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Despite lousy weather, we made it to the Gulf Stream 40 miles off Ponce Inlet on Sunday, 7 Oct.  Seas were 4-6', winds NW 15+ and shifting to north, overcast skies, and less than optimum conditions.  Species diversity was minimal, only 2 kinds of shearwaters and no petrels or terns, skuas, etc.  However, there were literally hundreds on Cory's Shearwaters from just inside the edge at 180' out to 400', as deep as we went.  There were always several in view at any time, more than I have ever seen before in one day.  In one flock of 20 sitting on the water, there was an Audubon's/Manx spp, but due to the conditions I could not determine which.  We caught (and released) a sailfish right by the flock of Cory's; they were over a school of bait.  There was also a lot of variation in coloration of the Cory's; some were very pale (worn?), and some very dark colored (appearing at first dark like a Sooty, but with all of the white underneath).  Some of the color variation might be attributed to lighting and view, but some was observed in the sitting flock.  Interestingly there were no Greater Shearwaters among them anywhere.

It may be worth a trip to bird the "disappearing island/party bar" across from the Coast Guard Station just inside Ponce Inlet.  Because of being in a 40' boat, I could not get up close to sort everything out, but there were thousands of gulls and terns roosting on the bar late on Sunday afternoon.  All of the regular species, including ad and imm Greater and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Boneparte's Gulls, Caspian Terns, etc.  Who knows if there is something like a Kittiwake or an Arctic Tern mixed in?  For those interested, it will probably take a small boat for the best view, that draws little water and can be pulled out onto the bar.  You can launch from the Lighthouse ramp on the Daytona side, or maybe put a canoe in from the Dunes Park on the New Smyrna side.  With a good scope you might be able to get some views from the western beach of the Dunes park, but a boat would be best.

Bob Wallace
Alachua

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