Sunday, 16 August 2015

Scilly pelagic no 8 - ** FEAS PETREL ***

We were nearly three hours into the pelagic and despite the very light south easterly wind, the mood onboard was upbeat as expectations had already been exceeded! Exceptional views of Great and Sooty Shearwater (to follow) plus a Pom Skua, European Storm Petrels etc. had proven you never know what to expect! Having steamed to the reef near the Sevenstones lightship and a good batch of chum was laying down a slick..... Surrounded by Fulmars, Gannets and Gulls - it was a bit of a lull in pelagic terms?

I had taken a break from scanning the slick - amusing myself photographing Fulmars by the boat (big mistake) but Bob Flood hadn't.... I noticed him looking very intently up the slick! It would be fair to say that moments later, pandemonium broke out and the following 150 seconds will stay with me for the rest of my life. It all started with an urgent call which jammed everyone into gear! "Everyone get on this bird" closely followed by "FEAS PETREL".....

I was soon locked onto it through the bins and watched it approach. OMG, the reason for my extended quest was hurtling towards me! I could pick out the head and upperwing pattern and set about trying to capture a few images, this was suddenly a real pressure situation!!

It was flying really fast, one second over the water...

and then looping upwards!

I was luckily on the 'connecting' side of the boat as the Fea's came closer, breaking the horizon and giving amazing views. Suddenly my side of the boat was packed solid, a few expletives / wows broke the electric buzz of excitement as it gave a really close pass. I was now locked in a personal bubble of concentration.....

Coming ever closer and that monster bill was apparent in the viewfinder!

Banking to show off the grey / brown upperwing...

 It did a couple of circuits close to the boat - heart pounding now and willing the autofocus to keep locked on pleeeeease!! The action moved swiftly to the far side of the boat as the Fea's circled around, soon completing another full circle!

I then got a second chance, even closer - everyone now stood their ground and had views to die for!

Here's that botc moment I tweeted - we must all have been the closest anyone in the UK has been to a Fea's??

The above was posted tongue in cheek - but it was the closest it came! It is a frame filler....

However, close crops aren't everything! I have fond memories of other trips out to Sevenstones and couldn't believe it when a short series had the lightship in the frame - no GPS needed for this image!! An iconic view of such an iconic bird :-)

Eventually the Fea's headed off, the silence was now truly broken amid a flurry of fist pumping, handshaking and huddles over camera backs! There was a residual air of disbelief - did we really see what just happened??

There have been other Fea's off the Scilly Pelagics but never one to match the closeness, prolonged views and in reasonable light! Bob summed the moment up by declaring: "Guys, that's a moment you will never forget"! You bet we wont!!

There was just one regret... the many good friends fropm the previous weekend who sadly missed out - there will be other Fea's, just keep coming.....

Bob Flood's finders account appears here

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