Date – 6:00 AM 8/27/22 (Saturday) to 5:00 PM 8/28/22 (Sunday)

Weather – Variable. Saturday started out cloudy as we headed out over the Nantucket shoals to sunny as we hit the shelf edge. Winds moderate out of the SW creating a small, but turbulent sea which kept things very “bouncy” for much of the trip out to Veatch Canyon. But very comfortable as we rode the winds east over the eastern part of Veatch. The winds died down for a nice overnight on the boat, but they picked up and switched to the northeast on Sunday morning, but then died down by noon on the way back. Several birders were sick going out, but most recovered nicely for the 2nd day.

Boat – 100′ long “Helen H” fishing boat out of Hyannis, MA. Captained by Joe Huckemeyer

Participants – 50 participants plus 7 leaders

Leaders – Naeem Yusuff, Bobbie Hodson, Nick Bonomo, Steve Mirick, Seabird McKeon, Tom Johnson, Doug Gochfeld

Route – We traveled south along the east side of Nantucket and along the western edge of the cool, shallow, waters of the Nantucket Shoals before turning straight for Veatch Canyon which is an underwater canyon along the edge of the continental shelf. Our target was a sharp temperature gradient along the edge of a warm water eddy which was shown on Sea Surface Water Temperature charts. Once we got to the shelf edge, we traveled south through the middle of the warm waters of the underwater canyon before turning east, bisecting the sharp temperature gradient. We worked this sharp north-south gradient line covering shallow to deep water for the remainder of the trip, finishing with chum in 80F water at the 1,000 fathoms (6,000 feet) water depth on Sunday morning. The highest sea surface temperatures were in the range of 80F to 82F in a strong warm-water eddy centered south of us. Our route is shown in the following maps:

Bird Highlights – There were many highlights of the trip for birds, but I think all will agree, the most memorable highlight of the trip was on Saturday afternoon. After traveling south through the hot ocean water of Veatch Canyon, we were having trouble finding any birds. So, we turned east toward a sharp temperature gradient in the ocean just east of the canyon. As we turned east, we had both the sun and the wind at our back as we cruised comfortably at a nice slow speed and the water temperature suddenly dropped from 81F to 74F! Then all of a sudden, a White-faced Storm-Petrel appeared, then a couple, and suddenly, more appeared, and within a short period of time we realized that they were spread out everywhere as far as you could see!! In one of the most surreal events ever witnessed; staggering numbers of White-faced Storm-Petrels were recorded. The total of 589 birds on Saturday far exceeds any daily totals ever recorded in the United States; and most of these came within about 2 hours! Between the hour of 4:00 PM and 5:00 PM alone 425 White-faced Storm-Petrels were counted!!!

Other specialty rare birds of the shelf edge included numerous excellent views of Leach’s Storm-Petrels and Audubon’s Shearwaters and several nice, but (as usual) brief views of shy Band-rumped Storm-Petrels. Several Long-tailed Jaegers gave spectacular views as they hovered right over the top of the boat! Finishing off in the deep water, we made a last minute “hail Mary” attempt at a Black-capped Petrel by chumming in deep warm waters. And succeeded!! On the way out and back we also had good looks at most of the typical inshore pelagic birds including nice, prolonged views and photos of a “Scopoli’s” Shearwater!

Another bird highlight of the trip (at least for some who weren’t asleep!) was the incredibly rare overnight influx of passerines and shorebirds! Attracted by the running lights of the boat and perhaps impacted by patchy evening fog over the canyon, the boat became surrounded by birds after everyone had gone to bed on Saturday night! These birds circled the boat several times and apparently were calling so loudly that birders on the upper deck were woken up by the calls and even birders inside the cabin reported hearing them! By dawn it was over except for a couple of Barn Swallows which had landed on the boat, but soon left. This remarkable event included several species of shorebird and warblers highlighted by a Prothonotary Warbler which was even photographed!!!

Prothonotary Warbler by Jason

Prothonotary Warbler by Jason

Non-bird Highlights – As usual, there were lots of other wildlife to observe offshore, and while the conditions weren’t as spectacular as last year’s trip, we managed several nice sightings including two of the rarest species of “great whales” with views of Sperm Whales and a North Atlantic Right Whale!

Data Recording – Nick Bonomo, Doug Gochfeld, and Tom Johnson shared the laborious job of recording all bird sightings (and additional marine sightings) into eBird with roughly 1-hour intervals. These checklists will be shared, and details are shown in the eBird “Trip Report” link below. Photographers are also encouraged to enter their sightings in iNaturalist. See Mckeon runs an project called “Offshore Wildlife”. Photos can be submitted here:

Trip Report in eBird

Complete Bird List

(total of all birds including those inside of Hyannis harbor broken down into daily totals)

Mallard (2,0)
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (14,0)
Semipalmated Plover (1,0)
Sanderling (19,4)
Least Sandpiper (1,16)
Semipalmated Sandpiper (5,6)
peep sp. (9,15)
Red-necked Phalarope (113,103)
Red Phalarope (0,4)
phalarope sp. (1,0)
Spotted Sandpiper (0,3)
shorebird sp. (4,0)
Parasitic Jaeger (1,1)
Pomarine/Parasitic Jaeger (1,0)
jaeger sp. (2,0)
Laughing Gull (0,1)
Herring Gull (19,12)
Herring Gull (American) (9,25)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (2,10)
Great Black-backed Gull (16,25)
Larus sp. (0,3)
gull sp. (10,0)
Least Tern (4,2)
Black Tern (2,0)
Roseate Tern (4,6)
Common Tern (88,49)
Common Tern (hirundo/tibetana) (1,0)
Sterna sp. (160,12)
tern sp. (0,1)
Common Loon (8,0)
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel (380,151)
Leach’s Storm-Petrel (78,58)
Hydrobates sp. (38,2)
storm-petrel sp. (2,5)
Cory’s Shearwater (31,17)
Cory’s Shearwater (borealis) (12,20)
Great Shearwater (99,35)
Sooty Shearwater (13,6)
Manx Shearwater (9,0)
black-and-white shearwater sp. (1,1)
shearwater sp. (3,1)
Procellariid sp. (1,0)
Northern Gannet (2,4)
Double-crested Cormorant (23,0)
Osprey (carolinensis) (0,1)

Cooper’s Hawk (0,1)

American Crow (0,20)

Barn Swallow (2,2)
Barn Swallow (American) (1,0)

American Redstart (0,1)
Cape May Warbler (0,1)
Yellow Warbler (0,3)

Marine Mammals

Fin Whale – Several
Humpback Whale – Including one individual breaching several times, but from a distance.
SPERM WHALE – 2 at the same time. Mostly blow views, but briefly, one right next to the boat before it dove. We played “whack-a-mole” as we rushed back and forth between these two whales as each dove by the time we arrived!
NORTH ATLANTIC RIGHT WHALE – 1 seen over the Nantucket Shoals as we headed back. Distant views as we maintained our distance as required by law. But excellent study of the V-shaped blows produced by this extremely rare whale and got to see the shape and color of the tail when it fluked. This species is in serious trouble as the worldwide population has been steadily decreasing over the last 10 years and now stands at approximately 336 whales.
Bottlenose Dolphin (offshore) – A few small pods.
Common Dolphin – A few small pods.
Gray Seal – 2. Waiting for a handout at the Helen H slip when we returned to port.


HAMMERHEAD SHARK SP. – At least one cruising back and forth along the side of the boat before dawn on Sunday morning. We photographed Scalloped hammerhead on last year’s trip.
Yellowfin Tuna – Several caught in predawn hours on Sunday! Quite a sudden flurry of activity for fish on Sunday morning. A few reeled in by Nick Bonomo and Jason Lambert! Everyone got to bring home some Ahi!!!

Yellowfin Tuna - Jason by Steve Mirick

Yellowfin Tuna - Jason by Steve Mirick

Yellowfin Tuna by Steve Mirick

Yellowfin Tuna by Steve Mirick

Skipjack Tuna – Lots in predawn feeding frenzy before dawn on Sunday. Several caught.
Flying Fish – A small number of flying fish seen in the deep warm water. One flew out and landed on the boat! Appears to be Atlantic Flyingfish (Cheilopogon melanurus).
GIANT MANTA RAY (Mobula birostris) – A couple of sightings of this

Flying Fish sp. by Dave Larson

Flying Fish sp. by Dave Larson