Date: 8/29/17 7:27 pm From: 'Phil Brown' via NHBirds <nhbirds...> Subject: [NHBirds] Seabirds, Whales, & Ales FT summary, 8/23
On August 23, New Hampshire Audubon offered a slightlydifferent type of field trip pairing birds and beer. “Seabirds, Whales, andAles” was launched with much fanfare as a vanful of participants departed theMcLane Center in Concord bright and early for the NH Seacoast.
Steve Mirick and I guided the group of 13 around localhotspots during the morning hours in search of shorebirds and some stakeoutsincluding the Night-Heron roost in Seabrook, which had both a juvenileYellow-crowned and up to 9 Black-crowneds. The Baird’s Sandpiper that Stevefound on Foss Beach stuck around and yielded stunning looks at close range fromthe rocks above the beach where it fed. Henry’s Pool produced an excellentselection of shorebirds including nice comparisons of both yellowlegs, andsingle Pectoral and Solitary Sandpipers. Cross Beach Road was full of Tree andsome Bank Swallows, and still had a lingering Purple Martin near the nestboxes.
Then it was onto the beer! Smuttynose Brewery in Hampton wasthe chosen location and a natural fit for a NH Audubon group for severalreasons. The brewery is a LEED-Gold certified facility (one of just three inthe country). NH Audubon’s McLane Center headquarters was the first LEED-Goldbuilding in the state of NH. Birder and longtime Seacoast Chapter member, PaulLacourse, works at Smuttynose and gives an excellent tour. And last, but notleast, the beer is good! The group enjoyed Paul’s informative tour about beerbrewing and some of the sustainability features of the facility before a briefsampling session. This was followed up with a sit-down meal at SmuttynoseBrewery’s Hayseed Restaurant.
Due to stormy seas from a passing cold front the eveningbefore, the morning whale watch that the group was scheduled to go on wascancelled. Thankfully, the afternoon Granite State Whale Watch was on and theseas had calmed. In fact, we couldn’t have asked for a better whale watchexperience - the whales and seabirds put on a stellar show! There were severalhighlights in each category: pods of Atlantic White-sided Dolphins rippingacross the surface of the water in every direction (one large group containedover 200 individuals!), a Humpback Whale and calf feeding alongside the boatfor some time, a feeding frenzy of Northern Gannets cruising and diving allaround the boat, Wilson’s Storm-Petrels, Great Shearwaters, and Red-neckedPhalaropes in good numbers and viewed under optimal conditions. Plus, Steve gotto share the mic with the Blue Ocean Society narrators, so he was able to callout birds and provide seabird lessons to everyone aboard! Upon docking back inRye Harbor, there were smiles all around. The fresh ocean air and scenery, lifebirds seen by many, newfound camaraderie between participants sharing commoninterests, and all the memories (and photographs) made for a fun and informativeday.
It was easy to see how craft beer and birding pairs so well!As always, stay tuned for the Afield newsletter and this list for more fieldtrips offerings, including the two upcoming pelagic trip opportunitiessponsored by NH Audubon. Highlights:Great Shearwater – 30+; estimateSooty Shearwater – 3Wilson’s Storm-Petrel – 60+; estimateNorthern Gannet – 350+; estimate & very difficult tokeep track ofBlack-crowned Night-Heron – 9; Seabrook Rt. 1A roostYellow-crowned Night-Heron – 1; Seabrook Rt. 1A roostBaird’s Sandpiper – 1; Foss BeachPectoral Sandpiper – 1; Henry’s PoolRed-necked Phalarope – 65; small groups of up to 15 or so onthe waterBonaparte’s Gull – 2Black Tern – 2; together with phalaropes spotted by SteveMerlin – 1Purple Martin – 1Tree Swallow – thousands for the day including some flyingback to mainland from the Isles of Shoals at day’s end Phil Brown (for Steve Mirick & the NH Audubon group)