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Earlier in the week, while mulling over whether to bird Loop Road or the sod
farms on Saturday, serendipitously, my brother-in-law Buddy took the
laborious decision-making process right of my hands by inviting me to go
dolphin fishing out in the Gulfstream. Departing from Keystone Point in
North Miami along Biscayne Bay, I knew the fishing was going to be good,
when while offloading our coolers, bait and tackle, a Spot-breasted Oriole
sang overhead on a power-line.

By dragging me along, knowing that I would actively be looking for pelagic
bird species, we spotted our first Bridled Terns about 10 miles offshore,
feeding on a weed-line in about 800 feet of water. After picking up 10
schoolies we trolled out to 18 miles and 1200 feet of water. Everywhere we
found Bridled Terns we found dolphin. I pulled in a nice 18-pounder feeding
on a school of skipjack. We knew there might be bigger dolphin here as the
terns were flying high above the water, indicating schools of  bait fish or
tuna. While soaring above us, I noticed the terns have prominent translucent
windows in their wings. After putting out the chumbag with Menhaden, we
hooked several bluefish in the area as well. A Brown Noddy joined the hunt
for fish and soon I noticed a small shearwater/storm-petrel species coming
in to share in the bounty. I immediately thought it was an Audubon’s
Shearwater, as it glided shearwaterlike, wings held in a horizontal plane. I
then spotted a white rump and knew it was a storm-petrel. As it got closer I
looked at the feet to see if they dangled past the tail. They did not. The
bird was very dark-backed and hunted quite differently from the many
Wilson’s Storm-Petrels I have seen. The glide pattern had Band-rumped
Storm-Petrel written  all over it.  Statebird number 401. Needless to say,
with a plethora of celebratory libations on board, we toasted to my lifebird
and to our limit of dolphin. Life is good…………….having fresh dolphin sashimi
for breakfast this morning. Wasabi!!!!!

P.S. I have great respect for Bob Wallace and the north Florida saltwater
fishermen that go out a 100 miles in search of gamefish and pelagic birds.

Paul Bithorn
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Virginia Gardens, Florida
Miami-Dade County

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