Eleven birders visited Jeffreys Ledge yesterday with Eastmans of Hampton Harbor. We are incredibly lucky to have this facility in New Hampshire, because the nearest alternative option to go offshore in winter is out of Montauk, Rhode Island. This year is the first in a long time that Eastmans has pushed past mid-December, which is when they usually quit (mid-Dec. still makes them the latest operators in NH by several months). My gut tells me they wont try to run straight through to April again next year, but I hope I am wrong.
It’s has been a terrific year for alcids, at least since January. You really never know when the birds are going to be in. I have been out to the ledge in winter about a dozen times in the last ten years, and Feb. 23 was the best day yet, in part because Dovekies are present in big numbers, and Atlantic Puffins, despite recent bad news from breeding colonies in the Gulf of Maine, continue to trend upwards as measured by frequency of sightings. Common Murres are also trending in a positive direction, and finally are worthy of their name, at least offshore. For evidence of the current bonanza, see yesterdays numbers with some numbers from selected winter visits back to 2009:
So if you want to get your fix of Dovekies and Atlantic Puffins, do it before mid-March, when these critters will begin leaving. I will be going out whenever the weather cooperates through the end of March, so feel free to check in with me.