November Pelagic Trip Off Cape Cod

They threw out bait to attract the birds (called chumming) and we got close looks at several species of gulls.  The Black-legged Kittiwake and Lesser Black-backed Gulls are ones I don't see every day!)

They threw out bait to attract the birds (called chumming) and we got close looks at several species of gulls. The Black-legged Kittiwake and Lesser Black-backed Gulls are ones I don’t see every day!)

This past Saturday I went with friends on another pelagic trip off Cape Cod (see my post about the July trip, A Trip to the Edge of the Continental Shelf).  The venerable Brookline Bird Club sponsors a number of these trips each year and they are terrific ways for us land bound birders to see birds that can only be seen from way off shore.  Gone were the tiny Storm Petrels I saw in July to the southern parts of their range, but their absence was more than compensated for by the presence of  wintering sea ducks in staggering numbers.  We saw a flock of Common Eiders estimated at 60,000 strong and an even greater spectacle of Long-tailed Ducks, including a flock that flew by the boat for a full five minutes was estimated at 150,000!  We passed Monomoy Island where Gray Seals congregate along the shoreline (attracting dozens of Great White Sharks).  They give birth to their pups there in January.  Along the way we encountered a small flock of Goldfinches and three Robins out over the Atlantic.  I hope they found their way back to dry land.

There were several large pods of Gray Seals lounging on the beach.

There were several large pods of Gray Seals lounging on the beach on Monomoy Island.

We were also treated to the sight of a large flock of Northern Gannets feeding, a practice that involves plunging like arrows into the ocean from considerable heights, and to top off the experience, several whale sightings, Minke and Humpbacks.

If you are a “facebook friend” there are a couple of videos and an album posted by Patrick Comins that give far better pictures than my little point and shoot (which ran out of battery) that I’ve shared on my FB page.

 

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6 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Peg said,

    Great overview! Thanks for sharing, exciting!!

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  2. 3

    Carla said,

    Sounds like a fabulous trip. How close were the Humpbacks?

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    • 4

      They came as close as about 250 feet of the boat. There was a presumed mother and calf and a couple of lone ones. They never breached like you see in the ads, but we did see their flukes. Did you look at Patrick’s album on fb? He had a few pictures of them.

      Like

  3. 5

    Carla said,

    I did look at his album, but just couldn’t remember about the whales. When I saw them in Hawaii, 2 Humpbacks actually came up and swam under our sight-seeing boat. The male came up at the back and blew air, and scared the beejebers out of me and my friend. I would love to see some that close again. They are simply incredible.

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  4. 6

    They never were THAT close! I think my beejebers would be gone too, if that had happened. The boar was 55′ long, but the whales were longer.

    Like


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