Wilson's storm petrel
30+ Wilson's storm petrels
First GREAT SHEARWATER of the season
First COMMON TERNS of the season
Herring gull chicks on Whitehorse Island
Things have really started to pick up out on the bay. Alcids are everywhere around the Wolves archipelago (I will post a map soon for those who are not familiar with the area). Atlantic puffins are becoming ever more numerous, far out numbering the razorbills and murres. Tubenoses are also plentiful, with the dominant species being the sooty Shearwater. I spotted the one GREAT SHEARWATER, the first of the season and there is still a good number of MANX SHEARWATER around.
Whitehorse island is busy with freshly hatched activity. This is the first day that I recorded gull chicks on the island. All of them appeared to be herring gulls. No sign of chicks yet in the Kittiwake nests, although the adults are still sitting on nests.
|Adult herring gulls with chick|
|Herring gulls on nests|
|Herring gull chicks|
Today, July 2nd I spotted a puffin next to Whitehorse. This is the first puffin I have seen near the island. Both Razorbills and Guillemots appear to be nesting on the island so maybe we will have a puffin nest in the years to come. I believe they have attempted nesting there before(?)
A couple bald eagles have been hanging out on the opposite side of Whitehorse island. They seem to hide on the western side of the island in order to ambush the nesting birds on the eastern side. Their arrival may be in tune with the hatching of the young gulls. This juvenile is perched atop an abandoned raven nest that has not been used in quite a few years.
|Juvenile bald eagle atop abandoned raven nest|
The highlight of the last few days came this afternoon, July 2nd, in the form of a beautiful SABINE'S GULL. The bird was feeding with young bonaparte's gulls and kittiwakes in a tide line off of South wolf island, over what we call the Wolves banks. I managed some distant and ill angled photos for this, my first SABINE'S.
|SABINE'S GULL. Note upperwing pattern. Sabine's gull is about the same size as a bonaparte's gull|
On the non-bird front, we saw our first fin whale today, along with numerous minke whales. One minke was friendly enough to spend 20 minutes with us, curiously inspecting the boat and it's passengers. We also came across a massive basking shark!
That is it for now, we are scheduled for a busy week with three tours each day. I'm going to leave off with a question that maybe some of you could answer; Does anyone know if the puffins seen in the observed area would be birds coming all the way from Machias and then returning with food for chicks? If it were then the birds would be doing a 100km round trip flight to bring back food. Or is it that these birds are non-breeders? At first I thought the former but now with so many in the area it has me wondering. I have no idea how far these birds will travel to find a meal for their chicks.