Black-capped Petrel

We sat in our kitchen looking out the window as Hurricane Irma blew her final breath and was downgraded to a Tropical Storm. The pine trees swayed back and forth, branches fell, leaves swirled through the air. Something else was flying through the air over Lake Jackson, something very special. A Black-capped Petrel! Rob Lengacher spotted it first and alerted others. My wife saw the pictures on Facebook. Dad and I arrived a little after 6 pm and Jeff O’Connell put us on it. I’ve seen a few Black-capped Petrels while living in Florida but never over an inland lake. Black-capped Petrels are a pelagic species and typically only visit land during their nesting season (they nest on the montane slopes of Hispaniola). So why was this one flying over Lake Jackson? Hurricane Irma! See my previous post on Tropical Cyclones. For video and pictures of the Lake Jackson petrel see Rob and Jeff’s eBird checklists. Here’s a picture of one I took flying over the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 75 nautical miles off New Smyrna Beach. Black-capped Petrels spend most of their lives far offshore flying over the open ocean! Amazingly, the Lake Jackson petrel was the 2nd record for Leon County. The first? 1964, found dead below a radio tower after Hurricane Dora had impacted the state. Coincidentally the date for both records, September 11th!


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