In search of Band-rumped Storm-Petrels

I  had planned a fishing trip for this past Saturday, but that got cancelled at the last minute. Larry’s friend George Kenyon had been wanting to go out for Band-rumped Storm-Petrel for his ABA list for some time, so when I saw the day was cleared I told Larry we could take him out on my boat. I had seen this species on every June and most July trips on my old boat, but had not seen one this year or last. Larry made 7 June trips last year without one.

I was a little worried as we made our way out, especially since the seas were flat calm. We ran quite a ways out before finding our first Storm-Petrels in 2,000′ of water, but they were the wrong species: Leach’s. Normally this would be the highlight bird for us, since this is the rarest of the 3 species we get here, but today it was not our target. A little farther we found a piece of bamboo with some uncooperative mahi underneath. We put out some chum in hopes of drawing in some birds, and eventually caught sixe mahi while waiting. After a vere long wait without any birds, we started heading back shallower and found a storm-petrel flying fast to the NE. I was sure this was a Band-rumped. We gave chase, but George did not get good looks. Luckily we cam upon a weedline and found 2 Band-rumped Storm-Petrels that landed on the water. We had good looks there, then they started flying and we stayed with them for quite a while. Talk about luck! Finding a small bird in the middle of so much ocean, and then getting great looks on top is a longshot at best most days. We didn’t see a single shearwater, but wiht the calm conditions that didn’t surprise me.

We did have one that got away. As we passed 750′ of water, we were pulling four lines with lures in hopes of tuna. We spotted a white bird flying high and fast to the east. Although the looks were distant as best, it sure looked like a tropicbird. We tried to get the lines in as fact as possible, but by the time we gave chase it was gone. However, I’m pretty sure it was a tropicbird, but which one will forever be a mystery. It goes down as tropicbird sp.

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