Thursday, 24 November 2011

Bermuda 22 & 23/11/11

by Bob Flood

Three men in a boat - Hadoram Shirihai, Bob Flood and David Wingate

Pelagics out of Bermuda on 22nd and 23rd November were a bit frustrating. On the 22nd we went out 10 miles, much further than trips normally go and so it was experimental, but the results were not great with one or two Bermuda Petrels about 3 pm that gave reasonable views but nothing spectacular. On the 23rd, yesterday, we copied the location and chumming techniques from our most successful trip last week (wind direction identical too), but were unlucky with 3 birds hanging around for about an hour two miles off our drift line. As it became dusky with not enough light for photography, a Bermuda Petrel flew around our boat for several minutes - the views were great, but it was frustrating not to capture some of the event on film. The fact of the matter is that Bermuda Petrel is damned rare and it is very hard to catch up with them, even off the breeding grounds in Bermuda.

I made my final trip to Nonsuch yesterday morning for a last look at the colony and to watch Jeremy check the bands on a few birds as part of his research. A man-eating petrel bit Jeremy on the cheek, causing him much agony and drawing blood, to which I couldn't help laughing out loud - sorry Jeremy. Took more video of the head but it is very difficult because they keep twisting their necks like Wrynecks. Obviously the birds cannot be kept out of the burrows for very long, so I abandoned my effort. I also made a nice video interview with Jeremy and this, with footage of Nonsuch and research at the burrows of the petrels, will be the basis of a mini-documentary on the DVDs in our next guide 'Pterodromas'. David Wingate will recount his involvement in the rediscovery and conservation - the piece will be named 'Saving the Bermuda Petrel'. We hope to do a similar piece with Frank Zino called 'Saving the Zino's Petrel'.

Nonsuch site of colony
Man-eating Cahow under control - check blood on cheek