Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Job: Ian Surveys Birds on a Whale Watching Boat.

Ian posts his nearly daily bird information on the list serve he started at Plymouth Birds.
The major MA site for all bird sightings is

Here's what he posted about his new intern job this summer.
This summer I am working for NECWA (New England Coastal Wildlife 
Alliance), in partnership with Captain John Boats and Bridgewater 
State College, doing pelagic bird surveys of Stellwagen Bank based off 
of the Captain John Boat whalewatches from Plymouth. Today was the 
third time that I've been out, and by far the birdiest of the three.
Almost all of the activity was right off of Race Point, most of it 
probably scope-able on a day with good visibility. The highlight of 
the day was pulling three Cory's Shearwaters out of all the Greaters, 
with one bird on the water with a flock of 24 Greaters, and the two 
others in the water and then flying in the mayhem of ~2000 
shearwaters. This morning most of the trip had been pretty slow on the 
way out, and as we headed for the Race, bypassing the SW corner of 
Stellwagen, that decision really made the day. We had 30-40 humpbacks 
feeding actively, including almost every surface behavior: lobtailing, 
kick feeding, bubble cloud and bubble net feeding, tail and full head 
breaches, open mouth feeding, you name it! Besides the wonderful 
cetacean show there were around two thousand shearwaters in the area, 
a number that I came to after averaging multiple counts, counted by 
20s. Also around were tons of storm-petrels, and a few jaegers, making 
this about as good as it gets. Manx Shearwaters were conspicuously 
absent, as they were on Wednesday. Another interesting thing about 
today was the number of tubenoses in Plymouth County on the way back, 
far more than the other couple times, and more than any other trip 
I've taken out of Plymouth Harbor, including storm-petrels and Sooty 
Shearwaters easily visible from Duxbury Beach!
Full lists from today are at the Plymouth Birds web site above, and pictures, including Cory's, can 

Photos of birds and whale are by Ian.
Greater Shearwater.

Greater Shearwater. Wingtip is JUST touching the water.

Breaching Humpback whale.

The boat Ian goes on to do his bird surveys.

The main dock where I drop off and pick up Ian.

View of Plymouth harbor and docks.

The ticket booth for Captain John Boat whale watching tours. Ian says a secret word that gets him a free ticket:-)

When I'm waiting to pick him up I hang out with my camera ready. This is a popular spot for motorcycles.

Ian after a hard day's work.

I just shot this because of the joy in it, turns out it's one of the boat captains and a crew member.

Greater Shearwater landing.

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