Saturday, 7 November 2009

Some Antarctic Beauties

With a total lack of subject matter today, I'll have to resort to the archives again for photographic value.

Southern Fulmar, for me one of the absolute 'stars' of the Antarctica trip during the last couple of weeks of 2007 and the first of 2008. Dinky and seemingly more sleek than its Northern cousin, the shades and wing patterns somehow just did it for me.

The confiding and ever present Snowy Sheathbill is, by a long way, the least favorite of the deck crews who ply these waters. The main component of their staple diet are Seal faeces and they are not slow in depositing their own on paint and varnish work and everywhere else for that matter. I was hoping to get close enough to take a photograph!

Nicely camouflaged in the snow

but not on the deck of a cruise ship

and pretty deft on the wing as well

Radipole was all but devoid of birds except for the usual suspects, even Med Gull numbers were down to single figures today. There is an early high water being 'springs' and all so bypassed Ferry Bridge, but found the Bill area equally bleak. On the way to the Obs, and a cup of coffee, there was literally nothing of note, but some great banter with Ed Welland put that to rights. Returning via Culverwell and the Top Fields I had hope of an encounter with the Barn Owl of recent days, but even that was not to be. However, bonus came by way of a startled Merlin which flushed from cover, and on the way to Sweethill there were 7 each of Song Thrush and Pied Wagtail, a single Stonechat and Common Buzzard and several Skylark. As I passed FB on the bus a decent number, probably 400, Brent had arrived to take up feeding station, but that was it.

Seemingly shy, Snow Petrels in the main were only seen at great distance. Luckily there is usually an exception to the rules and this individual was just that.

The Snow Petrel is the only member of the genus Pagodroma. It is one of only three birds that breed exclusively in Antarctica and has been seen at the South Pole. It has the most southerly breeding distribution of any bird.

Who could fail to love this little gem?

Before I reached home I did receive a phone call fro another of my ex-bosses, Les Evans, to tell me of the arrival of his first grandchild, a boy. Les and I go back a good way and since my departure he, and his family wife Dolina and children Abigale and Thomas, have stayed in touch. During my usual April week in Scotland this year I paid them a visit, and as I was able to stay over we enjoyed an excellent meal out with a group of mutual friends.