuas). We enjoyed good views of about 1,000 Double-crested Cormorants flying in several formations over the ship, migrating south as we approached Gloucester in the afternoon. We also had good views of 10 Humpback Whales, 20 Common Dolphins and one sunfish. We did a 5-minute plankton tow, and we will be taking the preserved samples to UConn for lab analysis soon, hoping to learn more about the changing ocean ecosystem in these waters.
We ended up with 35 species of birds offshore, and a happy group of observers. The full trip report and some photos are available at trips33.blogspot.com.