|Western Gull at sunrise|
|Pacific Nature Tours|
The Pomarine Jaeger is a bulky tank with wings. The Long-tailed Jaeger(below) is as elegant as it is beautiful. But why isn't this a Parasitic Jaeger? Well it's duller in color, but that's not a good field mark to go by. The best field mark? We were able to see the tail which was flat and not pointed. This bird is also more tern-like in flight. It has a flight pattern similar to that of an Elegant Tern....slow with deep wing flaps. Observing the behavior was key here. The Parasitic and Long-tailed Jaegers can be difficult species to separate when they are in their basic plumage.
|2nd Year Long-tailed Jaeger|
|Parasitic Jaeger chasing a Common Tern|
There were a few birders on board who have seen most of the birds in the U.S. and only needed ONE special bird to complete that goofy artificially created American ABA list. They were looking for the endangered and rare, for the U.S. at least, Craveri's Murrelet. Our adventure would take a "tern" for the worse as a birder lost his balance and hit his head on a metal rail. He went out like a light! And I could hear groans from both sides as he went down....literally.
Unfortunately, according to the rumblings, this man did not plan well for the pelagic journey and forgot to take his diabetic medication. People went to help him and he did recover. The Coast Guard was called and we were ordered to return back to port. For the birders searching for the elusive Craveri's Murrelet, they lost their chance. There were a lot of angry birders. Some vocal. Some not. Who was more selfish? The birder who didn't plan well? Or the birders who paid good money to find a rare bird? I'll let you all be the judge. It is the price we pay when we all bird together in large groups. If it's one thing I've learned this year from Mexico and now this pelagic, it's that I prefer to bird with a small group of friends or alone. But sometimes you can't avoid the crowds...especially on a pelagic.
|Photo by Justyn Stahl|
|My action shots of this relatively small bird:)|
I am constantly in deep thought about this planet. Eventually my brain shuts down and my eyes give out. And so I just focused on the moment and art of the Western Gull. Lifebirds are challenging. When there aren't new birds to find, I just relax and enjoy the moment. That's when my art can happen.
We found so many species of dolphin and whale. On our trek we had migrating Blue and Humpback whales.
When all was said and done, we got back into our rental car and were glad to go back to our open spaces in Arizona.
I'm naturally claustrophobic but on our trek into California, I was reminded why I moved away from this state so many years ago. There were TOO MANY people. Everywhere.
Eventually someday, I will have to bird areas with even higher concentrations of people. I'm thinking Japan here. I'm a giant and I know how crammed their country can be:) Birding does not come without challenges. But again, that's what is exciting about it all.
It's fun getting old and cranky:) Life is good. This pelagic trek netted me several more life birds. I am now 4 short of 700. Where will the life bird adventure lead us now? Stay tuned for more.