Monday, 17 November 2014

Bouncing beans!

Day 3 of weather standby and things are somewhat tedious. The wind had been a relentless Beaufort F8 generally from the SE but last night it slowly backed around to the east and increased to severe gale F9. This morning I was greeted with F8 conditions once gain- 5-6 metre seas with occasional big swell trains of 7-8 metres. The relentless easterly was averaging 36 knots according to the ships' instrumentation. Late morning and I saw three 'grey' geese flying across the waves and battling against the wind. As they flew alongside the bridge I took a quick fuzzy snap through the bridge window and realised they were Bean geese! A good record. I'll readily admit to having limited experience of bean geese- but having studied the photos. the small orange bill patch, relatively short, deep-based bill and relatively short-necked appearance had me thinking that they were the tundra race 'rossicus'. All exciting stuff and I watched them battle eastwards until they were lost from view. Some 20 minutes later the 3 birds came back down wind, circled the vessel, then made a very difficult and somewhat dangerous landing on the main deck. This was no mean feat in gale force winds and heavy seas! Two of the geese clattered into some gear on the deck and it was apparent that they were surprised by the heavy motion of the ship and the slippery nature of the deck. All 3 individuals appeared unscathed and after carefully checking their surroundings in that all too familiar nervous goose fashion they set about checking their feet- lifting each foot in turn and checking the webs with their bills. This was followed by a brief spell of flight feather preening before all three birds got their heads down and started sleeping. I'm sure they must be very tired from battling the gales during their migration. 

I had some concerns about their abilities to subsequently take off as the ship is a jungle of masts, wires and railings. However, late this afternoon the birds launched themselves into the air and flew off into the wind. Two minutes later they re-landed on the deck and as I write they appear to be settling down for a night on deck! Hopefully they will resume their migration as soon as the conditions improve.

time for a snooze!
rough seas and heavy swell

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