Date: 6/22/18 4:59 pm
From: Shaibal Mitra <Shaibal.Mitra...>
Subject: [nysbirds-l] Holy Tadoussac! [Major Shearwater Flight Long Island]
--I exclaimed upon focusing my scope on the ocean this morning. Or else something like that but banned by the FCC.

The visual field at RMSP between when I arrived around 8:50 and at least through 9:20 was probably more spectacular than I have ever seen. It remained amazing through 9:40, then diminished considerably (not more than 150 total shearwaters after 9:40).

The overall rate of passage and the proportions of the three species varied considerably, with SOSH dominating early, then COSH building and surpassing SOSH, and GRSH making a few good pulses during the height of it all.

I took a total of 14 single-minute exact counts of birds passing through my fixed scope pointing straight out, and I compared extrapolations from these to my raw impression to produce my estimates: 750 COSH, 500 SOSH, and 75 GRSH.

Ken and Sue Feustel, Doug Futuyma, and Mike Zito were there before me and already recorded >200 Sooties, but the Cory's crush began not long before I arrived, and I think the first Greats were detected after I arrived. Curiously, zero Northern Gannets or Wilson's Storm-Petrels were observed.

The focus of attention from 9:27-9:37 was a Calonectris shearwater that was clearly significantly smaller than borealis Cory's, with a strikingly dark cap and slim dark bill. Like some (but unlike most) of the >1,000 shearwaters we saw, this bird was close in and foraged at length, repeatedly retreating 50 meters or so to the west then foraging (pattering even) back into the easterly wind, for almost ten minutes. Even so, the bird was too distant and mobile for digiscoping (I took a few dozen Hail Marys with my slr pointed at the right general part of the ocean, which I haven't reviewed yet). The bird's movements left me very confident that it was smaller than a Cory's, and its distinctly dark-capped appearance was obvious to all and absolutely unique among the many Cory's we saw. All this, along with the slim, dark bill (I could see the heavy, pale bills on Cory's that were significantly farther out) made a very strong impression. I believe this was a Cape Verde Shearwater.

There was also also a Sandwich Tern, out over the ocean, that gave one shift of observers distant views. This was a significant bird for me--my first ever at Fire Island Inlet after 22+ years of intensive coverage.

Shai Mitra
Bay Shore


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