Thursday, May 16, 2019

Rough seas

May 9
I got up extra early this morning to do a deck search to see if I could find any passerines that had landed on board. As soon as I got to the doors, I knew this wasn't likely to happen. The wind was blowing so hard that I could barely get a door open, and once I did,  up on the sundeck, the wicker chairs were being blown all over the place. It didn't look too safe to be out on deck up top. I went to our typical spot on Deck 7, where the crew we're already cleaning the ship, even though it was just 3:30 in the morning, and it was just about as windy there.  I might have to stay up all night if I want to check for wayward birds.

So up at 3:30, with no place to go, I headed for the Spinnaker Lounge on Deck 13 and made the best use of the extra awake hours to update my blog.  Between standing out on the deck most of the day, with breaks for eating and napping (this ship is very comfortable for napping!), there hasn’t been much time for writing. I stationed myself at the bow windows in a comfy chair and prepared for a very different morning of birding.

My view from Deck 12 (Spinnakers)

Once the sun came out, it was possible start seeing some of the larger birds like albatross and fulmars quite easily through the rain-spotted glass. There would be no opportunities for pictures for me from inside, but it sure was a lot more comfortable than being outside. Apparently, I'm a wimp, because on Deck 7, Christian, Michael, Rob and one or two brave others were standing watch at first light.

Today could be labeled as fulmar and puffin day. There were still some shearwaters around, but in much smaller numbers, and the fulmars were definitely the stars of the day. Deck 7 was officially closed due to the weather, but that didn’t stop us. A few diehard birders (and some determined walkers) took turns counting for an hour and then retreating into the warmth and food inside. We didn't get as comprehensive a list of birds today as we have on other days when we've been outside virtually the whole time, but we certainly gave it our best shot.
No scopes for these weather conditions!

The wind blew hard all day and it was very cold out on the deck. Periodically, we could hear a loud thump as the ship hit a hollow and then a blast of spray would come up in front of us. The spray never got quite as high as Deck 7, except for this one time. There were about 4 of us standing on the deck commenting about this thump and splash sequence, when there was an exceptionally large thump, and then as you might expect, a very large wave that reached all the way to Deck 8. I mentioned that we were on Deck 7, right? We watched as the wave started to fall, disintegrating right in front of us and cascaded onto Deck 7 hitting all of us. It didn't have any strength but it definitely had a lot of water!

Since I wasn't out all day, I will need to review the eBird lists myself to know all the birds that were seen, but I do know that in under 1 hour close to dinner time, the group that we're on deck counted more than 1900 Northern Fulmars! While I was safely inside looking out the windows I saw a huge numbers passing on the other side of the ship, so this was likely a day when we were seeing at least a few thousand fulmars an hour passing for a short time.
Northern Fulmar

Kittiwakes have now joined the list of birds we are having some trouble with ID. We know there is potential for Red-legged Kittiwakes here, and some of the birds we’ve seen seem to match the right plumage, but the photographs actually show black legs on some of the birds that we thought were Red-legged. Back to the drawing board.

The pace of Tufted Puffins, yesterday at only a few an hour, has definitely picked up. We are also seeing a good number of small alcids, but frustratingly too far away for certain identification.
On a side note, I have being dictating the latest blog posts into my phone to give me a head start when I can actually sit down and type them up. Let's just say that voice to text isn't working as well as it normally does. Not only does it get virtually every bird name wrong, it's coming up with some really imaginative interpretations of what I am saying. I'm not even sure that I will be able to translate back to what I originally said!

We arrive in Petropavlovsk before dawn, sadly missing seeing the coast yet again.

1 comment:

  1. wow 1900 fulmars... incredible sure hoping your photos turn up a red-legged kittiwake!