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#ABArare – European Storm-Petrel, Fea’s Petrel – North Carolina

Now is the time of year where the rarity focus turns towards western Alaska and the Gulf Stream, where late May is peak time for exciting vagrants. Brian Patteson and his Seabirding crew have just started their “Spring Blitz”, two weeks work of consecutive trips to the Gulf Stream out of Hatteras, North Carolina. Early returns have been good, with consecutive trips on May 21 and 22 finding ABA Code 4 European Storm-Petrel and Code 3 Fea’s Petrel respectively.

Photos: EUSP (Derek Rogers/Macaulay Library S37051353), FEPE (Brian Patteson, fide Kate Sutherland/Macaulay Library S37078194)

The Stormy Petrel II, captained by Patteson, is the primary vessel by which birders get offshore in North Carolina. European Storm-Petrel was first recorded in the ABA Area as a photographed bird, east of Cape Hatteras on 27 May 2003. It is still casual, but almost annual off of North Carolina with at least one reported in late May nearly every year since 2007.

European Storm-Petrel is a common storm-petrel of the temperate North Atlantic, breeding on rat-free islands off many coastal European countries, on Mediterranean Islands, and on the Canary Islands.

Fea’s Petrel is one of the uncommon Pterodromas that birders come to North Carolina to see. With a total global population of around 1,000 pairs, it is an infrequent visitor to the Gulf Stream. Most records of the species in the ABA Area occur on trips out of Hatteras in the late spring.

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Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Editor, Social Media Manager at American Birding Association
Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog, social media manager for the ABA, and the host of the American Birding Podcast. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children. He is the author of Birding for the Curious and The ABA Field Guide to Birds of the Carolinas.
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