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Space On Upcoming Winter Pelagic Trips From VA and NC

While some of you have already signed up for pelagic trips in 2001, I
would like to make sure that the rest of you are aware that we are
running trips over the next several weeks from Virginia Beach and
Hatteras. If you have already signed up for one or more of these trips,
please feel free to pass this message along to anyone else whom might be
interested in joining us.  Our trip on Feb. 24(25) from Virginia Beach
is already full, but we still have plenty of space on all four of our
other trips this winter- Jan. 27(28) from Va. Beach, Feb. 3(4) from
Hatteras, Feb. 10(11) from Virginia Beach, and Feb. 17(18) from
Hatteras. All of these trips are Saturday trips with Sunday weather
dates. The fee for each trip is $95 per person. This is slightly more
than last year due to higher fuel prices.

Over the past decade, we have run over thirty pelagic trips from Va.
Beach or Hatteras during January or February and the bird lists from
these trips are archived at our web site- http://www.patteson.com/. Our
winter trips offer one of the best opportunities to see Great Skua in
the western North Atlantic, and during some winters we have seen good
numbers of Dovekies on these trips. Kittiwakes, Razorbills, and Northern
Fulmars are often seen in good supply, and trips from Virginia Beach
have  regularly yielded sightings of puffins.  Both Manx Shearwater and
Red Phalarope are also sometimes seen, particularly on Hatteras trips.
Virginia Beach trips have also found both Common and Thick-billed
Murres. The most remarkable finds on our winter trips, however, have
been albatrosses. On Feb. 6, 1999 we found and photographed an immature
Black-browed Albatross near the Norfolk Canyon off the Virginia Capes,
and 364 days later, we found a Yellow-nosed Albatross just three miles
off Avon, NC on a trip from Hatteras.  Such occurences make one wonder
if such birds might be seen again as we spend so little time at sea
searching for birds during the winter compared to other seasons.

While the Virginia Beach trips are usually a more convenient departure
for most, I highly recommend the Hatteras trips to those having enough
time to drive down here(Hatteras is about three hours from Norfolk and 5
hours from Raleigh). Because both the edge if the continental shelf and
the Gulf Stream are so much closer to Hatteras, we are able to find
seabirds much closer to shore on those trips, which makes them a less
grueling affair than most of the Virginia trips which typically go out
at least 60 miles. The shorter run from Hatteras also means that we are
often able to make trips here when we would have to cancel a trip in
Virginia because of weather. While both of the boats that we use in
winter, the Nancy Anne (Virginia Beach) and the Miss Hatteras, have
heated cabins, we recommend that participants dress very warmly and
bring foul weather gear as looks at the birds are often close but quick.
The Miss Hatteras also has a USCG approved upper deck for more

For those who would like to combine some coastal birding with a pelagic
trip, both Hatteras and Virginia Beach are well situated to suit that
agenda. In Virginia, the nearby Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is a
hotspot for gulls and sea ducks and northern jetty birds like Great
Cormorant and Purple Sandpiper.  While some of this property is closed
to the general public, special access for bird watching can be readily
obtained by contacting the Bridge-Tunnel administration. Hatteras is
just a few miles from Cape Point, which is excellent for a variety of
gulls in winter, and Pea Island NWR, just 40 miles north of Hatteras, is
a great place to see waterfowl and a variety of other birds.

I hope that many of you can join us for some winter birding on the
ocean.  For the uninitiated, it is a very different experience than a
spring or summer trip, and for those of you who have seen most of the
regular winter birds, there is still a chance to see something new. To
find answers to your questions about these trips, please visit our web
site at http://www.patteson.com/, or give me a call at (252) 986-1363.


Brian Patteson
Hatteras, NC