Brookline Pelagic, August 2012

A Connecticut contingent of Frank Mantlik, Frank Gallo, Nick Bonomo and myself road-tripped to Hyannis to participate in the Brookline Bird Club’s annual extreme pelagic out of Hyannis. After a few hours sleep we assembled at the dock and were joined by fellow CT birders John Oshlik and Phil Rusch and a boatload, literally, of birders from New England.

From (l) to (r): Julian Hough, Frank Gallo, Phil Rusch, Nick Bonomo and Frank Mantlik.

As with any pelagic, hopes are always high for a mega-rarity and the reality is always more sobering than the fantasy. However, on this trip, expectations were met..and exceeded, in what was regarded as THE best pelagic in Massachusetts history and one of the best trips most birders had been on in the Atlantic!

So, without much further ado, here’s a few photos of mine from the trip. CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGES.

Long-tailed Jaeger – intermediate-type juvenile. Note long central tail feathers, zebra-striped undertail coverts and characteristic 2 pale primary shafts.

Red-necked Phalaropes. Slim build with well-defined wingbar that is slightly narrower than Red Phalarope. Differences hard to notice on fast-moving birds at sea.

Great Shearwater. Lots of great looks!

Scopoli’s Shearwater. Typically smaller and slighter than ‘borealis’ with more white ‘fingers’ evident on the primaries. (Difference is similar to the differences in underwing pattern of Sooty vs. Bridled Tern.) Difficult to determine underwing pattern in the field, with a review of digital images often needed. Some smaller birds seen resting proved to be borealis so size wasn’t often a clincher.

Leach’s Petrel

Band-rumped Petrel

Band-rumped Petrel

White-faced Storm Petrel. Nuff Said.

Steve Howell and leader Marshall Iliff talking minutiae.

26th August – Day 2.

After an overnight anchor at the canyons, dawn and coffee was welcomed. As light was breaking Nick spotted a small shearwater coming in which quickly turned into a stunning, world lifer Barolo Shearwater!!!

Barolo Shearwater. Small size, small bill with white face with dark eye standing out. Blackish above and snow white below with extensive white on the underwings, neatly rimmed with black. Upperparts lacking pale median tips and silvery wash of adults, indicating a juvenile bird. Only the 2nd/3rd record for Mass and the 1oth/11th record for the US.

Nick Bonomo, obviously happy at ticking off Blair Nikula (left)..or maybe the Barolo Shearwater that just nearly flew into the back of the boat!!

Tom Johnson needed a calculator to add up the number of Barolo Shearwaters he’s now seen in the past week! Scoring 4 off his NOAA research cruise off Nova Scotia last week fuelled expectations that this trip might deliver, but nobody thought it would!

Feeling a rush of adrenalin, I decided it was time for me to pay a visit to the bog. I had just got settled, when everyone started shouting and James Smith banged on the door..”Tropicbird, Tropicbiirrrdddd!!!!”. I thought Holy S!!$$$..literally, right now. White-tailed Tropicbird was a nemesis bird for me, so I couldn’t believe it. Busting out onto the back deck, I was confronted with a stunning juv. tropicbird winnowing overhead!

Red-billed Tropicbird- juvenile. A stunning bird. Black inner greater covert pattern identified this as a Red-billed rather than the expected (and hoped-for White-tailed).

Pomarine Jaeger- 1stsummer.

Audubon’s Shearwater. Note long tail, dusky undertail coverts, stout bill, dark lores and extensively dark primary bases.

Manx Shearwater. Torpedo shaped body with long bill, dark earcoverts, Compared to Barolo and Audubon’s it seemed quite brutish.




1 RED-BILLED TROPICBIRD (juvenile over the boat)

1 BRIDLED TERN, on flotsam next to the boat at sunset 8/25

7 WHITE-FACED STORM-PETRELS – excellent views by all

9 BAND-RUMPED STORM-PETRELS – excellent views by all




Black Terns (many)

100+ Red-necked Phalarops

2-3 Red Phalaropes

10+ Hudsonian Godwits migrating

1 Finback Whale

Common Dolphins

Mola mola


2 Loggerhead Sea Turtles

1 Leatherback Sea Turtle

Portuguese Man-o-War

Flying Fish

6 Responses to “Brookline Pelagic, August 2012”

  1. Gina Nichol Says:


    Gina Beebe Nichol Sunrise Birding LLC Worldwide Bird Watching Tours & Wildlife Safaris P.O. Box 274 Cos Cob, CT 06807-0274 USA Office: 1.203.453.6724 Web site:

  2. Gina Nichol Says:

    Amazing trip!

  3. Charlotte Weston Says:

    Nice job guys, I had a wonderful visit there about 25 yrs ago. Love the pictures

  4. RobF Says:

    Sweet! Great shots of great birds!

  5. Wayne K. Forsythe Says:

    Julian, Well done, I’m jealous! Wayne Wayne K. Forsythe 16 Colonial Way Hendersonville, N. C. 28791

  6. Michael Pappone Says:

    As a rookie pelagicker, I was honored to be in the company of this august assemblage!

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