"Behind the scenes" this is exactly what this posting is about. A brief history: The pelagic side of things began back July 2007.We ((Peter and Myself)spent 5 days in the channel between Corvo and Flores. We charterred high speed ribs, joined locals on their own fishing boats, trawled through vast flocks of Cory's to see if we could flush anything amongst them. The best it got huge numbers of Cory's, 10+ Great and a couple of Manx Shearwaters. Arctic and a summer plum Pomarine Skua. The same trip we got 31 Wilsons and 11 Bulwers Petrels on the Azores banc.In 2008 I Travelled alone and returned back out in July and this time I travelled by ferry to more islands such as Grciosa,Sao Jorge,Pico and Faial.I charterred a boat through a company called "Diving Graciosa" whose details and much more valuable information was supplied to me from a most helpful Magnus Robb.Graciosa produced over 30+ Madeiran type/"Band Rumped Petrels" in the form of the warm breeding species now described and known as Monterio's Petrel as well as the pair of Sooty Terns on the nearby islet. A weekend on Corvo the same trip involved another rib circumnavigating the Island with Patricia and Maria,2 seabird scientists I met along the way. A single early Little Shearwater and several Manx was the results. Another trip out on to the Azores Bank followed in the next few days but due to 2 metre waves and some considerable swell the trip was brought to an early close. 11 Wilsons was the end result although the change in chum techniques since 2007 proved worthwile with excellent close views of the Wilsons and 4 Blue Sharks attracted to the lure. Now back again in 2009 and supplied with liquid form Cod Liver oil and onion bags. Peter and myself were much more clued up with Chumming techniques and recipes. This involved the old classic of rotten fish in onion bags, Petrel liquer,and so called frozen blocks. We had the ingredients but also this time I had photos of the Marine charts that I had managed to get hold of on previous trips to the Azores whilst up on the bridge with the crew of the ferry services.I had spent time studying these maps and discoverred some new, unknown ((to Peter or myself)) bancs, these underwater sea-mounts were just what we were looking for.Peter and myself looked at all the relevant areas and decided to try out 2 new areas.Princess Alice Banc off of Pico and Formigas Banc off of Santa Maria as well as a re-visit to the Azores Banc. Marine chart showing the area arond Terceira and Sao Jorge, part of the central group of islands.
Marine chart showing the area around Corvo and Flores. The Western group of Islands.
Marine chart showing the area around, Sao Jorge, Pico and Faial. Also showing the area of underwater sea-mounts of both the Azores and Princess Alice Bancs.Part of the central group of islands.
Marine chart showing the area around Santa Maria and the area of Fomigas banc,sitiuated nearly half way between Santa Maria and Sao Miguel.Part of the Eastern Grup of Islands.
The lighthouse and rocks of Formigas banc, Santa Maria. The area didn't produce with what we were expecting and hoping for, however Dolphins were numerous and it was returning from here that we did get our 2nd Fea's Petrel of the trip.
Small part of the ingredients for our 3 chum techniques.
Preparing the freezer blocks, not quite what we had in mind.
Tuna oil, cod liver oil and fish juices added to the freezer blocks.
Peter taking it easy breaking down whole Sardines in to small pieces for the chum bags, on the balcony of Maria's flat,Faial over looking the channel with Pico in the background. Scanning on the way out from Faial to Priness Alice banc. Now time to put all the ingredients and recipes in to the test. The beauty with pelagics is that you also get the chance to get up close and personal with other marine such as these Bottle Nosed Dolphins. I always feel priviledged when I encounter Dolphins.
This Loggerhead Turtle was a welcome surprise with 3-4 seen throughout the Pelagics.This Blue Shark was one of four encounterred on our Pelagics.Attracted by the smell of the chum bags in the water the temptation was too much for this individual who attacked the chum bag and took all the contents of the rotten Sardines inside. Great Shearwaters are always nice to see and small numbers were seen in amongst the large Rafts of Cory's. Always worth a photo I guess. This photo shows a small part of a flock of between 70-80Wilsons Petrels at Princess Alice Banc. These birds responded instantly to our new chum liquer and they really are a beautiful bird when seen well,walking on the water with their wings raised,gently fluttering like large Butterflies. This count is now the highest record for the Azores and also the highest count in Europe. Feas Petrel, Santa Maria. Photo (Peter). This bird was a most wanted hit. This was the second of the trip but the first which we saw 5 miles north of Faial was all to distant and brief,Peter picked it up and I got on to it as it broke the skyline giving an all to brief view of the jizz the dark underwing. This the 2nd bird showed well but brief as it flew up off of the water, flushed by our approaching boat whilst we was returning from Formigas Banc. Albeit a bit of a mad scrammble from myself as I was sitting at the front of the boat, I managed to get the skipper to stop allowing Peter to get this good record shot. I have wanted to Fea's Petrel for quite some time now but seeing one in Azorean waters was much more what I wnated rather than going to Madeira or else where. This is my first species of Pterodroma. I really would like to see more Fea's in Azorean waters, they just leave you wanting more...... "Ghosts of the Ocean"
Friday, 13 November 2009
Back in the quarry, This juv Long Billed Dowitcher was new in. The quarry held 2 juv Long Billed Dowitchers in October. The resident Semi P Plover was present as well as 2 new Semi P plovers, Spotted Sandpiper, White Rumped Sandpiper.Short Billed Dowitcher used to be the more regular Dowitcher out of the 2 but in recent years that seems to have changed and now Long Billed seems to be the more regular. I still have not seen Short Biled Dowitcher any where in the world so it is one Id like to see out on the Azores.
This is 4 of 5 Juvenile Pectoral Sandpipers and they were just cracking.I have always liked Pec Sands especially Juvs. My first ever Pec Sand was an adult bird at Cley, Norfolk in June 1990. I Can't remember exactly how many I have seen off of the top of my head but I do know I have seen 5 in the true Thames complex,with 1 at Cliffe Pools,Kent July 1994,2 at Rainham,Essex and 2 at the old patch of Vange Marsh,Essex,September 94 and 05. The higest count I have had is this group of 5 in the quarry. This Juvenile Pec Sand in the photo above was one of the true Thames complex birds at Vange Marsh, Essex,10th Sepetember 05. (Photo: Steve Arlow)