Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Lucky thirteen

When I went on my first Scilly pelagics in 2013 with Bob Flood and Joe Pender on the Sapphire, seeing Cory's Shearwater, and photographing one well, was one of the things I was hoping for most. Ten trips later and I had yet to see one, let along photograph one - not that I'm complaining, having seen many other spectacular birds and other marine wildlife on these trips. Cory's Shearwater, named after an American ornithologist, is a large tubenose which breeds in the Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic but passes through our waters at this time of year, and with reports of 250+ in a feeding frenzy the day before my arrival on Scilly, hopes were high for a close encounter.

While two individuals lumbered past distantly in the fading light of Friday 4th, on Saturday 5th we again drew a blank with this species despite spending 7 hours at sea. Sunday 6th would be my thirteenth pelagic, and my last opportunity this year to get close to my target species. As we headed south out of St Mary's, I saw a huge Gannet feeding frenzy some distance off to the west. This was enough to persuade skipper Joe Pender to head in that direction, and soon enough Cory's started appearing around the boat. For the next hour or so we were treated to close views as birds came in to check the chum slick emanating from our stern.

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