31 Mar 2018

31 Mar 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Three: At Sea From Ushuaia To South Georgia

I was out on deck earlier this morning as I had seen the ship's doc & switched to a seasickness patch. This had the advantage of providing a steady dose of the anti-seasickness drug lasting three days, rather than having to take a tablet when I woke up & then doze for some time to allow the tablet to kick in. The only downsides were ensuring I didn't lose the patch in the shower & I no longer had an excuse for a lie-in. The rear of the fourth deck 4 was busy with Seabirds as usual, but several Skuas had come & gone, including a South Polar Skua: the only Skua I still needed.
Brown Skua: This Brown Skua wasn't as substitute for a South Polar Skua. Brown Skuas are heavier & more uniform in colouration compared to Chilean Skuas, which are a bit lighter built (whilst still a large Skua) & have a capped appearance which contrasts with a rusty face, breast & underparts (see the Chilean Skua photo from the Beagle Channel)
Brown Skua: Brown Skua taxonomy is another tricky area with 3 subspecies recognised by Clements: Falklands (antarticus) which occurs in Patagonia, Falklands & South Georgia, Subantarctic (lonbergi) which is predominately around the New Zealand Subantarctic Islands & Tristan (hamiltoni) which occurs in the Tristan Da Cunha and Gough Islands. The subspecies are not easy to separate, but on range this would be expected to be a Falklands Brown Skua
Apart from the Skuas, the day was largely a set of similar species to those seen on the previous day. However, the Storm-petrels had changed with the first Wilson's and Black-bellied Storm-petrels putting in an appearance, along with Subantarctic Little Shearwaters & my first Atlantic Petrels.
Wandering Albatross: Subadult Snowy. Adults have more white in the inner wing & the black is restricted to the central tail feathers
Wandering Albatross: Subadult Snowy. The underwing of the same near individual
Wandering Albatross: Subadult Snowy. The brown in the cap & the reduced extend of white in the wing suggests this is a younger individual than the last individual
Wandering Albatross: Subadult Snowy. Another photo of the last individual
Soft-plumaged Petrel
Soft-plumaged Petrel: I like this atmospheric photo
Antarctic Prion
Antarctic Prion: The same individual
Grey Petrel: An overexposed photo of a Grey Petrel. I was finding it hard to get the exposure correct for the pale Prions & Petrels. Eventually, I was advised to change the camera to spot metering on the subject, rather than the whole image & this helped. One of the advantages of the Odyssey was being able to talk to a number of different photographers & pick up improvements to my camera settings
White-chinned Petrel
Subantarctic Little Shearwater: The Southern Ocean Subantarctic Little Shearwater is now split from Boyd's Little Shearwater & Baroli's Little Shearwaters of the North Atlantic, as well as, the recently split Little Shearwater of Northern New Zealand and Norfolk & Lord Howe Islands
Subantarctic Little Shearwater: They have blue-greyish upperparts compared to the black upperparts of the North Atlantic species
Subantarctic Little Shearwater: This is presumed to be the widespread elegans subspecies, which breeds on Tristan Da Cunha & Gough Island, as well as, the New Zealand Subantarctic Islands. It has been recently split from the other subspecies which breed in islands off parts of New Zealand's North Island (haurakiensis), the Kermadec Islands (kermadecensis), Norfolk & Lord Howe Islands (assimilis) & off South West Australia (tunneyi) and are known as Little Shearwater
Black-bellied Storm-petrel: This is the nominate tropica subspecies which breeds on Subantarctic islands throughout the colder Southern Oceans
Black-bellied Storm-petrel: One of the great things about the Odyssey was having Bob Flood on board who is one of the leading Seabird experts. Bob gave a superb talk on the Odyssey on separating Black-bellied Storm-petrels from White-bellied Storm-petrels. This is far from straight-forward as some Black-bellied populations can have white-bellies (there is more to come on this subject as we get into the Tropics)
Black-bellied Storm-petrel: All the six individuals photographed today were all straight-forward to identify as they had clearly visible black-bellies. This wasn't the case as we headed into the Tropics
Black-bellied Storm-petrel
Black-bellied Storm-petrel