Two years after taking my boys on the ferry from Cape May to Lewes, I finally made good on a promise and booked us on a pelagic birding trip out of Brooklyn. After reading the possibilities, I was so excited for the trip. In the back of my mind though, I worried about one of my three boys getting seasick and having a miserable time. Ok - in all honesty, I was worried about having to tend to a seasick child while missing my pelagic birds! :) I knew if I got sick (a strong possibility), I would at least force myself to bird.
The day had arrived and we made our way to Brooklyn, popping some Dramamine shortly before arriving. It was supposed to be cloudy - bad for photos of moving birds, on a rocking boat. Oh well - I'd do what I could and just enjoy the day and the birds.
On the way out of the harbor we had multiple gulls, a Common Eider, Purple Sandpiper, Common Loon, and a bunch of Long-tailed Ducks. At the end of the jetty, we had two Great Cormorants see us off...
As we left the harbor, Coney Island was in view... Nobody had chucked.
The boat had someone on constant chum-duty to keep the gulls at the back of the boat and hopefully attract the more desired species. The gull-and-gannet show really is enough for me to make the trip. I'm going to go ahead and just post a ton of their photos now. I'll do my best not to post dozens, but they really are photogenic and provide some great captures.
Like I said, gannets are thrilling and worth the price of admission. I, however, did have high hopes for some lifers for both me and the boys. We were rewarded a few hours into the trip with the boys' first alcid of their life... a razorbill. They ended up seeing at least three, even if from a distance... a lifer for them!
...people were chucking, we were surviving.
Razorbills are a privilege, but I needed some lifers! I have a goal of hitting 400 ABA birds this year, and I'm hoping a pelagic or two can help me get there. Lifer #1 would be delivered in short order. To make it even better, we'd see a bunch of individuals repeatedly as they followed us for a long time. Black-legged Kittiwake!
I should also mention that we saw all three scoter species in numbers, but I didn't get any amazing shots. Here's some old photos, for those who don't know what I'm talking about.
...more people chucking. We are still surviving, although the kids are feeling "weird." Hopefully, its just the Dramamine.
One of the lifers I had counted on was a Common Murre. Everyone seemed pretty confident that we would find a number of them. So that of course, meant we'd only see one. Either way it was a lifer! I spent too much time studying it and differentiating it from a Razorbill for personal reasons. I trusted it would sit on the water, but it didn't and took off on me. Sadly, I only have this blurry ass shot to provide.
The kids were falling asleep. A few more people puked. I don't know how normal it is. They seemed to be having a good time either way. I watched one poor guy chuck gut, but five minutes later, he was taking photos of a kittiwake with a big smile on his face. Regardless, I felt fine and the kids were still safe. Thank you DRAMAMINE.
I had two birds I wanted to see more than anything, but really didn't think I would. It turns out, you need to get pretty far offshore to have a decent shot. This trip was an 8-hour excursion I decided on because if you haven't noticed already, I was nervous about seasickness. The Atlantic Puffin never made an appearance, but get this... we ended up seeing MULTIPLE Northern Fulmars! I was literally ecstatic, elated, etc.!
It turns out, according to Paul - the leader, that this was the closest to shore he has ever seen them in the mid-Atlantic by 30+ miles!
We made our way toward land, seeing tons of scoters and some Common Goldeneyes as we got closer to shore. ...WE NEVER CHUCKED! The boys logged four lifers; me - three. This took my ABA total to 372. I got to meet and hang out with a few great people. The kids had a blast - not the kind of blast you have jumping in a ball pit, but the kind where you add a whole new day-long experience to your life and increase your wisdom. It was a great trip, and I can't wait to do it again!