Monday, March 19, 2018

South America, Day 8 - 24 Feb 2018

24 Feb 2018 – At Sea – Day of the Dolphin

This morning we are approaching Ecuador. At 8 am the ship is approximately just north of Isla Lobodos de Tierra and between La Trampa and Bayovar, Peru heading toward La Castia, Peru. Seas are calm and skies are clear. It’ll be a warm day when the sun comes around our side of the ship this afternoon.

The highlights of the morning were dolphins. Large pods were appearing out from the ship. The first large pod consisted of 200-300 dolphins that were porpoising out near the horizon. As I scoped them from the promenade many of the guests walking the ship stopped by to look through the scope.

Sooty Shearwaters (all-dark with dark bills) were moving this morning and flying mostly out in front of the ship.

I began seeing also several all-dark shearwaters with bright yellow bills: White-chinned Petrels! These birds have a yellow bill and an obscure white patch of feathers on the chin that are not easily seen. I managed to grab one image that shows the white patch!

Who says you can't digiscope from a moving boat?

The Peruvian Boobies that I’d been seeing since the beginning of the cruise have now been replaced with Blue-footed Boobies. They are easy to spot since their heads are not white, but dark gray, even if you can’t see their feet in flight.

Several white-headed albatrosses were spotted swimming and flying out from the ship. Since we are close to the Galapagos Islands these birds can be easily identified as Waved Albatross. I even managed to see the faint yellow wash along the back of the head and nape.



At 11 am I was back in my cabin and out on the balcony scoping birds. The previously-mentioned White-chinned Petrels and Sooty Shearwaters continued to appear in small flocks, while more of the Waved Albatrosses would be seen swimming on the water.

I started seeing tiny white specks flying just over the water and landing in groups of 3 – 6 birds. They swam upright and showed evidence of a dark patch extending out from the eyes. I believe these birds to be Red Phalaropes, which are common in this region and seen as far as 30 km from shore. 

What appeared to be a shallow shoal out ½ mile from the ship turned out to be a monster pod of ~400 dolphins churning up the water as they jumped continuously. The size of this pod must’ve extended over 1/3 mile. Dozens more were breaching just in front of the ship and just out from where I stood, and I managed to catch several dolphins as they leaped and slapped the water with their bodies.

Activity died down by early afternoon when I couldn’t see any more birds on the waters. At 11:30 am we were near La Bocana, Peru and approximately 250 miles to Manta, Ecuador. We are to arrive in port at 8 am.

I have scheduled a bird tour of the Isle de Corazon, or heart-shaped island near the Galapagos. Should be awesome!

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