2 May 2018

2 May 18 - West African Pelagic - Day Two: At Sea Between Cape Verde & The Canary Islands

The wind speed had dropped a few knots overnight, but it was still blowing around 25 knots from the North East & it was cool on deck, if you couldn't get out of the wind. On relatively calm days, I would try to stand on the bridge wing with the best light & generally swap sides at lunchtime, as the sun moved round. But on the windy days, it was sometimes better to accept poorer light, if the side with the better light was wind-blasted & it wasn't possible to find a position to look forward, whilst keeping out of the wind.
The seas were still choppy: Which made it harder to pick up Seabirds & Cetaceans
We were over the deep seas with sea depths between four to five kms. In these deep seas, the numbers of Seabirds drop off considerably in Tropical & Subtropical waters. In total, I only saw just over forty Birds during the day, with a few Bulwer's Petrels, singles of Cape Verde Shearwater & Cory's Shearwater, a Red-billed Tropicbird & a couple of Arctic Terns. I also saw a couple of unexpected species: a lone Swallow & 3 distant small Waders which were probably Phalaropes. At least twenty five Leach's Storm-petrels made up the bulk of the numbers seen during the day. I photographed as many of the Storm-petrels as I could & all turned out to be Leach's Storm-petrels. I did see a couple of others that I didn't get to photograph which ended up in the notes as unidentified Storm-petrels.
Leach's Storm-petrel
Leach's Storm-petrel: Another photo of the same individual
Leach's Storm-petrel Another photo of the same individual
Leach's Storm-petrel: A second individual showing the variation in the rump markings
Red-billed Tropicbird: I never tire of seeing Tropicbirds
The Cetaceans proved to be the highlights of the day with a couple of distant Short-finned Pilot Whales & around fifteen Striped Dolphins. The Striped Dolphins didn't hang around, but did perform well as they moved past the Plancius.
Striped Dolphin
Striped Dolphin: I like the way the middle individual emerges upside down
Striped Dolphin
Striped Dolphin