When my friend Chris Feeney told me about his plans to go out with Brian Patteson, for a series of pelagic trips, I just couldn’t pass up the chance.
Expectations were high when I left Ottawa for the 15 hour drive to Hatteras Landing Marina. I needed a few birds as lifers, found only out in the Atlantic’s continental shelf, which takes two hours of full cruising speed to reach.
I had been out with Brian before and knew what I was getting into. Brian has been running pelagic trips since 1985 and as of 2008 is running up to 52 trips per years with the Stormy Petrel II. Seabirding limits the number of passengers to 25, which is less than 2/3 of the boats capacity. It is a very stable boat, to which I can attest, was needed on the days I chose for my pelagic’s.
While Brian is piloting the Stormy Petrel II, Kate Sutherland, a great spotter and leader, for the past 13 years takes care of the chumming and everything else for the passenger’s comfort, to ensure they have a wonderful experience. Their are also numerous spotters that make sure no one misses any bird.
It not always possible to get decent photos, especially when seas are high but by the end of the 3rd day, I was getting my sea legs which made it a bit easier.
I managed 3 life birds on my 3 pelagic trip’s:
Audubon Shearwater – ABA Bird Photo #641
Fea’s Petrel – ABA Bird Photo #642
Lousy photo but until I get something better it will have to do……..A photo is what it is.
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel – ABA Bird Photo #643
I improved on many of my seabird images but success rates on a rocking boat are rather low.
South Polar Skua
This bird came so close, people were trying to feed it by hand….
Wilson’s Storm Petrel
I even got lucky enough to get this photo of a shearwater actually shearing the water, hence the name.
You never know what’s going to fly by the boat to take a look see….
A great birding experience anywhere is always enhanced, when accompanied by good friends, Thanks Chris, for the company.
To new friends Theresia, Doug, John, Scott and Family, all the spotters, Kate and of course Brian Patteson whose love of seabirding makes these trips possible. It was a joy to spend 3 days on board the Stormy Petrel II with people who share a love and passion for birds.
If you think you are going to be seasick, take over the counter medications, wear a patch, use the wristbands, anything at all to alleviate the symptoms. You will really enjoy the experience!
If Brian says it going to be rough, YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT WILL BE!
It is a great experience for any birder, I’ll be back in 2015, looking for that repeat on the Fea’s Petrel, possibly seeing a Trinidade Petrel, Bermuda Petrel or a European Storm-Petrel, all of which were seen on the first trip of this year. Let’s not forget Tropicbirds while we’re at it.
Seabirding Pelagic Trip’s Website is: http://www.patteson.com/ Check it out and maybe next year I’ll see you on the Stormy Petrel II.
Ciao for now