#ABArare - Little (Barolo) Shearwater & White-faced Storm-Petrel - Massachusetts
Last weekend was certainly a good one for pelagics. Besides Maryland's "best pelagic ever", Massachusetts also came up with a candidate for its best pelagic ever, and possibly the best ever for all of New England, as well. The Brookline Bird Club's late summer pelagic trip has been making a strong case for being the best opportunity to see White-faced Storm-Petrel (Code 3) in the ABA Area the past several years (22 were seen on this trip in 2010). In 2007, a Little Shearwater (Code 5) was found as well, and with four seen off of Nova Scotia by Tom Johnson during a NOAA research cruise a week earlier, I imagine at least a few participants had high hopes for encountering one on this trip. (Some authorities have split Little Shearwater, with the taxon encountered in the ABA Area taking the common name Barolo Shearwater.)
Even with this track record of success, I would bet everyone's expectations were exceeded. The trip ran Aug 25-26. On the first day, several White-faced Storm-Petrels were found. (There were about eight for the entire trip.)
Then the next morning, a Little Shearwater was spotted over the chum slick. It disappeared, but then 90 minutes later it or another one returned to the slick.
But wait! There's more! Between the two Little Shearwater sightings, an immature Red-billed Tropicbird (Code 3) made several passes over the boat.
The trip ended up seeing all the shearwaters (six species; and one or two "Scopoli's" Cory's Shearwaters were seen among the more common borealis Cory's Shearwaters, so arguably seven species) and storm-petrels (four species) on the Massachusetts state checklist. Also seen were Long-tailed Jaeger and Bridled Tern, among others.
For several first-hand accounts, check out Rob Fergus's post at Birding Is Fun! [Warning to those who are especially prone to seasickness: there's a lot of pitching and rolling in this one.] and Nick Bonomo's post at Shorebirder.