Friday, 7 August 2015

Red-billed tropicbird

I have not worked offshore Suriname for a couple of years so it is good to be back. I'm currently two weeks into the survey and although cetaceans and seabirds have been scarce I have racked up a few species including spinner dolphin, pantropical spotted dolphin, melon-headed whale, short-finned pilot whale, sperm whale and a few other distant animals that I couldn't identify. On the birding front I have seen red-billed tropic bird, pomarine skua, Audubon's shearwater, Cory's shearwater, sooty tern and a single Masked booby. Stowaways onboard have included a cattle egret and a least sandpiper. I have also seen billfish, sunfish, skipjack tuna and the wonderful flying fish that so often join me on my voyages in the tropics. 

Red-billed tropic birds are one of the highlights of sea watching for me, but as yet I have not managed to get decent photographs of the half dozen or so I have encountered over the years. The latest bird was typically cryptic- that may sound odd for a bright white seabird but they invariable cruise over the open ocean at anything between 50 and 150 metres above the sea surface so are often tricky to pick out against a tropical blue sky filled with intense sunlight and fluffy white clouds! Whilst concentrating on the shearwater action I glanced around and saw the bird as it had already passed over head and was flying away- at a distance of some 70+ metres, so I only managed a couple of record shots- very frustrating but hopefully I'll get another chance at this impressive species before too long!

red-billed tropicbird
red-billed tropicbird
melon-headed whale

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