What a difference a bit of wind can make in pelagic birding. My late June trip on Brian Patteson’s Stormy-petrel II from the outer banks of North Carolina coincided with calm conditions and flat seas – and not surprisingly, a disappointing yield of seabird diversity. ‘Birds gotta fly!’, and reasonable winds, swell, and wave structure will typically be characterised by the graceful presence of acrobatic petrels and shearwaters, and other tube-noses.
Prior to booking my Hatteras trip, I’d deliberated long and hard about taking a July or August New York to Florida cruise for a crack at some of the Gulf Stream specialist birds I’d missed in my June, and May excursions out of Hatteras – just to try something different. But constraints of time and resources gave way to the the successful track record of the traditional Hatteras methodology when the weather forecasts for Brian’s 26 and 27 July trips indicated likely windy conditions. Of course I was hoping for conditions that would be windy enough and rough enough to to make for good bird soaring conditions, but not so rough as to jeopardise the viability of the mission. I got what I’d hoped for during both days – and the results were stunning.