Monday, 5 October 2009

Another Sagres pelagic trip

Pelagic trips from Sagres with Mar Ilimitado have become a feature of autumn here in the Algarve and are something to which we look forward. Yesterday's three hours or so aboard Ricardo Silva's boat, Kogia, were particularly enjoyable as the sea was flat calm and the sky almost cloudless, a marked contrast to some pelagic trips we've been on!

Ricardo specialises in dolphin-watching trips so it was no surprise that Common Dolphins were the first species that we came upon. This one was photographed while it was completely submerged, just alongside the boat.

We hoped to find a fishing boat that was already attracting seabirds, perhaps including storm-petrels and shearwaters but the only boat we saw had only Northern Gannets and gulls in attendance.

Northern Gannet

Yellow-legged Gull

Later we did see a couple of Sooty Shearwaters, a few Balearic Shearwaters and 50 or more Cory's Shearwaters but for a while we had to be content to watch Gannets and it was a chance to put the new Canon 50D through its paces.

Several European Storm-petrels and a Wilson's Storm-petrel were seen but none came very close and they presented a much more difficult subject. Great Skuas were impossibly distant to photograph.

European Storm-petrel

All of the day's gulls were Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed except for this lone Mediterranean Gull.

For us this was a new view of the lighthouse at Cape St Vincent, the south-westerly tip of mainland Europe.

We probably didn't go more than about 10 miles from land all morning but the only time we found shearwaters in any numbers they were quite close to the shore. These two were amongst a raft of 50 or so Cory's Shearwaters that included one bird identified as being of the slightly smaller Mediterranean race known as Scopoli's Shearwater.

When we were about one kilometre of the tip of the peninsula and intent on looking for shearwaters, it was a surprise to see flying overhead five Booted Eagles and a Honey-buzzard. Going in a south-westerly direction, these birds presumably thought they were heading for Africa. Let's hope it wasn't too long before they realised their mistake!

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