Monday, March 12, 2018

Inca Terns! - 20 Feb 2018

Arica, Chile – 20 Feb 2018

We arrived in port at about 6:30 am. It was still dark outside, so Robin and I headed off to breakfast up on Deck 11. We would not need to be ready to leave the ship until 9:30 am, so I had a bit of time to check the port.

As light made its way into the port a look outside the balcony revealed the dock side of the port. But, we had a view of the ocean just beyond, and I could make out a steady stream of birds flying along the shoreline. Inca Terns!  For the next 2 hours several thousand Inca Terns streamed past our balcony just 100 yds away. They headed toward the back of the ship for parts unknown. Until I decided to take a walk.

I had an hour and a half to kill so I grabbed the bins and headed down to mid-ship to check out the view on the other side. The port side of the ship held hundreds of fishing boats, and it turned out that many of the Inca Terns, and hundreds of Franklin’s Gulls, were flying into the port to roost. As I reached the back of the ship the tie lines were covered with Inca Terns! They were 20-30 feet below me and begging for some photographic attention. So, I ran back to the room to grab the scope and digiscoping equipment, and ran back down to the back of the ship where I spent the next 30 minutes digiscoping the birds at point blank range. If I don’t see another bird in the next week and half I’ll still call this trip a success!

The Franklin’s Gulls were roosting on the dock and feeding on waste seed and horse manure(?) that was left in a pile. It was cool to see several birds sporting rosy-colored breast feathers.

Next stop: Cusco, Chile.

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