To give my last post a bit more context, the Black-browed Albatross will be only the fifth formally accepted record of the species for the United States (once the NC records committee gets a chance to vote on it) with 10 or so other unconfirmed reports over the years (source). And it is only the second report of any kind from North Carolina waters with a first being a sight record of two birds seen in the 70s .
Obviously the Black-browed Albatross, for its incredible improbability and stunning beauty, stole the show from what had already been fabulous winter pelagic trip off Hatteras.
The weather was mild and the sea was calm (at least by afternoon). Our first rare bird of the day appeared almost instantly: an Iceland Gull, not 15 minutes out of port in the sound. I had seen a few of these on the pelagic trip I took February last year and got some great photos, so like lack of sunlight and photo opportunity didn't bother me.
Moments later we cruised by a flock of about 60 Brant, a goose species found on salt water that can be elusive within North Carolina (NC bird #302!).
Out on the open ocean we weren't finding the incredible density of alcids that we had last year; one Dovekie skittered away from the boat and I saw small groups of Razorbills here and there. But we found almost all the typical winter pelagic species that I had missed last year including a few Manx Shearwaters (lifer #1546), Great Skuas (lifer #1548), one lone Northern Fulmar (lifer #1549), and several groups of Red Phalaropes.
|Red Phalaropes (lifer #1547!); so cool to see shorebirds at home on the open ocean|
The phalaropes were working along an obvious contrast between warm blue gulf stream water and cold green water.
|more phalaropes with a Bonaparte's Gull; at a distance these two birds can look remarkably similar|
|Loggerhead Sea Turtle|