For those who don’t know (and possibly don’t care) a pelagic involves travelling for hours in a small boat, miles out to sea, throwing disgustingly smelly bits of fish overboard, and waiting to see what sea birds turn up! It’s the only way to see many of the deep ocean birds and off the continental shelf of Chile is one of the tops sites for it. And so it was, that on Sunday 28th October, we joined guide Franco, his captain and crew, and headed off from Quintero for a day on the pacific ocean…and what a day it turned out to be! In simple statistical terms we saw four species of Albatross, two Shearwaters, seven petrel type species and a number of other maritime species – in terms of the experience, it was simply phenomenal! By the time we reached the shelf , where the cold Humboldt current brings ‘rich pickings’ to the surface, the sheer number of birds was overwhelming. The vast majority were Sooty Shearwaters but close examination, by our very experienced guide (veteran of more than 250 pelagics), produced a succession of new species. After six hours on the water, on the way back to harbour, our day was topped by a close encounter with a Minke whale and calf!
Some pictures, which fail to capture the experience adequately, follow:
Franco with Joe and Sue, running through the finer points of grey headed Albatross identification..
A poor attempt to capture the sheer volume of birds involved….mostly Sooty Shearwater
and now in close-up
A nice shot of the similar but larger, White-chinned Petrel
A Westland’s petrel – distinguished from the previous species by smaller size and a dark bill tip
Possibly my personal favourite of the pelagic species, a Cape Petrel
Frequent throughout the day, Peruvian Pelican
The commonest of the albatross sp., a Black-browed
…and now eating some of our scrummy ‘chum’
with a wing span of nearly twelve feet…a Royal Albatross
…and finally, an unexpected ‘close encounter’ with another whale species, this time Minke (with calf)