Nov. 27, 2002
Had a brilliant time in Bermuda - spent the whole month
birding. 119 species seen during my stay with White Pelican
being a first for Bermuda! Highlights for me included : Yellow-throated
Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Swainson's Warbler, Prothonotary
Warbler, Long-eared Owl, a Merlin hawking insects on the
wing and to cap off a brilliant time, going out to one of
the breeding islands of the extremely rare Cahow, or Bermuda
Petrel. This bird was thought extinct for over 300 years
and was rediscovered in 1957 by Robert Cushman Murphy. Initially
there were 26 pairs, but due to conservation efforts on the
island, there are now 65 pairs breeding. We went out to check
birds returning to their nesting burrows to reinforce pair
bonding or find new mates. Several pairs were in attendance
with some single birds. They normally start egg laying in
January, but come ashore in late October / early November
to pair up pre-breeding. When I was three to five years old,
I had a World Wildlife chart of endangered animals in which
you had to collect cards with various species depicted. Cahow
was one of them and it has been one of my life's ambitions
to see one - an absolutely fabulous experience which only
a handful of people have witnessed.
I left Bermuda on the 19th Nov, arrived in the UK on the
20th and flew to Ascension Island on the 21st!!! We were
due to fly to the Falkland Islands the same day, but the
plane developed a fault with a fuel guage, so we spent two
nights on the Island - an opportunity to see Ascension Frigatebird,
an endemic species which is also rather rare! We left Ascension
on the 24th at 3:30am and flew to the Falklands where we
were driven 50 miles to Stanley and direct onto the Dash
7 - the British Antarctic Survey's plane, where we took off
immediately for Rothera. Five and a half hours later we landed
here - I bet there's not many people who have stood on the
Equator and Antarctica in the same day!
Needless to say, I'm still a bit jet lagged, but we have
started work - digging out snow to clear the site for the
new laboratory and doing odd jobs. The ship with all our
tools and materials on board is due in next week sometime,
so the real work will start then.
The weather is glorious - clear blue skies and bright sunshine,
with the temperature around the -3 deg. centigrade mark. The only
wildlife here at the moment is as follows:
A handfull of Weddell seals out on the sea ice, three Antarctic
Skuas and five South Polar Skuas, one Snow Petrel, two Antarctic
Terns, three Kelp Gulls and twenty-six Blue-eyed Shags!!
I wonder if I will make it into double figures for the number
of species seen by the time I'm due to leave here next April?
I'll keep you posted!
Regards to all in the bird club, If anyone wants to e-mail, I will
be glad to hear from them. Just remind them to put PERSONAL in
the subject box.
Must dash, I'm off birding for the evening - we have 24
hours of daylight so I should see something!
Dutchess County, NY