Rarities on high seas of Hatteras 26-27 July

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.

Sunrise as we motor out towards the continental shelf and the bio-active Gulf Stream. Its a big day on the summer Hatteras birding trips, with groups of up to 20 boarding the Stormy-petrel II at 5:30AM, and retuning 11 hours later.


The lovely Kate Sutherland, chief organiser and bird-finder of the famous Hatteras pelagic birding tradition. Kate recently finished a Marine Biology degree – congratulations!


Wilson’s Storm-petrel – just look at those water dancin’ legs!


Cory’s Shearwater


Great Shearwater


Band-rumped Storm-petrel


WOW! White-faced Storm-petrel!!! We saw three during our two days at sea.


The mega of all Hatteras megas – the big Kahuna: Bermuda Petrel. Epic!


His lordship, the Bermuda Petrel. And I’m still goose-bumping.


Birding legend Ned Brinkley in his element – finding freak-show rarities, and sharing all manner of information on any subject to any level of detail you wish to explore. What a guy!


With Captain Brian ‘Gulf Stream’ Patteson helping me celebrate a big year milestone. Brian’s Gulf Stream birding missions – Winter, Spring and Summer, are must -do exercises for anyone hoping to see Atlantic seabirds, and are almost always action-packed events. 


Her mighty majesty, Stormy Petrel II – owned and operated by the Gulf Stream Messiah, Brian Patteson, and providing an awesome opportunity for birders and fishermen throughout the year. Google Brian’s name and ‘pelagic birding’ and share in the excitement of the best Atlantic coast birding readily available.