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Hello birders -

On Saturday we made made a trip to the Gulf Stream approx 40 miles east of
Ponce Inlet.  There was not a good edge or weedline to work, and fish were
scattered, and no birds anywhere.  At about noon we had trolled east into
the stream in 220' of water, in an area known as the Steeples, deep water
peaks that create upwellings at the surface.  In this area there were many
flying fish, mostly small 3-4" "grasshoppers".  Here we caught our best
dolphin (mahi-mahi) of the day (about 30 lbs) but the real treat was an
adult RED-BILLED TROPICBIRD, a new state bird for me.

I have seen White-tailed Tropicbirds fairly regularly in the Gulf Stream,
and this bird appeared larger, heavier and more deliberate in its flight
than the rapid wingbeats and direct, straight-line flight of the
White-tailed.  It had adult plumage but no tail streamers.  The black
primary markings and the gray striation on the back were clearly visible,
and we watched the bird feed for probably 10 minutes as it tracked near the
boat.

The only other birds seen all day were 2 Bridled Terns.  Though fishing was
good with consistent action most of the day, it was surprising we saw no
other terns, storm petrels or shearwaters.

Bob Wallace
Alachua


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