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Pelagic Bird Watching From Gloucester, MA

Pelagic bird watching from gloucester.

7 Seas is proud of its reputation as being “the birder’s whale watch” in Gloucester.

While the whales are, of course, the main focus of our trips, many of our crew are also avid bird watchers and are always aware of any birds in the area. We make a special point to make sure that any birders on board don’t miss any rare (or common!) species that we encounter.

To learn more about the pelagic bird species we see on our while whale watching just select from the menu to the left to access all the various bird information pages contained within our site. All of the contents of these pages were written by 7 Seas Whale Watch naturalist (and birder!) S. Jay Frontierro.

Above photo: Beautiful pelagic birds that are seen in Spring and Fall in New England waters. Red-necked (formerly “Northern”) Phalaropes are by far the most common. Red Phalaropes are rare but always possible to see. Both species are shown in the photograph above (I’m sure you can figure out which species is which!) 

For birders who may be visiting from out of state (or country) and are hoping to do some bird watching around the Cape Ann/North Shore area, a couple of great resources to help guide you to some of the “birdiest” places in Massachusetts are:

Sue McGrath’s  NEWBURYPORT BIRDERS

Tom Wetmore’s  PLUM ISLAND BIRDS

And for the most recent bird sightings in all of Massachusetts you can also check-out the  MASSACHUSETTS BIRDING LIST .

Good luck and good birding!

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Welcome to WESTPORTSEABIRDS.COM!

 The entire Westport Seabirds crew had such a great time with our valued customers during our 2023 season. Thanks to all our for making this our 47th year such a memorable one!

Our 2024 schedule is now available – see 2024 schedule tab

 We  hope you will join us for one of our all day pelagic birdwatching trips to one of several deep water submarine canyons that are 30 nautical miles from the mouth of Grays Harbor, on the edge of the North American continental shelf. The outer half of the shelf and the Canyons support a vast array of marine life. In addition to regular species like Black-footed Albatross and Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, our trips feature seasonal species such as Laysan Albatross, Flesh-footed, Short-tailed, and Buller’s Shearwaters, and South Polar Skua among many other offshore species. We are also looking for whales, dolphins, porpoises, fur seals and other marine life that populate this nutrient rich environment. 

About Westport Seabirds

Photograph, Monte Carlo Terry Wahl initiated trips offshore to Gray's Canyon in September of 1966 and began systematic censusing in September of 1971, which continues through the present. Westport Seabirds trips have produced the longest running database of birds counted at sea in the world and have provided the foundation for several papers on seabirds of the northeast Pacific, including m...

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Image gallery, 2024 schedule now available.

All of our trips go offshore to one of three deep water canyons approximately 28-35 miles offshore. These canyons are just beyond the edge of the continental shelf and reach water depths in excess of 2,500 feet.

Read more...

Possible Species

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Birding Hotspots

Massachusetts pelagic birding.

pelagic birding trips massachusetts

Nantucket, Massachusetts, US

Tuckernuck Island (restricted access)

296 species

From The Water

Muskeget Island

196 species

As observed from kayak

Plymouth, Massachusetts, US

Kingston Bay

148 species

pelagic birding trips massachusetts

Barnstable, Massachusetts, US

Pleasant Bay (Outer Cape Cod)

141 species

pelagic birding trips massachusetts

Dukes, Massachusetts, US

Nomans Land Island NWR (restricted access)

140 species

Essex, Massachusetts, US

Stellwagen Bank--NW Corner

128 species

pelagic birding trips massachusetts

Pasque Island

118 species

East of Chatham

pelagic birding trips massachusetts

Stellwagen Bank NMS

Stellwagen bank--sw corner.

111 species

Stellwagen Bank--Race Point Waters

107 species

Nantucket Sound

104 species

About this Location

There are several different birding boat tours, whale watches, and pelagic trips that leave from Massachuestts ports. For pelagic trips, familiarize yourself with  eBird's pelagic protocol and use the appropriate personal locations or eBird hotspots

The eBird pelagic protocol applies to checklists that are made farther than two miles offshore on oceans, seas, or large lakes. Choose the Pelagic Protocol option from the ‘Other’ menu of Observation Types. Please note that we still have much to learn about seabird distribution, so we encourage you to  add photos and notes to document your sightings on your checklists! 

If you’re moving: Count for up to 60 minutes on each checklist; stopping at the 1-hour mark. Record the distance traveled (ideally with  eBird Mobile Tracks ), adjust the distance estimate for backtracking as you would a traveling checklist , and choose a location on the map for where you started that checklist period. Repeat this process throughout the trip until you return to within two miles of shore.

If you’re anchored: Keep a checklist for as long as you’re anchored, and then follow the above instructions once you start to move again.

Last updated March 27, 2024

></center></p><p>« All Events</p><ul><li>This event has passed.</li></ul><h2>Seabirds and Pelagic Birding Boat Trip in Cape Ann, MA</h2><p>March 18, 2022 @ 10:00 am - march 20, 2022 @ 3:00 pm.</p><p><center><img style=

Seabirds and Pelagic Birding Boat Trip in Cape Ann, MA March 18  (10 am) to March 20 (3 pm) [Rescheduled date] $550 ($125 single supplement) 7 participants maximum Program will be cancelled in the event of forecasted severe weather or high winds at sea Contact us to register

Cape Ann, Massachusetts, is a worldwide destination for winter birds and birders. This annual winter adventure is an outstanding opportunity to spend quality time with species rarely, if ever, seen inland. This trip is not only about discovering rare species by land and sea, but about watching, enjoying, and studying seabirds among a community of like-minded nature lovers under the leadership of a first-class guide and educator.

We’ll depart NBNC on Friday morning to head down to Gloucester, MA to search for coastal rarities such as Iceland and Glaucous Gulls, King Eiders, Northern Gannets, Harlequin Ducks, and more. On Saturday, we’ll head out on a pelagic boat trip to one of New England’s most productive marine habitats, the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. With expert pelagic guides, we’ll search for hard-to-find offshore regulars like Razorbills, Dovekies, Common and Thick-billed Murres, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Atlantic Puffins, Dovekies, Scoters, and Skuas.

Our search then continues from land on Sunday as we explore nearby hotspots such as Salisbury Beach or Plum Island for species like Snowy Owls, Rough-legged Hawks, and Purple Sandpipers. We arrive back in Montpelier on Sunday afternoon.

Led by birder and NBNC Director of Natural History Programs, Sean Beckett .

Includes: 2 nights lodging, all transportation, pelagic boat fees, shared spotting scopes, and expert bird guide. Cancellation Policy: NBNC will not be able to guarantee refunds within two weeks of this program, unless severe winter weather requires us to cancel this program. COVID-19 expectations:  Participants must be fully vaccinated to attend. Masks will be required indoors and inside the van. Participants should expect indoor meals in restaurants in the Gloucester area.

Contact Us to Register

2018 and 2019 cape ann pelagic seabirding highlights and species list.

pelagic birding trips massachusetts

Photos by Sean Beckett

Species List from Previous Cape Ann Trips

Canada Goose

American Black Duck

Green-winged Teal

Ring-necked Duck

Greater Scaup

Common Eider

Harlequin Duck

Surf Scoter

White-winged Scoter

Black Scoter

Long-tailed Duck

Common Goldeneye

Red-breasted Merganser

Wild Turkey

Common Loon

Red-throated Loon

Horned Grebe

Red-necked Grebe

Great Cormorant

Red-tailed Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Purple Sandpiper

Common Murre

Thick-billed Murre

Black Guillemot

Black-legged Kittiwake

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Iceland Gull

Glaucous Gull

Great Black-backed Gull

Northern Gannet

Rock Pigeon

Mourning Dove

Downy Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

American Crow

Common Raven

Black-capped Chickadee

Tufted Titmouse

White-breasted Nuthatch

American Robin

European Starling

Carolina Wren

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Song Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Northern Cardinal

Red-winged Blackbird

Common Grackle

House Finch

House Sparrow

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Cap’n Fish’s Cruises

Special Pelagic Bird Cruise

With Expert Bird Guide Derek!

Quick Details

  • Hour Glass Duration: Approx. 4.5 hours

Calling all Birders!

Join us on these special cruises dedicated to off-shore birding: a collaboration with Freeport Wild Bird Supply offering half-day “mini-pelagics!” We’ll seek out the rare and common seabirds that occur in our nearshore waters, but we will always have the hope to expect the unexpected. Derek will team up with our expert naturalists to spot, identify, and point out pelagic seabirds. Chumming efforts will provide opportunities to attract the birds in for better photo ops and viewing! While we’ll stop to look at any whales and whatever other interesting sea life we encounter along the way, it is the feathered wildlife we’re searching for, and will be focused on.

June 2, 2023 8:00am Click here to Book this Date! This year’s edition of our early season “mini-pelagic” will be sponsored by Zeiss Sport Optics and tickets must be purchased through the external link provided. The trip will be lead and narrated by Derek, but this one-of-a-kind outing will also feature special guests, including Rich Moncrief, Nature and Observation Manager for Zeiss. Rich will be bringing a wide range of Zeiss products for everyone to try out, and offering a special discount if you just can’t put them down. You can read about more details on the booking link! Derek’s Trip Report June 2021 Derek’s Trip Report June 2022

July 10, 2023 1:30pm Click here to Book this Date!  In the heat of summer, Derek will be onboard for this special Whale Watch & Birding Buffs Combo Cruise. The itinerary will include a visit to Eastern Egg Rock as well as whale feeding grounds. Nesting colonies and pelagic sightings will be highlighted. Around EER at this time we can expect to find Atlantic Puffins, Common Terns, Arctic Terns, Roseate Terns, Laughing Gulls, Double-Crested Cormorants, Common Eiders, Black Guillemots, with a chance of Razorbill and Common Murre. Off-shore sightings will likely include Northern Gannets, up to 4 species of Shearwaters (Great, Sooty, Cory’s, and Manx), and Wilson’s Storm Petrels. Sorry, no chumming this time. Derek’s Trip Report July 2021 Derek’s Trip Report July 2022

October 16, 2023 9:00am Click here to Book this Date! This fall excursion gives a chance at some very sought after pelagic species, such as Great Skua. More likely species include Northern Fulmar; Black-legged Kittiwake; Pomarine and Parasitic Jaeger; Shearwaters – Great, Sooty, Cory’s, and possibly even Manx; Razorbill and Atlantic Puffin; Red and Red-necked Phalaropes, and much more. Other possible, if unlikely, species at this date include South Polar Skua, and maybe even an early Dovekie. Derek’s Trip Report October 2020 Derek’s Trip Report October 2021 Derek’s Trip Report October 2022

Good To Know

We’ll leave the dock promptly at departure time for a 4-5 hour trip. Snacks and beverages are available for purchase, but you are welcome to pack your own food and water. Be prepared for light rain or showers, and bring plenty of layers for staying comfortable outside. Likewise, with any boat trip, weather cancellations for wind or waves (especially in fall) are always possible.

Derek Lovitch, of Freeport Wild Bird Supply , guides extensively in Maine, and has led tours throughout North America from Alaska’s Pribilof Islands to Hawaii. His second book, – Birdwatching in Maine: A Site Guide – describes 201 birding sites in Maine including Cap’n Fish’s Cruises!

Related Cruises

  • Hour Glass 2.5 hours

AUDUBON PUFFIN & SCENIC CRUISE

See how the National Audubon Society has reestablished a puffin colony on Eastern Egg Rock, as well as lighthouses and other points of interest.

  • Hour Glass Approx. 3.5 hours

BOOTHBAY HARBOR WHALE WATCHING CRUISE

See whales, dolphins, sharks, seals, and more at Maine’s prime whale feeding grounds and enjoy a tour of the Boothbay Harbor region!

  • Hour Glass Approx. 4+ hours

WHALE WATCH & PUFFIN COMBO CRUISE

Spend an afternoon packed with the wonders of nature on this incredible tour. See puffins at Eastern Egg Rock and whales at the feeding grounds.

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Cape Cod - pelagic trips & advice

  • Thread starter Eos9
  • Start date Jul 31, 2015

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Well-known member.

  • Jul 31, 2015

I am currently looking into planning a trip to Massachusetts / Cape Cod from mid to late Sept and would appreciate any advice to where to base myself and any short (i.e. 4-6 hr) pelagic trips that may be available to book at this time. I intend to take 2 or 3 Whale watching trips during my stay and although I expect to see various seabirds on these trips I would be grateful to hear about any trips specifically aimed at birds that may be available. I am open to advice on where to base myself during this time but am leaning towards a two stop itinerary such as Plymouth followed by a few days on Cape Cod although I'm completely open to suggestions. I've never visited Cape Cod itself so any advice on where to base myself to go on trips and visit the best birding areas would be of great help. I am more interested in bird & wildlife photography than counting species seen etc so area's or sites that allow good opportunities for photography would be of greatest interest. Many Thanks  

Member since 2007

It has been a few years since I was there, but since no one else has responded I'll tell you what I remember. First, whale watching trips are probably your best bet for short pelagics. Trips dedicated to pelagic birds generally head fairly far offshore, so they take longer. The Brookline Bird Club offers the best trips. They have one in late September, but it is an overnight trip, so probably not to your liking. Second, there is a significant potential for traffic bottlenecks getting on and off the Cape, especially on the weekends. So I would stay on the Cape for those days you are going to be visiting there. Also, you might consider hiring a boat to transport you to Monomoy Island, a National Wildlife Refuge. This is on the lower cape IIRC and is basically a long sandbar where you can walk for several hours watching the many shore and seabirds that roost/nest/feed on the island.  

  • Aug 3, 2015
Jim M. said: It has been a few years since I was there, but since no one else has responded I'll tell you what I remember. First, whale watching trips are probably your best bet for short pelagics. Trips dedicated to pelagic birds generally head fairly far offshore, so they take longer. The Brookline Bird Club offers the best trips. They have one in late September, but it is an overnight trip, so probably not to your liking. Second, there is a significant potential for traffic bottlenecks getting on and off the Cape, especially on the weekends. So I would stay on the Cape for those days you are going to be visiting there. Also, you might consider hiring a boat to transport you to Monomoy Island, a National Wildlife Refuge. This is on the lower cape IIRC and is basically a long sandbar where you can walk for several hours watching the many shore and seabirds that roost/nest/feed on the island. Click to expand...
  • Aug 5, 2015

A local birder organizes short pelagics from Chatham - but not to a fixed schedule - details here http://capecodbirds.org/chatham-pelagics/ I think he posts details of upcoming trips on MASSBIRD, but on short notice. Whale watching trips run from Barnstable Harbour (Hyannis Whale Watcher - note that they do NOT run from Hyannis) and Provincetown (Dolphin Fleet). Depending on when you will be there the Cape Cod Bird Festival is on 18-20 Sept http://www.capecodbirdclub.org/bird-festival/cape-cod-bird-festival/ and has a variety of organized trips, including Monomoy and a longer pelagic. These festivals and organized field trips aren't everyone's cup of tea but it would be a good way to see some local areas guided by top local birders. Chatham is a pretty town handy for most of the Cape and would make a good base, particularly for Monomoy but also Mass Audubon sites at Wellfleet and Long Pasture and not too bad for the Beech Forest at Provincetown which is a migration hotspot (although I think better in Spring). If you went to the Festival you might as well stay in Hyannis those days.  

  • Aug 6, 2015
Eos9 said: Thanks for the information Jim much appreciated. I will certainly look into visiting Monomoy island as you suggest and have just ordered the 'Birds of Cape Cod' which will also hopefully prove useful regarding best places to visit etc. Click to expand...
  • I understand this is an old thread, but want to reply anyway

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Cape Cod Birds

 chatham mini-pelagics.

Close encounters of the pelagic kind aboard the “Kittiwake”

We are sad to report that the Chatham Mini-Pelagics have ended. Captain Kenny Eldredge has retired and put the “Kittiwake” up for sale. It was a great run and we thank everyone who participated – you contributed to our growing knowledge of the distribution and abundance of seabirds off of Chatham. Perhaps at some point in the future another option for pelagic trips will develop, but none is available presently. Thanks again and good birding!

Are you tired of seeing seabirds only as distant specks at the horizon, or fighting for elbow room at the railing of a crowded 100-foot whale-watching boat? Does your stomach rebel at the thought of a three-foot swell? Have you never done a pelagic trip before because you’re unsure how you may fare on an 8-10 hour trip? Then a “mini” pelagic trip off Chatham may be just what the pelagic doctor ordered! Why?

  • We only go when the weather is good — no need to worry about a rough ride. Your comfort and enjoyment are the top priorities.
  • We take a maximum of just 6 people, so there’s plenty of room for everyone.
  • We chum with fresh fish guts, bringing the birds into point blank range — on some trips the birds are literally close enough to touch! The photo-ops are unsurpassed!
  • No depost required and no payment until we’re safe and sound back at the dock. We trust you — if you sign up we trust you will show up!

The trips are run on an irregular basis from June — October. There is no schedule. We go on short notice (usually 3-4 days), when the Captain has an opening in his charter fishing schedule, when the weather looks favorable, and when we can round up at least five participants. If you’re interested in a trip, get in touch through the contact form below and let us know a general time frame. We’ll add you to our contact list and let you know when a trip is scheduled. If you have a group of 5-6 people and would like to schedule a trip, let us know.

Jaegers are seen on most trips, with Parasitic being by far the most numerous, peaking from late August into October, when they frequently put on spectacular aerial displays chasing terns and small gulls.  We also see Long-tailed and Pomarine jaegers on occasion, and have found South Polar Skuas twice, though they are quite rare in these relatively inshore waters.

A few non-breeding Common Loons are usually present during the summer and by September southbound migrants become numerous. And later in the fall strings of migrating scoters and eider can be a feature.

A photo gallery of images from past trips is here . And a spreadsheet (pdf format) of the trip lists from the 2011 – 2014 seasons can be downloaded here .

These trips are organized and lead by Blair Nikula , a native Cape Codder with over four decades of seabirding experience. He has no financial interest in these trips; his only interest is in getting offshore to see (and photograph) some birds!

Peter Flood, another local birder with over two decades of seabirding experience, also occasionally leads or otherwise assists on these trips, as does Peter Trull, a veteran of over 2,000 whale watch trips!

This site is sponsored by the Birdwatcher's General Store

pelagic birding trips massachusetts

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  • Hylocitreidae – Yellow-flanked Whistler
  • Hypocoliidae – Hypocolius
  • Icteridae – Oropendolas, Orioles, Blackbirds & Allies
  • Ifritidae – Blue-capped Ifrit
  • Incertae Sedis – Uncertain Families
  • Irenidae – Fairy-bluebirds
  • Laniidae – Shrikes
  • Leiothrichidae – Turdoides Babblers, Laughingthrushes, Barwings & Sibias
  • Locustellidae – Grassbirds & Allies
  • Machaerirhynchidae – Boatbills
  • Macrosphenidae – Crombecs, Longbills & African Warblers
  • Malaconotidae – Bushshrikes, Tchagras, Puffbacks & Boubous
  • Maluridae – Australasian Wrens
  • Melampittidae – Melampittas
  • Melanocharitidae – Berrypeckers & Longbills
  • Melanopareiidae – Crescent-chests
  • Meliphagidae – Honeyeaters
  • Menuridae – Lyrebirds
  • Mimidae – Mockingbirds, Thrashers & Allies
  • Mohoidae – O’os
  • Mohouidae – Whitehead, Yellowhead & Brown Creeper
  • Monarchidae – Monarchs, Paradise Flycatchers & Allies
  • Motacillidae – Longclaws, Pipits & Wagtails
  • Muscicapidae – Old World Flycatchers
  • Nectariniidae – Sunbirds & Spiderhunters
  • Neosittidae – Sitellas
  • Nicatoridae – Nicators
  • Notiomystidae – Stitchbird
  • Oreoicidae – Australasian Bellbirds
  • Oriolidae – Old World Orioles, Pitohuis & Figbirds
  • Orthonychidae – Logrunners & Chowchilla
  • Pachycephalidae – Whistlers & Allies
  • Panuridae – Bearded Reedling
  • Paradisaeidae – Birds-of-paradise
  • Paramythiidae – Painted Berrypeckers
  • Pardalotidae – Pardalotes
  • Paridae – Tits & Chickadees
  • Parulidae – New World Warblers
  • Passeridae – Old World Sparrows
  • Pellorneidae – Fulvettas, Ground Babblers & Allies
  • Petroicidae – Australasian Robins
  • Peucedramidae – Olive Warbler
  • Philepittidae – Asities
  • Phylloscopidae – Leaf Warblers & Allies
  • Picathartidae – Rockfowl
  • Pipridae – Manakins
  • Pittidae – Pittas
  • Pityriaseidae – Bristlehead
  • Platysteiridae – Wattle-eyes & Batises
  • Ploceidae – Weavers, Widowbirds & Allies
  • Pnoepygidae – Wren-babblers
  • Polioptilidae – Gnatcatchers
  • Pomatostomidae – Australasian Babblers
  • Prionopidae – Helmetshrikes
  • Promeropidae – Sugarbirds
  • Prunellidae – Accentors
  • Psophodidae – Whipbirds, Jewel-babblers & Quail-thrushes
  • Ptilogonatidae – Silky-flycatchers
  • Ptilonorhynchidae – Bowerbirds & Catbirds
  • Pycnonotidae – Bulbuls
  • Regulidae – Goldcrests & Kinglets
  • Remizidae – Penduline Tits
  • Rhagologidae – Mottled Berryhunter
  • Rhinocryptidae – Tapaculos
  • Rhipiduridae – Fantails
  • Sapayoidae -Sapayoa
  • Scotocercidae – Streaked Scrub Warbler
  • Sittidae – Nuthatches
  • Stenostiridae – Fairy Flycatchers
  • Sturnidae – Starlings, Mynas & Rhabdornis
  • Sylviidae – Sylviid Babblers, Parrotbills & Fulvettas
  • Tephrodornithidae – Woodshrikes & Allies
  • Thamnophilidae – Antbirds
  • Thraupidae – Tanagers & Allies
  • Tichodromidae – Wallcreeper
  • Timaliidae – Babblers
  • Tityridae – Tityras, Becards & Allies
  • Troglodytidae – Wrens
  • Turdidae – Thrushes
  • Tyrannidae – Tyrant Flycatchers
  • Urocynchramidae – Przevalski’s Finch
  • Vangidae – Vangas
  • Viduidae – Indigobirds & Whydahs
  • Vireonidae – Vireos, Greenlets & Shrike-babblers
  • Zosteropidae – White-eyes, Yuhinas & Allies
  • Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks & Eagles
  • Aegothelidae – Owlet-nightjars
  • Alcedinidae – Kingfishers
  • Alcidae – Auks
  • Anatidae – Swans, Geese & Ducks
  • Anhimidae – Screamers
  • Anhingidae – Darters
  • Anseranatidae – Magpie Goose
  • Apodidae – Swifts
  • Apterygidae – Kiwis
  • Aramidae – Limpkin
  • Ardeidae – Herons, Egrets & Bitterns
  • Balaenicipitidae – Shoebill
  • Brachypteraciidae – Ground Rollers
  • Bucconidae – Puffbirds
  • Bucerotidae – Hornbills
  • Bucorvidae – Ground Hornbills
  • Burhinidae – Thick-knees & Stone Curlews
  • Cacatuidae – Cockatoos
  • Capitonidae – New World Barbets
  • Caprimulgidae – Nightjars & Nighthawks
  • Cariamidae – Seriemas
  • Casuariidae – Cassowaries
  • Cathartidae – New World Vultures
  • Charadriidae – Plovers, Lapwings & Dotterels
  • Chionidae – Sheathbill
  • Ciconiidae – Storks
  • Coliidae – Mousebirds
  • Columbidae – Doves & Pigeons
  • Coraciidae – Rollers
  • Cracidae – Chachalacas, Curassows & Guans
  • Cuculidae – Old World Cuckoos
  • Diomedeidae – Albatrosses
  • Dromadidae – Crab Plover
  • Dromaiidae – Emu
  • Eurypygidae – Sunbittern
  • Falconidae – Falcons, Kestrels & Caracaras
  • Fregatidae – Frigatebirds
  • Galbulidae – Jacamars
  • Gaviidae – Divers or Loons
  • Glareolidae – Coursers & Pratincoles
  • Gruidae – Cranes
  • Haematopodidae – Oystercatchers
  • Heliornithidae – Finfoots & Sungrebe
  • Hemiprocnidae – Treeswifts
  • Hydrobatidae – Northern Storm Petrels
  • Ibidorhynchidae – Ibisbill
  • Indicatoridae – Honeyguides
  • Jacanidae – Jacanas
  • Laridae – Gulls, Terns & Skimmers
  • Leptosomatidae – Cuckoo Roller
  • Lybiidae – African Barbets
  • Megalimidae – Asian Barbets
  • Megapodiidae – Megapodes
  • Meropidae – Bee-eaters
  • Mesitornithidae – Mesites
  • Momotidae – Motmots
  • Musophagidae – Turacos, Plantain-eaters & Go-away-birds
  • Numididae – Guineafowl
  • Nyctibiidae – Potoos
  • Oceanitidae – Austral Storm Petrels
  • Odontophoridae – New World Quails
  • Opisthocomidae – Hoatzin
  • Otididae – Bustards, Floricans & Korhaans
  • Pandionidae – Ospreys
  • Pedionomidae – Plains Wanderer
  • Pelecanidae – Pelicans
  • Pelecanoididae – Diving Petrels
  • Phaethontidae – Tropicbirds
  • Phalacrocoracidae – Cormorants & Shags
  • Phasianidae – Pheasants, Grouse, Partridges & Allies
  • Phoenicopteridae – Flamingos
  • Phoeniculidae – Wood Hoopoes & Scimitarbills
  • Picidae – Woodpeckers
  • Pluvianellidae – Magellanic Plover
  • Pluvianidae – Egyptian Plover
  • Podargidae – Frogmouths
  • Podicipedidae – Grebes
  • Procellariidae – Petrels, Diving Petrels & Shearwaters
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pelagic birding trips massachusetts

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

pelagic birding trips massachusetts

Birding Massachusetts

Massachusetts has a long and rich birding history. The Nuttall Ornithological Club – the oldest bird club in North America, and parent organisation to the American Ornithologists Union – was founded in Cambridge in 1873. In 1896, the protest of two Boston Brahmin women against the use of bird feathers in the millinery trade eventually lead to the establishment of the Massachusetts Audubon Society – the oldest such organisation in the country. Ludlow Griscom – Dean of Field Ornithology – held a research position at Harvard University from 1927 until his retirement in 1955. Griscom was the first to effectively demonstrate that birds need not be collected to be correctly identified. And in 1975, the discovery of a Ross’s Gull in Newburyport attracted hundreds of birders from around North America and once and for all showed the world that birding was not just a sport for little old ladies in tennis shoes.

Massachusetts is varied in both topography and biological diversity. The mountains of Berkshire County in western Massachusetts have the highest elevation in the state (3,491); and are home to a number of northern breeding species, such as Olive-sided Flycatcher, Blackpoll and Mourning warblers, and as recently as the 1970s, Bicknell’s Thrush. There are many fine locations in the Berkshires to watch migrating hawks in autumn, and irruptive northern finches are more likely to be found in Berkshire County than in any other part of the state.

The agricultural plains and neighbouring wooded hills of the Connecticut River Valley represent a highway for migratory songbirds in spring and fall. Snow Geese pass through the valley in spectacular numbers during migration, and in 1997, two Ross’s Geese were discovered among an enormous flock of Snow Geese – the first for Massachusetts. In late August, hundreds of migrating Common Nighthawks can often be seen hunting flying ants at dusk.

Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts is the only consistent breeding location for Cerulean Warblers in the Commonwealth, and with nearby Wachusett Reservoir represents the southernmost breeding locale for Common Loons in the country. The greatest draw at Quabbin, however, is the Bald Eagle population, with several pairs breeding since 1989, and impressive concentrations of over-wintering birds every year. At Enfield lookout in Belchertown, one can almost be assured of finding a group of eagle watchers any day in the winter, all with scopes set up and engaged in lively conversation about eagle behaviour. In eastern Worcester County, Mount Wachusett and Mount Watatic are popular spring and fall hawk-watching locales.

The North Shore of Essex County features two of the best-known birding locations in the country. Parker River National Wildlife Refuge (i.e. Plum Island) and adjacent Newburyport are justifiably famous for vagrants, as well as shorebirds in migration, and both waterfowl and raptors during the winter. At Cape Ann, especially in winter, one can almost always encounter birders searching the offshore waters for loons, seabirds, ducks, and gulls. Following south-west winds in spring, both Plum Island and Cape Ann periodically collect impressive numbers of migrating songbirds.

The Greater Boston area offers birders a number of options. The Blue Hills Reservation south of the city is one of the more reliable areas in the state for finding breeding Worm-eating Warblers, and the region was the location of the first breeding Black Vulture in Massachusetts (1998). A short subway ride from Logan Airport is Belle Isle Marsh in East Boston, a locality productive for both herons and shorebirds. Winthrop Beach is a fairly reliable spot to look for Barrow’s Goldeneye, King Eider, and Black-headed Gull in winter, and Mew Gulls have been reported here almost annually in recent years. Marblehead Neck and the Nahant peninsula north of Boston are famous migrant traps for songbirds, but perhaps best known is Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. Every day during spring migration one can join dozens, if not hundreds, of other birders enjoying spring migration.

The south-eastern mainland of Massachusetts includes both Plymouth and Bristol counties. In the pine-oak barrens of Plymouth’s Miles Standish State Forest, Whip-poor-wills are a common evening sound, and the barrier spit at Plymouth regularly supports breeding Piping Plovers, Common and Least terns, a few Roseate and Arctic terns, and occasionally a pair of Black Skimmers. In Halifax, agricultural fields belonging to Cumberland Farms often support Rough-legged Hawks by day and Short-eared Owls in the evening during the winter. The Dartmouth/Westport area has the largest breeding concentration of Ospreys in the Commonwealth, and is one of the few breeding areas in Massachusetts for White-eyed Vireo. Almost anywhere along the extensive shoreline of south-eastern Massachusetts it is possible to find a pleasant variety of ducks and shorebirds in season.

Cape Cod and the Islands are considerably farther south than the rest of Massachusetts, and consequently are good locations to search for southern species, such as Blue Grosbeak and Summer Tanager, during migration. At the elbow of Cape Cod is Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge and South Beach, a constantly shifting series of sandbars and mud flats, that are virtually shorebird magnets. Practically every shorebird rarity ever recorded in Massachusetts has found its way to this remarkable area at one time or another. The Cape and Islands are also the breeding grounds of several species found nowhere else in the state, but access to these breeding specialities is extremely limited. Tiny Penikese Island in Buzzards Bay is home to a small colony of Leach’s Storm-Petrels, and Northern Harriers and Short-eared Owls – now rare or absent as breeders on the mainland – still regularly nest on Tuckernuck Island off Nantucket. And despite the fact that Chuck-will’s-widow has never been confirmed as a breeder in Massachusetts, indications are that the species has likely been breeding on Martha’s Vineyard for over a quarter of a century.

The popularity of whale-watching makes pelagic birding in Massachusetts more accessible than in many other coastal localities. Whale-watching boats leave daily in the summer from various ports, including Newburyport, Gloucester, Boston, Plymouth, & Provincetown, and occasionally there are dedicated birding trips sponsored by local birding clubs to offshore waters.

By Bird Observer Staff

| [email protected]

Number of bird species: 501

Igoterra checklist.

pelagic birding trips massachusetts

A Birder's Guide to Eastern Massachusetts

Aba field guide to birds of massachusetts, birds of massachusetts, massachusetts birds: an introduction to familiar species, massachusetts breeding bird atlas, cape cod bird festival, wing island bird banding station, cape cod museum of natural history, allen bird club, athol bird & nature club, audubon society in massachusetts, boxborough birders, brookline bird club, cape cod bird club, eastern massachusetts hawk watch, essex county greenbelt association, essex county ornithological club, forbush bird club, hampshire bird club, hoffmann bird club, manomet centre for conservation sciences, massbird.org, massachusetts audubon society, massachusetts avian records committee, massachusetts land trust coalition, menotomy bird club, merrimack valley bird club, millers river environmental center, nasketucket bird club, nature conservancy in massachusetts, paskamansett bird club, south shore bird club, sudbury valley trustees, trustees of reservations.

Abbreviations Key

IBA Sampsons Island

Massachusetts state forests and parks, nr fresh pond reservation, nwr mashpee, nwr monomoy, nwr parker river, nwr silvio o conte national fish and wildlife refuge, national wildlfe refuges in massachusetts, wma burrage pond, wma leadmine, wrf cape poge, wrf long point, ws broad meadow brook sanctuary, ws daniel webster wildlife sanctuary, ws ipswich river, ws moose hill, ws mount auburn cemetery, ws north river, ws stony brook, ws wachusett meadow, ws wellfleet bay wildlife sanctuary, arlington birds, essex river cruises, 2009 [05 may] - andrew birch, 2010 [01 january] - stephanie & jonathan hill, 2016 [10 october] - james p smith - new england, captain farris house, clark tavern inn b&b, inn at cape cod, isaiah hall b&b inn, isaiah jones homestead b&b - sandwich, nobnocket boutique inn - martha's vineyard, birds of new england, central massachusetts bird update, lisa shea's birding in massachusetts, marj rine's birding pages, alexander dunn - the daily bird new england, gregory billingham - forays into the world of birding, james smith - pioneer birding, tom pirro - birding north central massachusetts, artist - catherine mcclung, gallery - migration productions, photographer - jim fenton.

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pelagic birding trips massachusetts

Formerly 'Extinct' Bird Shows Up in Massachusetts Waters

pelagic birding trips massachusetts

If you listen regularly, you know that I occasionally report on the so called Extreme Pelagic birding trips run by the vaunted Brookline Bird Club. Well, those wacky, ocean going birders were at it again this past weekend, when, on a quest for rare seabirds, they steamed out of Hyannis aboard the Helen H. 

On their overnight tour of the continental shelf waters 140 miles southeast of Hyannis, these salty surveyors turned up some real doozies. But while sightings of Brown Booby, White-faced Storm-Petrel, Black-capped Petrels, and South Polar Skua were worth the price of admission, one bird put the other sightings to shame. Because until its rediscovery in 1951, the Bermuda Petrel had been presumed extinct for centuries.

First, while the name of this uber rarity is officially Bermuda Petrel, many, including even younger birders, still defer to the traditional Bermudian name of Cahow. I realize this is a hard to pronounce word, so let me use it in a sentence: “Having seen the world’s second rarest seabird in Massachusetts waters, I can’t help but wonder Ca-how the ca-hell those Brookline Bird Club birders got so lucky.” Hopefully that helps.

Given that this is among the world’s rarest birds, it’s reasonable to scrutinize the report. So how did they know it was a Bermuda Petrel – did photos reveal it to be wearing tiny pink shorts smartly paired with a blue blazer? More likely it was the neck, rump, and underwing pattern, which together distinguished this species from the more common but still very rare Black-capped Petrel that was also flying around the boat. Both species are what’s known as “gadfly petrels”, fast-flying, lone-wolf seabirds of deep offshore waters, all of which are very popular among the seabirding crowd.

The Bermuda Petrel was given up for extinct by the time the pilgrims landed in Massachusetts. While the species once apparently numbered in the hundreds of thousands across the Bermuda archipelago, the usual suspects when it comes to island extinction events – cats, rats, dogs, hogs, and humans - ate them into presumed extinction by the 17th century. A few sightings and specimens in the early 20th century were tantalizing hints that reports of their extinction were greatly exaggerated. But it wasn’t until 1951, when seven pairs were confirmed nesting on a few tiny Bermudan islets, that the Bermuda Petrel was officially exhumed from the extinction list and reanimated as a species.

The tiny remnant population has since survived nest site competition with other seabirds, egg shell thinning from DDT, and storm surges flooding their nesting burrows. A man named David Wingate almost singlehandedly brought the species back from extinction over the last five decades using a combination of artificial burrows, translocations, and hand feeding, as well as reforestation of one of the nesting islands. His successor, Jeremy Medeiros, has continued the recovery efforts, and has recently placed tracking devices on some birds. Results indicate that they range across most of the North Atlantic, and at least occasionally may visit the Gulf of Maine and Southern New England waters. Despite that, there is only one previous record for the state, in some far flung shelf waters that are, at best, sort of in Massachusetts, but also sort of in Nova Scotia.

Since there are only estimated to be a few hundred Bermuda Petrels in the world I suspect I am not going to see this bird anytime soon. But I take comfort in the simple fact that they still exist on the planet, something that is still not assured over the long term. But for now, at least, we can say that, whoever said “extinction is forever” didn’t ask the Bermuda Petrel.

Learn more about the Nonsuch Expeditions which includes the CahowCam project, here:  www.nonsuchisland.com  

pelagic birding trips massachusetts

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Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center

12Hr Marine Mammal & Pelagic Bird Watch

Quick Details

  • Hour Glass Duration: 12 Hours
  • User Ages: Ages 18+

Venture out 40-60 miles into the offshore waters of the Atlantic Ocean!

This marine mammal and birding tour in Cape May, New Jersey is led by our team of experienced marine mammal naturalists and researchers, as well as a pelagic bird naturalist. While offshore, we chum for pelagic birds to get that perfect photo opportunity! The American Star has a heated indoor cabin for you to relax while you scout out the beauty of our marine life. eBird checklists are created by our team of experts and shared after the trip.

Possible sightings include:

  • Marine Mammals: Humpback Whales, Fin Whales, Minke Whales, Right Whales, Pilot Whales, Bottlenose Dolphins, Common Dolphins, Risso’s Dolphins and more!
  • Pelagic Birds: Shearwaters, Jaegers, Northern Gannets, Fulmar, Phalaropes, Kittiwakes, Loons, (October-November: Razor Bills, Murres, and Dovekies, Winter: Puffins)
  • Other Species: Sharks (Hammerhead, Thresher, Great White), Sea turtles (Loggerhead, Leatherback, or Green), Oceanic Sunfish, False Albacore, Tuna, Jellyfish and more!

Please note, trips are subject to varying weather and sea conditions. Trips will only sail in favorable weather conditions. Captain will make the final decision if the trip is sailing 48hrs prior to the scheduled cruise.

Prepaid Reservations Only! Due to the special nature of this trip, we are not able to offer the marine mammal guarantee.

Trip summaries:

October 2021 , October 2022, November 2022, December 2021, February 2023, November 2023

  • Chevron down Frequently Asked Questions:

Is there parking available onsite? – Yes, we have free parking available onsite in our designated Whale Watch parking lot. An attendant will be there to guide you to the appropriate free parking lot.

Are there bathrooms on the boat? – Yes, the American Star is equipped with 4 restrooms onboard.

Are there food/drinks available onboard? – Yes, we do have a full galley, bar, and gift shop onboard that accepts cash or credit card. However, for this extended trip we do advise bringing any food/drink that you require for the day.

Do I need to wear a life-jacket onboard? – No. We have life-jackets for every passenger onboard and they are used for emergency purposes only. The United States Coast Guard annually inspects all safety equipment onboard the American Star, and your captain will give a detailed safety briefing as your cruise departs.

Is the boat wheelchair accessible? – Depending on tide conditions, there may be several steps to get onboard the American Star. Standard manual wheelchairs can be lifted onboard by mates, however, due to their weight, power wheelchairs cannot be accommodated.

Will I get seasick on this cruise? – The American Star is 100ft long and very stable in our Atlantic Ocean conditions. If you are susceptible to motion sickness, we recommend taking precautions with Dramamine, Bonine or Sea Bands. These are available at the dock.

Is there shade on the boat? – The American Star was custom built for sightseeing with passenger comfort in mind. There is a spacious inside cabin available to keep you out of the elements as well as numerous shaded areas outside on deck.

Will the boat be crowded? – The American Star is a 100ft long vessel custom built for sightseeing. It has seating for over 250 passengers. This cruise is drastically limited in capacity to allow plenty of room onboard!

Related Activities

  • User Ages 18+
  • Hour Glass 24 Hours

24hr Marine Mammal & Pelagic Bird Watch

This trip is led by our team of experienced marine mammal naturalists and researchers, as well as a pelagic bird naturalist. While offshore, we chum for pelagic birds to get that perfect photo opportunity!

  • User Ages 13+ , All ages
  • Hour Glass 6 Hours

6hr Mini Pelagic with Cape May Bird Observatory

Step aboard the American Star in partnership with the Cape May Bird Observatory for this half day (~6 hours) exploration of the inshore Pelagic Zone off Cape May, NJ for Pelagic Birds and Marine Mammals.

  • Most Popular
  • User All ages
  • Hour Glass 2 Hours

Dolphin & Bird Watch

Step aboard the American Star and start your day with a 2hr cruise featuring Cape May’s mascot, the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin.

pelagic birding trips massachusetts

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Jeffreys Ledge Pelagic Birding Trip

October 9, 2023 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm edt.

pelagic birding trips massachusetts

Join NH Audubon aboard MV Granite State   as we explore Jeffreys Ledge, 20 miles off the New Hampshire coast. This is an all-day expedition (between 8-10 hours at sea), departing from Rye Harbor, to look for pelagic (ocean-going) seabirds on Jeffreys Ledge, although we’ll also keep an eye out for whales and other marine life. Jeffreys Ledge is an undersea ridge running northeast from near Rockport, Massachusetts to near Cape Elizabeth, Maine.  Its steep sides produce upwellings of nutrient-rich waters that produce a lot of food for seabirds and marine life.   

What we will see: From the upper deck, a person with good binoculars can scan a circle of ocean a couple of miles across, with a good chance of seeing groups of birds quite some distance away. On past fall trips, we have seen four different species of Shearwater (Great, Sooty, Cory’s, and Manx), Northern Gannets, Red-necked Phalaropes in fall plumage, Wilson’s Storm-petrel, jaegers, an array of near-shore species, and random migrants. We’ve also seen several different species of whales and dolphins, including Fin, Minke, Right, and Humpback Whales, Harbor Porpoises, Atlantic White-Sided Dolphins, and once a rare Sperm Whale on the outer edge of Jeffreys Ledge.    

Presenter: Renowned birders and NH Audubon volunteers Steve and Jane Mirick will be our group leaders, with Captain Pete Reynolds driving the boat. NH Audubon volunteer and avid birder Jon Woolf will coordinate logistics.  

Join Jon Woolf for the introductory webinar, Introduction to Pelagic Wildlife, on Friday, October 6 th , 8pm-9pm (free for all attendees).  

For mobility, sensory, behavioral, or other accessibility accommodations, please contact Massabesic Center Director Kimmie Whiteman.

Cost: $80 for NH Audubon members $100 for non-members ( Join or renew your membership today! Not sure of your membership status? Email our member services department or call (603) 224-9909 x310.)  

Registration Required. NH Audubon’s ticket system utilizes PayPal to process payments. Users are not required to use PayPal to check out; a guest option is provided. PayPal is a trusted way to pay online.

Please note w e have set a maximum of 50 people, to allow for comfortable spacing and an enjoyable bird-watching experience.  These trips sell out quickly, and we do not run a waiting list.  

This trip is weather-dependent. Final decisions on whether we can comfortably set sail will be made the day before.  There are no rain dates. First priority for registration will be granted to participants from the previous tour’s weather cancellation, if applicable.  

Confirmation letters, including the webinar Zoom link and information about what to bring and what to wear, will be sent to all participants after we sell out (typically in early September).  

This fall, NH Audubon’s Seacoast Chapter will be running a second trip on 9/5/2023.  

Photo: Corys Shearwater, Steve Mirick

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Excellence in Pelagic Birding

  • 2024 Schedule

pelagic birding trips massachusetts

2024 Spring Schedule*

May 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, DAILY May 22 – June 3

2024 Summer Schedule*

Hatteras August 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 18, 31 September 1

Wanchese August 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29

2024 Fall Schedule*

September 14 (obligatory weather date 15), 28 (obligatory weather date 29)

October 12 (obligatory weather date 13)

* SPACE UPDATE – All of the spring trips are sold out, but you can sign up for the waiting list; Space on all Summer & Fall Trips! (23 April 2024)

Let us know if you have a group that wants to go seabirding!  If you have enough people, we can add a trip to the schedule, or you might want to charter the boat for your own trip!!

*2024 Price: $225 per person per day for any number of trips if paid by credit card. *$15 off on each trip for two or more days in a 10 day period – so $210 per person/day –  discount available with payment by check or money order only

 *Meeting time  5:15 am at Hatteras Landing Marina in Hatteras, NC for Hatteras trips from early May to mid June, 5:30 am at Hatteras Landing Marina in Hatteras, NC for Hatteras trips in August and September 1, 5:30 am at Wanchese Marina in Wanchese, NC for Wanchese trips in August *Please check your confirmation to make sure you know what location your trip is running from! We will send directions with that confirmation once you have reserved space and made your payment! Meeting time for fall trips is 0600 (Sept 14(15), 28 (29) & Oct 12 (13))

            *Duration : 10 to 11 hours 

 As in the past, we are open for charters if you would like to organize your own group of participants for a day offshore!   In 2024 they start at $2200 for the first ten participants then $220/person up to 20 maximum.

Most of the pelagic trips we run during the warmer months visit the Gulf Stream- a highly dynamic, warm water current that passes very close to Cape Hatteras.  The Gulf Stream moves generally in a northeasterly direction.  Near Cape Hatteras, the Gulf Stream meets the southbound Labrador Current.  The latter is a cold water current, which has considerably less velocity than the Gulf Stream, but nevertheless plays and important part in creating the dynamic marine ecosystem along the west wall of the Gulf Stream.  The west wall of the Gulf Stream is usually 20 to 25 miles from Hatteras Inlet.

While many species of pelagic seabirds feed primarily along the west wall of the Gulf Stream, some, such as the Black-capped Petrel (a regional specialty) are found primarily a few miles seaward of the Gulf Stream edge.  Others, such as tropicbirds, may be found in the relatively unproductive Gulf Stream interior.

On some days the west wall of the Gulf Stream is easy to spot, as cobalt blue water meets shelf water that is green “as a gourd”.   At other times, particularly if the stream is a bit farther offshore, the change might be subtle and there can be a large area of “blended water” between the shelf water and the axis of the stream.  The axis is where the “hard current” is located. The current generally flows on a northeasterly heading at about 2 to 4 knots.

There are a number of seabirds typically associated with Gulf Stream water in the western North Atlantic.  These are Black-capped Petrel, Audubon’s Shearwater, Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, White-tailed Tropicbird, Red-billed Tropicbird, Masked Booby, and Bridled & Sooty Terns.  Many of the rarities we see, Bermuda Petrel, Fea’s Petrel, & Trindade Petrel, are seldom found away from this feature, but that might be more of a coincidence than a real association, because we see a number of cold-temperature species in the Gulf Stream with great frequency, Great Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, & Wilson’s Storm-Petrel.

In any event, for most of the spring and summer, the Gulf Stream off Cape Hatteras is probably the most consistent (and convenient) place in the western North Atlantic for finding a variety of pelagic seabirds on any given day.  Getting there usually only takes between 2 to 2.5 hours of traveling each direction, so most of our day is spent in or along the Gulf Stream.

Whale Watching and Dolphin Adventure Cruise in New York City aboard the American Princess

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 Our Pelagic Bird & Marine Wildlife Trips have been AWESOME as were our 2023 Whale Watching & Dolphin Adventures! * 95% SIGHTINGS * *Tickets for a NEW 12-Hr. Spring Pelagic Bird & Marine Wildlife Trip scheduled for 4/6/24 can be purchased by clicking the BOOK NOW tab above.  For trip information see 12-Hr. Spring Pelagic Bird & Marine Wildlife Trip – 4/6/24 – Whale Watching and Dolphin Adventure Cruise in New York City aboard the American Princess (americanprincesscruises.com) **Our 2024 Whale Watching & Dolphin Adventure schedule has just been released; tickets for our April – July Adventures available NOW and can be purchased by clicking the BOOK NOW tab above.  August – Nov available soon! For info see  https://americanprincesscruises.com/cruises/2024-whale-watching-dolphin-cruise-new-york/ Please stay informed by checking back with us here, or by signing up for our e-blast specials if you haven’t already done so.

12-hour pelagic bird & marine wildlife trip – 2/10/24.

 Set sail with the American Princess for a Special 12-hour Pelagic Bird & Marine Wildlife Trip!

This trip is planned to cover the pelagic zone out to 30-50 miles.

Birds seen regularly at this time of year on this type of trip include Dovekie (a trip like this set the NY state record of 7,000+), Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill, Common Murre, possibly Thick-billed Murre, Northern Fulmar, Black-Legged Kittiwake, Iceland, Glaucous, and Lesser Black-Backed Gull, and Northern Gannet. Of course we’re always hoping for an uncommon but occasionally seen Great Skua.

Possible cetaceans include Common Dolphin, occasionally Harbor Porpoise, and Humpback, Fin, and Minke Whales. If the water gets cold enough Atlantic White-sided Dolphin is also possible.

The plan is to head offshore towards good structure that attracts marine life. We will chum and attract a flock of gulls which, in turn, attracts other species like Fulmar and Razorbill.

Photography opportunities can be excellent particularly for Northern Gannets and gulls but sometimes also for Fulmar and alcids. Be sure to bring a shorter lens or zoom since the Gannets have 6 foot wingspans and often come close to the boat.

pelagic birding trips massachusetts

• All sales are final and non-refundable (cancelling then transferring reservation to another person is allowed only in the event the spot is filled) • Our captains and crew work diligently to make every trip a success. • Cruises are Rain or Shine • There is a 24-hour cancellation policy • In the event of a cancellation, customer is responsible for making another reservation • Check our WEBSITE ALERTS for cancellations & daily cruise status • Ticket purchases are good only for the 2024 – Special 12-hour Pelagic and Marine Wildlife Trip • Your proof of purchase (Paypal receipt/Credit Card receipt/voucher) will serve as your ticket • You do NOT need a PayPal account to make purchases through PayPal • Coolers and outside alcoholic beverages are prohibited • Passengers subject to search (as permitted by the US Coast Guard) • Captain’s recommendation: Due to NYC traffic we advise that you plan to arrive 90 minutes before the departure time • All trips are subject to availability and American Princess Cruises reserves the right to cancel any trip at any time

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Whale Watching and Dolphin Adventure Cruise in New York City aboard the American Princess

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Celebrate your special event with a cruise aboard New York’s American Princess yacht, which is available for charter all year round. We offer various types of New York Cruises including a wedding cruise, engagement cruise, bridal shower cruise, 4th of July fireworks cruise, New Year’s Eve cruise, Coney Island Fireworks Cruise, birthday party cruise, sweet 16 cruise, mother’s day cruise, father’s day cruise, anniversary cruise, surprise party cruise, retirement party cruise, graduation party cruise, bon voyage cruise, Halloween party cruise, costume party cruise, Valentine’s Day cruise, religious cruise, bar/bat mitzvah cruise, confirmation cruise, burial at sea cruise, fundraising cruise, charity cruise or a corporate event cruise.

In addition, the American Princess boat can be chartered for thematic cruises such as a nature cruise, historic cruise, tugboat enthusiast cruise, whale watching cruise , dolphin watching cruise, seal watching cruise, bird watching cruise, fall foliage cruise, harbor fortification cruise, Jamaica Bay wildlife ecology tour and cruise, sightseeing cruise, lighthouse cruise, food and wine tasting cruise, special wreck cruise and floating harbor wreck cruise.

Contact us to help you coordinate a voyage you will remember forever!

Owned and operated by TWFM Ferry Inc. of New York, American Princess Cruises is a premier New York City cruise operator that provides cruise service to the five boroughs of New York City (Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island), Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk Counties), New Jersey and Connecticut.

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pelagic birding trips massachusetts

Welcome to Scilly Pelagics: pelagic trips operating out of St. Mary’s, Isles of Scilly. You'll find information about our pelagic trips and our studies of seabirds observed off Scilly and across the world. You can book pelagics and purchase our multimedia guides and clothing. 

Scilly Pelagics is managed by Bob Flood and Joe Pender. We provide expert knowledge about seabirds, seabirding, seamanship and where to find seabirds and ocean wildlife in Scillonian waters. We offer an unsurpassable service in the British Isles for pelagic birding. Scheduled trips and private charters are available.

In partnership with

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July/August 2024 Birder Special Pelagics

What we offer....

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Birder Special Pelagics

Scilly Pelagics was launched in 2006 to cater for the ever-growing interest in seabirds and other wildlife regularly found in Scillonian waters. Scilly Birder Special Pelagics are a long weekend – Friday to Monday inclusive – to see and photograph as many specialities as possible, in particular Cory's and Great Shearwaters and Wilson's Storm-petrel.

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Sapphire Pelagics

Operated by experienced seaman and skipper of  MV Sapphire  Joe Pender, Sapphire Pelagics offers short-range pelagic trips combining seabirding with a shark-tagging programme. A team of experienced local birders and shark taggers will be on board to help with spotting, identification and distributing chum, the key ingredient to attracting sharks and seabirds.

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Multimedia ID Guides

Multimedia Identification Guides to North Atlantic Seabirds is a unique series of books and DVDs covering the detailed identification of all Procellariiformes occurring in the North Atlantic. The series includes Storm-petrels & Bulwer's Petrel; Pterodroma Petrels; Albatrosses & Fulmarine Petrels; and Shearwaters. This groundbreaking collection is a vital addition to any seabirder's library.

Our new range of quality embroidered Scilly Pelagics clothing includes

caps, polos, and hoodies all available in grey and navy blue.

Polos (men's and women's) and hoodies available in various sizes. 

Scilly Pelagics clothing range 

pelagic birding trips massachusetts

Pelagic Customer Reviews

Quotes from twitter....

Just had the absolute best day, watching common dolphin bow-riding during the Scilly Pelagic. Also, the 19+ Wilson’s Storm-petrels were OK! SB

@scillypelagics thank you so much for the last two days. Great birding. Trips so well organised and call-outs and directions are superb. Great fun, tremendous views. Anyone reading this, go do it! BU

Superlative seabirding today with @scillypelagics. BD

Just the best of birding experiences. Wilson’s Storm-petrel, Great Shearwater, Cory’s Shearwater …just some of the highlights of the Scilly Pelagics weekend, enjoyed with my son. Brilliant @scillypelagics. ST

A fantastic 3 days with so many highlights. Thx for an unforgettable experience. SC

One of the best, if not the best birding trips I’ve been on. RK

You could nearly touch the shearwaters. Absolutely fantastic. Can’t wait for next year. GM

Had a brilliant day on Sunday. Life-ticked Wilson’s. Huge numbers of Great Shears, loads of Cory’s, all point-blank views. Thanks guys. MB

Trip of a lifetime. BP  

Genuinely the best birding experience of my life! Thank you so much. AT

Absolutely fabulous four days with Scilly Pelagics. Memories are made from trips like that. RH

My 1st trips with @scillypelagics for ca 10 years were excellent – e.g. on Saturday we spent ˃20 mins surrounded by Wilson’s Petrels. NW

Our trip was simply joy. GE Genuinely one of the best birding trips I’ve been on for a while, @scillypelagics were fantastic. SF

Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

[email protected]

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Monterey Seabirds

2024 pelagic seabird trips.

Great-winged Petrel, photo by Martijn Verdoes

Reservations are required. Reservations can be made by clicking on a date above, or by using our online reservation form or by calling (831) 375-4658 with a credit card number to hold your spot. Go to Whale Watch Trip Information Page for further details (trip preparation, directions, etc.). For the Seabird trips we have a 2-week cancellation policy. Note that regular Whale Watch trips are also scheduled on the same dates as the Seabird trips.

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COMMENTS

  1. Pelagic Bird Watching From Gloucester, MA

    PELAGIC BIRD WATCHING FROM GLOUCESTER. 7 Seas is proud of its reputation as being "the birder's whale watch" in Gloucester. While the whales are, of course, the main focus of our trips, many of our crew are also avid bird watchers and are always aware of any birds in the area. We make a special point to make sure that any birders on board ...

  2. Pelagic Trips

    The Brookline Bird Club will host two overnight pelagic trips in August 2024 from Hyannis MA to the Hydrographer Canyon area (August 24-25th and August 26-27th). We expect to reach warm Gulf Stream-influenced waters far offshore to see shearwaters, storm-petrels, jaegers and more! Possible targets include White-faced Storm-petrels, Band-rump ...

  3. Westport Seabirds

    The entire Westport Seabirds crew had such a great time with our valued customers during our 2023 season. Thanks to all our for making this our 47th year such a memorable one! Our 2024 schedule is now available - see 2024 schedule tab. We hope you will join us for one of our all day pelagic birdwatching trips to one of several deep water submarine canyons that are 30 nautical miles from the ...

  4. Massachusetts Pelagic Birding

    There are several different birding boat tours, whale watches, and pelagic trips that leave from Massachuestts ports. For pelagic trips, familiarize yourself with eBird's pelagic protocol and use the appropriate personal locations or eBird hotspots. The eBird pelagic protocol applies to checklists that are made farther than two miles offshore on oceans, seas, or large lakes.

  5. Seabirds and Pelagic Birding Boat Trip in Cape Ann, MA

    March 18, 2022 @ 10:00 AM - March 20, 2022 @ 3:00 PM. Cape Ann, Massachusetts, is a worldwide destination for winter birds and birders. This annual winter adventure is an outstanding opportunity to spend quality time with species rarely, if ever, seen inland. This trip is not only about discovering rare species by land and sea, but about ...

  6. Special Pelagic Bird Cruise

    July 10, 2023 1:30pm Click here to Book this Date! In the heat of summer, Derek will be onboard for this special Whale Watch & Birding Buffs Combo Cruise. The itinerary will include a visit to Eastern Egg Rock as well as whale feeding grounds. Nesting colonies and pelagic sightings will be highlighted. Around EER at this time we can expect to ...

  7. Overnight Pelagic Trip from Hyannis MA to Hydrographer Canyon Area

    Overnight pelagic trip to Hyrdrographer Canyon area. Join the BBC on the Helen H out of Hyannis, MA to search for pelagic birds. We expect to reach warm Gulf Stream influenced waters far offshore to see shearwaters, storm-petrels, jaegers and more! Possible targets include White-faced Storm-petrels, Band-rump Storm-petrel, Audubon's Shearwater. A fabulous chance to spend […]

  8. Cape Cod

    Trips dedicated to pelagic birds generally head fairly far offshore, so they take longer. The Brookline Bird Club offers the best trips. They have one in late September, but it is an overnight trip, so probably not to your liking. Second, there is a significant potential for traffic bottlenecks getting on and off the Cape, especially on the ...

  9. Summer 2024 pelagics: register today!

    Brookline Bird Club - America's most active bird club! Our 2024 overnight pelagic trips are now open for registration! This August, the Brookline Bird Club will be running two back-to-back trips on Saturday-Sunday August 24-25 and then Monday-Tuesday August 26-27. If you have the flexibility to sign up for the weekday August 26-27 trip ...

  10. Chatham Pelagics

    These four-hour trips depart the Chatham Fish Pier aboard the seaworthy 32-foot "Kittiwake" with Captain Kenny Eldredge at the helm, a native Cape Codder with decades of experience on the local waters. The cost is currently $110/person. For more information on the boat see the captain's web site. The trips are run on an irregular basis ...

  11. Seabirding

    The Gulf Stream's Inhabitants - 7 October 2023 by Kate Sutherland October 17, 2023. The wind was blowing for a few days before our final scheduled trip of the year to the Gulf Stream, but by Saturday there was just a nice, long period (ten second) swell of about 6 to 7 feet from the east / southeast and wind about 15 miles per hour from the ...

  12. Birds, Birding Trips and Birdwatching Tours in Commonwealth of

    The popularity of whale-watching makes pelagic birding in Massachusetts more accessible than in many other coastal localities. Whale-watching boats leave daily in the summer from various ports, including Newburyport, Gloucester, Boston, Plymouth, & Provincetown, and occasionally there are dedicated birding trips sponsored by local birding clubs ...

  13. Formerly 'Extinct' Bird Shows Up in Massachusetts Waters

    The Bermuda Petrel was given up for extinct by the time the pilgrims landed in Massachusetts. While the species once apparently numbered in the hundreds of thousands across the Bermuda archipelago ...

  14. Field Trips / Events Archive

    Info for Field Trip Leaders; Pelagic Trips; Birding in Cemeteries; Trip Reports; Events. Meetings; Workshops; Conservation & Education. Duck Stamps; Bill Drummond Young Birder Scholarship; School Book Fund; American Kestrel Nesting Box Program; ... Yapp Farm, Dracut, MA Saturday, April 27 @ 8:00 am - 10:00 am.

  15. 12Hr Marine Mammal & Pelagic Bird Watch

    Venture out 40-60 miles into the offshore waters of the Atlantic Ocean! This marine mammal and birding tour in Cape May, New Jersey is led by our team of experienced marine mammal naturalists and researchers, as well as a pelagic bird naturalist. While offshore, we chum for pelagic birds to get that perfect photo opportunity!

  16. Jeffreys Ledge Pelagic Birding Trip

    Jeffreys Ledge Pelagic Birding Trip. October 9, 2023 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm EDT. $80.00 - $100.00. Seacoast Chapter Field Trip - Birch St Community Gardens. Seacoast Chapter Field Trip - Hawk Watch at Pack Monadnock. Join NH Audubon aboard MV Granite State as we explore Jeffreys Ledge, 20 miles off the New Hampshire coast.

  17. Gulf Stream Trips

    The current generally flows on a northeasterly heading at about 2 to 4 knots. There are a number of seabirds typically associated with Gulf Stream water in the western North Atlantic. These are Black-capped Petrel, Audubon's Shearwater, Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, White-tailed Tropicbird, Red-billed Tropicbird, Masked Booby, and Bridled & Sooty ...

  18. Pelagics

    When/Where. Be at the dock at 9pm on Saturday, August 10th for check-in & orientation. Please be on-time. We expect to return to the dock about 6 pm the following day. Fisherman's Wharf. 107 Anglers Road. Lewes, DE 19958. REGISTER at the LINK HERE. For questions regarding registration, call (302) 645.TUNA, or visit: https://www.fishlewes.com ...

  19. 12-hour Pelagic Bird & Marine Wildlife Trip

    Set sail with the American Princess for a Special 12-hour Pelagic Bird & Marine Wildlife Trip! This trip is planned to cover the pelagic zone out to 30-50 miles. Birds seen regularly at this time of year on this type of trip include Dovekie (a trip like this set the NY state record of 7,000+), Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill, Common Murre, possibly ...

  20. How to pick a pelagic trip

    Choosing a pelagic trip. The Ports: We venture out from Half Moon Bay (Pillar Point Harbor), Monterey (Fisherman's Wharf), Morro Bay (Morro Bay Landing), and Bodega Bay (Porto Bodega). The majority of our trips are from Half Moon Bay and Monterey. Only one or two trips a season are from the southernmost port, Morro Bay, and the northernmost ...

  21. Watching seabirds on Scilly

    Just had the absolute best day, watching common dolphin bow-riding during the Scilly Pelagic. Also, the 19+ Wilson's Storm-petrels were OK! SB. @scillypelagics thank you so much for the last two days. Great birding. Trips so well organised and call-outs and directions are superb. Great fun, tremendous views. Anyone reading this, go do it! BU

  22. Tofino Pelagic Bird Watching Tours

    PELAGIC BIRD WATCHING TOUR. Embark on an exhilarating adventure with our Pelagic Bird Watching Tour, tailor-made for seasoned bird enthusiasts. Departing bright and early, this six-hour voyage takes you 25 km offshore to the breathtaking Clayoquot Canyon aboard our 30 ft Boston Whaler, the Big White, led by experienced guide John Forde.

  23. Monterey Pelagic Seabird Cruises

    For details, please contact us at [email protected] . 2024 MONTEREY SEABIRD TRIPS. Note: A 6% Booking Processing fee will be added to each purchase. 8-hour trips - $160, starting at 7:30 a.m. 12-hour trips - $199, starting at 7:30 a.m. Sunday August 18 (8 hr) Sunday August 25 (8 hr) Monday August 26 (8 hr)