New Hampshire whale and birdwatching

I visited Jeffreys Ledge on August 16 2009 and recorded 70 Manx Shearwaters, 280 Cory’s Shearwaters, 1960 Sooty Shearwaters, and 4690 Great Shearwaters, and in excess of 1000 Wilson’s Storm-Petrels. Other birds that day included 11 Red-necked Phalaropes, 2 Black-legged Kittiwakes, a Pomarine Jaeger, and 6 Parasitic Jaegers. Granted that was a remarkable year, and so is 2013, though it sits on the very opposite end of the spectrum. A trip yesterday with Becky Suomala, Zeke Cornell, Sue McGrath and friends found 2 Great Shearwaters, one Manx, and ten Wilson’s Storm-Petrels. This is a remarkably graphic example of how dynamic the ocean is. Most ocean life sits underneath the water, hidden from view, but its distribution year to year is demonstrated by the birdlife above the water that it drags around like metal filings to a magnet.

Species August 2009 August 2013
Cory’s Shearwater 280 0
Great Shearwater 4690 2
Sooty Shearwater 1960 0
Manx Shearwater 70 1
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel 1000 10
Red-necked Phalarope 11 0
Black-legged Kittiwake 2 0
Pomarine Jaeger 1 0
Parasitic Jaeger 6 0


If you go this year, prepare for low numbers, though it is still a worthwhile endeavor. Mammals are also in short supply, no doubt for the same reasons as aforementioned. We had only 2 Minke Whales yesterday, and one each of  Gray and  Harbor Seals. I recommend The crew are excellent and they went out of their way to detour to a fishing boat yesterday just to keep the birders happy. The assembled gulls held the only Great Shearwaters of the trip. Most memorable sighting was not a seabird but a Great Blue Heron 20 miles out to sea and heading west. It didn’t look stressed and I feel confident that it made landfall.

Here is a copy of the track, which took us past the Isles of Shoals, over Old Scantum, and along Jeffreys Ledge.

Jeffreys Ledge, August 4 2013

Jeffreys Ledge, August 4 201

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