Sunday, 10 August 2014

Scilly Pelagic - Bertha Stormie fest!!

Sunday dawned and 'Bertha' was knocking doors and rattling windows  …..but at least the rain had passed through! It was a head down tussle against the gusts whilst approaching the harbour where 15 birders assembled with an air of nervous expectation? 



Despite a 35 mph average windspeed, stronger in the gusts, we were off.......The tactic for the day was simple, find a sheltered spot 2 miles in the lee of St Mary's and then chum / drift to see what would happen? Great Shearwater and Cory’s Shearwater were soon seen but numbers for each species were to remain in single figures. 







Four miles out, the slick began to attract Storm Petrels and soon after, a brief encounter with one Wilson’s Petrel, which  soon disappeared into the waves. The swell got progressively bigger and the next two hours were spent in the company of an estimated 200+ Storm Petrels. They were a nightmare to photograph, constantly moving in all directions with their flickering flight, inevitably presenting their rears as they danced and darted upwind over the slick.

I reached for the 100-400mm zoom lens to try and capture more than one in the frame? First four....



Then five....


 And finally six!!



Just about one of the most difficult birds to photograph! You had a (brief) chance as they were feeding on the water....




Before flying further away!


There were were longer waits for petrels flying upwing to the boat but at least there was a chance of the head being in view!


Until disappearing behind waves!


This Petrel virtually flew  into the boat....


A sideways glance before disappearing!


Great Shearwater over a big sea....


Not just masters of the sky but in their element amongst the waves!


The looooong  journey back in was rather 'lumpy'! Every few waves, one looked as though it was going to come aboard and join us? Skillfully steered through the swell by Joe we never got that wet! :-) Note the empty seats - where has everyone gone!!!



Four consecutive evenings and days at sea and I would have been up for yet another week! Has to be one of the most exhilarating birding experiences ever! Huge thanks to Bob Flood and Joe Pender for effectively laying all these birds on. Great company with Richard, Gary, Rob, Higgo plus everyone else I didn't get to know by name!


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