Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Bermuda 21 & 22/11/11

by Bob Flood

Yesterday 21st November David Wingate and I went seawatching at Cooper's Point, where we saw at least three Bermuda Petrels. On the way to the Point David Showed me the rock where he and Robert Cushman Murphy rediscovered the Bermuda Petrel in 1951. At that time it had been considered extinct since the 1600s. We also saw the few other rocks where Bermuda Petrel breeds.

David Wingate and some rocky islets near Castle Harbour

Many rocky islets are highly vulnerable to hurricane damage
This morning David took me to Nonsuch Island. It was virtually a barren rock until David's
brilliant scheme to turn it into a living museum, by planting native trees, shrubs, grasses etc to create a pre-colonial habitat. This project has taken many years. He hand planted nearly every tree and shrub on the island. Nonsuch is the island to which Jeremy Madeiros translocated Bermuda Petrel chicks each year 2004-2008, with over 20 of the 105 translocated chicks returning prior to 2011. A number of these have paired and laid eggs on Nonsuch, with six chicks fledged, the first to fledge on Nonsuch since about 1620. At the moment they use artificial burrows, but the hope is that they will once again breed in native woodland created on Nonsuch.

Nonsuch Island

We also steamed around the mouth of Castle Harbour looking at the very few rocks/islets where Bermuda Petrel bred, until the translocation program. What a tenuous hold this Pterodroma has, still critically endangered and far from safe from extinction.

Rocky islets in Castle Harbour

Rocky islets in Castle Harbour
Hadoram Shirihai and I planned the Bermuda trip over several months and he arrived yesterday. He turned up for today's pelagic trip somewhat jetlagged. The weather was calm, so we steamed further out than usual, then deployed chum. We were pleased with a reasonable view of Bermuda Petrel. The locals, Andrew Dobson and David, were ecstatic with Cory's (borealis) and Great Shearwaters, and went ballistic when a Leach's Storm-petrel spent about 10 minutes showing off around the boat.

Bob Flood, left, with Andrew Dobson centre and Hadoram Shirihai, right

More trips planned this week.