Saturday, March 24, 2018

South America, Day 10 - 26 Feb 2018

26 Feb 2018 – At Sea

Both Robin and I are dealing with drainage and possible colds, so the warm, humid sea is just the ticket. The waters are relatively calm but no birds are in sight.

It wouldn’t be until after 8 am that I started seeing the first of numerous Nazca Boobies appearing on the horizon, then working their way toward the front of the ship. Several birds came in close enough to photograph, including one individual that appeared about 30’ away from me as I stood on the port side of the ship near the bow.

As I attempted to photograph the birds over the water I had to underexpose by 2 full f-stops in order to preserve the highlights on the all-white birds. I needed to see the black at the base of their yellowish bills to confirm ID, and underexposing produced perfect exposures.

As I followed several birds I began to spot dark storm-petrels with white rumps. They also showed some semblance of forked tails, which are key for both Band-rumps and Leaches, but the white tends to creep up onto the flanks more on Leach’s, which are more common in this region. Wilson's Storm Petrels are also common in this area, as well, and could be candidates. I'm leaning toward Wilson's Storm Petrel based on region and limited white on base of rump. I'm open to correction...

Thanks to our cabin steward Laido, Robin and I were kicked out of our cabin at about 11:15 am. We headed down to mid-ship, and I was just starting to type this blog when I spotted several dark shearwaters just off from the ship. I grabbed the camera and ran out onto the deck and proceeded to photograph a dozen or so Sooty Shearwaters (left) and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters*

*-Originally ID'd as Galapagos Shearwaters but corrected by eBird reviewer.

Sooty Shearwater

Wedge-tailed Shearwater
Note the wedge-shaped tails on these birds. Otherwise they are very similar to the Galapagos and Audubon's Shearwaters.

I happened to be in the right spot as I met up w/ Ron, who I met on day 1. We chatted for several minutes about the birds on this trip as several more shearwaters floated right alongside our ship. Among them was 1 or 2 Sooty Shearwaters that gave gorgeous looks and (hopefully) photos. The dark brown shearwaters appeared slightly overexposed when I adjusted the camera back to -0.7  so I had to switch back to -2.0 exp comp. 

After lunch and a short nap I decided to run back down to the promenade to look for birds. The sun was on our side of the ship and it was hot on the balcony, so I went for the other side. There, I found a pair of Nazca Boobies and 3 Brown Boobies soaring at the bow of the ship and diving after flying fish. 


Brown Booby
Once the Nazca Boobies drifted off I concentrated on the Brown Boobies.

The birds were riding the trade winds and soaring most of the time, but would start chattering when a fish would appear. Then, it was everyone for themselves as they dove after the surfacing fish. I even managed to get a few flying fish in the action!

Then, I noticed one all-brown booby flying along the ship that appeared more frigate-like. Red-footed Booby! I could even see its red legs as it flew past and joined up with the Brown Boobies (and their yellow legs). It was a nice opportunity to compare the body shapes and wing shapes of the two, with the Red-footed Booby appearing slightly longer and more slender. Red-footed Boobies are known to range in color from all-brown (here in the Galapagos region) to white, so it was a nice find.

A few more Wedge-tailed Shearwaters would appear but none close enough for photos. 

Tomorrow we arrive in Costa Rica!

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