A Report Back by Anders Peltomaa.
Extract from an email from Anders to Niall Perrins.
Thanks for sharing your photos, David (Allan). You got some great flight shots.
Thanks to all for making it a terrific day. It was my first pelagic trip out of South Africa and I saw many lifers.
I did a little write-up of the day for my friends back home in New York. Many of them were out on a pelagic trip out of Freeport, NY. It’s a long haul out to the good waters in New York state. The Hudson Canyon is around 90-110 nautical miles from the shore and it takes about 5 hours of good motoring to reach it. They didn’t see anything unexpected, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Iceland Gulls and good numbers of alcids: Common Murre, Dovekie and Razorbills. Nothing I feel bad about having missed or getting rubbed in. Our trip was much better, and my best birding buddy commented: “I hate you!” Guess what will be on his Xmas card this year?
On Saturday, 10 January 2015, I went on a pelagic trip out of Durban, South Africa. My alarm rang at 4:10am. It was around 20 degrees warm outside and the forecast was for a mostly sunny day. So I dressed in T-shirt, shorts and sandals thinking that I’d be ok like that. Turned out that the sandals really were unnecessary. You gotta love the Austral summer, back home in New York it was around -20 degrees.
We sailed out from Wilson’s Wharf shortly before 6am on a very nice fishing boat named “isiHuhwa” (which is the Zulu name for Crowned Eagle) with Captain John at the helm and reached the shelf drop off after an hour and a half. The first batch of chum was taken out of the coolers and dumped in the sea and it was interesting to see, because the method of chumming was new to me. Later in the day David Allan told me that this was Hadoram Shirihai’s method (since I read a bit about seabirding, I thought this is going to bring in some good birds).
But, things were a bit slow after the first batch of chum went into the water. Maybe it wasn’t windy enough to spread the yummy smell to the tubenoses? So, I thought that if I stop scanning the sky and horizon and go to the loo something good could fly in, because that had worked in the past. For instance on the August, 2014 pelagic in New York. Yes, I was taking a leak when the Fea’s Petrel flew in. You’re welcome! (and I did get out in a hurry to get one of the bird.)
Low and behold! Within minutes a Sabine’s Gull flew in to our developing chum slick. This was a lifer for many on board and the first Sabine’s Gull on a Durban pelagic for even the veterans. Hearts, feelings and cameras started heating up. Next in to our slick flew a Long-tailed Jaeger, which was another “first” for many birders.
The Grand Prize Bird was still to come, though.
A bird kinda-looking like a Gannet flew in, over the boat and away never to return, but eyes got on it and cameras captured images. Was it? The leaders checked their cameras’ LCD displays and it was. A RED-FOOTED BOOBY!
It was another lifer many birders, including me. What a day on the sea!
To finish the day I spotted a large raptor over the Durban Bayhead ridge, as we were getting back to the dock. With help from more knowledgeable birders it was identified as a Crowned Eagle! The name of our boat!
Click here to view a link to an album of some photos I took.
Click here to view photos taken by Niall Perrins which should be publicly viewable on his Facebook Page.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge and seabirds!