Sunday, February 14, 2010

Jeffries Ledge Peglaic, NH

Yesterday was my first pelagic in the Atlantic Ocean. We went out of New Castle, New Hampshire, near the Maine border. A bald eagle flew over the boat as we all boarded and got the safety talk prior to departure. The water was a bit choppy to start, but calmed down to as near to glassy conditions as could be hoped for in the middle of winter. It was sunny and gorgeous out. We saw great cormorants, white-winged and surf scoters, long-tailed ducks, common eider, and American black ducks as we pulled out of the harbor.
Common Eider
The goal of the trip was definitely alcids, which is different from the pelagics I've been on out of CA, where its slightly more directed at tube-noses.
Common Murre
In fairly quick succession we got common murres, the more uncommon of the two murres likely, razorbills, and a dovekie flew straight by the boat. We got great looks at a cooperative murre swimming maybe 20 yards from the boat. The excitement was high, as black-legged kittiwakes and northern gannets were spotted with a mixed-gull flock containing predominantly greater black-backed gulls.
Atlantic Puffin
We then hit a quiet period, so after a while we decided to jog back to the area where we'd been having luck with birds before that. We saw two dovekies on the water that had clearly gorged on food because they could barely fly, and allowed us to get fairly close before picking up and flying a bit further out. We snuck up a few times before they tired of the game and took off.
Diving Puffin
The highlight of the trip for me was definitely Atlantic puffin! We had a gorgeous adult with that bright colorful bill - what an awesome bird. Our second was a young male, very dusky and sooty looking, but he was fairly cooperative, giving us good looks. Our last puffin was another colorful individual, who was fairly leery of the boat.
Black Guillemot
Great Black-backed Gull
As we motored back to the harbor spirits were definitely high. It was one of the best pelagics I've been on in terms of weather, and the birds were rockin'. Definitely worth getting up at 4am to drive to the coast from land-locked Vermont!
Surf Scoters
Here's a link to the photo gallery from another birder aboard the ship with much a better camera and more experience than me!

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