We are just getting back from an incredible night and day at sea! From land, temps bottomed out at 57F and got up to a high of 79F. We started the morning at ~90 mi offshore off Wilmington canyon and worked our way back in from there. Here’s what I wore to stay comfortable…
parka (yes really! made for a great blanket early in the day)
UPF pullover hoodie
Costa del Mar sunglasses
I wish I would have brought my hooded puff layer. I didn’t use my trucker hat, bucket hat or buff, but always good to have them on board, in addition to wind stopper gloves.
Yes, I’m writing this the day after Earth Day for a reason. I love that beautiful day we take to soak in nature in my favorite season of rebirth and new growth. However, the flip side of the appreciation that comes with being an ecologist these days seems to come with an inevitable degree of compassion fatigue. I didn’t think I’d get here, but I feel like burying my head in the sand. The bad news is overwhelming, and I can’t stomach it anymore. Maybe though, there’s a positive to this: I can’t take hearing about the things I cannot do anything about (or seemingly at least). I immediately click away from the negative environmental stories that once drew me in like clickbait; it all just brings on a feeling of hopelessness, and furthers a feeling of not being able to act meaningfully on it. I feel like I’m protecting my head, and maybe there’s a good side to focusing on the actionable, which has been an overall priority lately in my life.
We had to depart in the vans at 4 AM to get to the lek with enough time to setup the blinds. The blinds had unzipped openings to look through (i.e. the openings were an exposure to the air temp/wind). The morning temp bottomed out at 58 F so relatively warm all things considered, and early in the morning, there was little wind. The wind picked up over the course of the morning, though. Here’s what I wore and was perfectly comfortable…
thin buff (the one I got from CMWWRC)
finger-less/convertible mitten gloves
light nylon base layer
Arctic muck boots
thermal electric socks
In this instance, I could have gotten by without the heated socks, but if it was any colder they probably would have come in handy. I never did turn them on, so maybe you could swap them out for wool socks. I wanted to be prepared for sitting still for a long time with adjustable heat options, while sitting in a spot where too much wiggling was both impractical and potentially disruptive. So, be prepared for chilly conditions when you are camped out not moving!
It appears that the last MD pelagic to have a great skua this month was Mar 1 1992 and there were 2 birds seen then! Notes variably place the records at Elephant’s Trunk and near Baltimore canyon, but all records appear to be during a 12 hr trip. Similarly, there were several birds per trip in the 70s. On Mar 15 1996, there’s a record from a Montauk pelagic, and the Mar 4 1995 notes are one of my favorites:
Life bird. Adult; 63 miles out, at north end of Block Canyon. Most-wanted species by most on this trip. We approached a trawler and started chumming. The bird appeared out of nowhere, circled the chum slick, dove on a few gulls, then began picking up its own fish in the slick. From JA’s notes: The Great Skua was found amongst hundreds of GBBGs, lesser numbers of HERGs, and about 15 NOFUs that were loitering around a commercial trawler. After “stealing” the birds from the trawler, we watched the beast for about one half hour and then finally left it.” Much jubilation ensued.
Today was another great day at sea! Here’s what I wore and what I would add…
Eddie Bauer duffel coat (below the knee 650 down parka)
Faux fur hat with ear flaps and chin strap
Cape May whale watch & research center buff (represent!)
Down knee-length vest
Heaviest smart wool base layer
Outdoor fleece-lined leggings (Avalanche)
Comrad socks (the warmest wool compression socks I’ve found yet; feet were warm all day!)
Arctic muck boots
I was still a tad chilly, so I’ll bring my wool sweater mid layer again next time. Also, my gloves left my hands a little cold, but I’m not sure how much improvement I’ll see there while maintaining dexterity. Might have to switch to an open mitten if I want improvements on both ends…
As I psych myself up for yet another pelagic season in the north Atlantic, I review this month’s “nearby” skua sightings. In 1991, it appears a record for Manasquan inlet, among others, was accepted to genus level. Other encouraging records:
various Feb records 1982 – prior (at the MD pelagic general hot spot): the most enticing details here are the number of birds recorded on trips in the 70’s! On Feb 1 1975 a total of *9* birds are reported 67-111 km E of Ocean City
My mom and I started the new year off right birding around this preserve! However, the trails were not clearly marked nor mowed. On the map, there are more trails through the property, but they weren’t apparent. So, I probably won’t go back unless there are updates about trail management. Later in the afternoon, I walked all the trails around Freedom park.