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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Paul Guris

January 4, 2008 (Friday)
Pelagic Christmas Count

The annual Hudson Shelf Valley pelagic CBC was run again this year on the last Friday of the count period, January 4, 2008. This is a great introduction to pelagic birding for people as it is only 8 hours long, rather than our normal 12. Conditions as we started were calm, though a forecast of a westerly meant that it would be rougher as we went farther offshore.

Early in the day, we had all of the expected coastal species waterfowl and seabirds including Long-tailed Duck, all 3 scoters, and both loons. As we headed a bit farther offshore, we ran into large flocks of feeding Gannets and gulls, including large numbers of Bonaparte’s Gulls. A flyby Common Black-headed Gull and several Razorbills made an appearance. As we tried to get farther offshore, we found that the winds were blowing a full 10 knots above what the marine forecast told us to expect, so we angled closer to shore.

Late in the day, we birded the coast near Sandy Hook. Although this was outside of the count circle and thus didn’t count on the CBC, we found several good birds including another Common Black-headed Gull that gave everybody fantastic looks. It would settle on the water, we’d get everybody on it, and work our way up to the bird. This scenario played out a half dozen times, to the delight of everybody aboard. The last good bird of the day was a Razorbill sitting on flat seas that allowed us to approach within 10 yards.