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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Nerdy Birdy: Santa Barbra Pelagic Boat Adventure

I got to the hotel in Santa Barbra late last night and I should have gone straight to bed, I would after all have to get up at 5:00am, a wake up time that I am not incredibly thrilled with, instead however I proceeded to run a bath and chew all of my fingers to bloody stumps. You see I was a bit worried with the whole 13 hours on a boat in the middle of the ocean thing. I have been on boats before but those boats were mostly in lakes and the one time I was out on the ocean in a small boat it was for a short amount of time and I had control over when we could go home. This time I am going on a birding tour with 60 some odd other people and let’s just put it out there I did not want to spend 200 dollars to end up puking my guts out the whole trip, hence my worry and the now bloody stumps that are my fingers.

Although the bath helped to relax me a bit I still could not sleep for over an hour which gave me a little under 5 hours of sleep. When my alarm went off at the crack of dawn my first waking thought was how to inflict enough damage to my iPhone to make it stop making noise. You see the people at Apple are really smart/piss me off, the alarm on the iPhone actually requires me to open my eyes, find the little sliddy thing and move my finger across the screen. If you just randomly tap the screen all you do is hit the snooze and the whole cycle; me contemplating killing phone, smack phone, fall back asleep for four minutes ensues again.

I can see it now that upstart wanna be young twenty something with the bright idea to create this intricate system to shut off the alarm, excited in the fact that it was his IDEA to make it so difficult for all us little people. I wish I could smack him.

Anyways so I am up, I get a breakfast of plain oatmeal and plain wheat toast (bland but supposedly good for preventing motion sickness) and get to the landing. I am huddled in a herd of people happily gossiping about the trip when the captain speaks up and addresses us all. Seems the weather has changed and the ocean is going to MUCH rougher than the reports were saying last night. He thought about cancelling the trip but since we were all there and he thought he could get us to most of our destinations he was leaving it up to the group. People could either sign out and get their money back or go on the trip. For the people that went however he warned the seas were going to be VERY rough and that he was anticipating a lot of us getting sea sick. Of course because it was 5:00 in the morning, because I had driven two hours the previous night to get there, slept in a hotel and had been looking forward to this for a month I opted to go. I would like to say for the record that it was early, my judgement was impaired.

So we were off, fifteen people short and the first few hours were not that terrible. We saw a lot of great birds, birds that you cannot see on land but I learned quickly that taking photos on a boat is MUCH different to taking them on land. Needless to say almost none of my photos came out, most were not clear, I would liken it to pin the tail on the donkey. It was like someone blind folded me, spun me around three times and then handed me a camera and told me to get that photo of the bird. It was IMPOSSIBLE. With the waves, the water, the moving bird, the moving boat and issues with the whole balance thing nothing would stay still. Lesson learned.

I do adore being on the ocean though. The fresh air and the wide open skies appeals to my wandering spirit. And the landscapes from the boat were simply breathtaking.

050110_landscape

I did manage to get a few shots that are recognizable as the species even if they are blurry. With nine new birds to add to my list the 250 mile thirteen hour round trip boating nightmare was almost worth it.

050110_theTrip
A)WHERE I LIVE
B) WHERE THE BOAT LEFT FROM
C)OUR FINAL DESTINATION


For what it’s worth here are the best from the terrible lot of photos I took.

248_050110_blackTern
248.BLACK TERN

252_050110_pigeonGuillemot
252.PIGEON GUILLEMOT

60_050110_articLoon
60.ARTIC LOON

74_050110_blackFootedAlbatross
74.BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS

206_050110_redneckedPhalarope
206.RED-NECKED PHALAROPE

73_050110_laysanAlbatros
73.LAYSAN ALBATROSS

209_050110_pomarineJaeger
209.POMARINE JAEGER

231_050110_sabinesGull
231.SABINE’S GULL

207_050110_RedPhalarope
207.RED PHALAROPE

Birds that were not only list.

050110_pinkFootedSheerwater
PINK FOOTED SHEERWATER

050110_northernFulmar
NORTHER FULMAR

050110_ashyStormPetrel
ASHY STORM PETREL


And then of course that one bird that I cannot figure out, I think it is some type of loon because of the shape and the red eye. Any ideas out there?

050110_questionSpecies
QUESTION SPECIES

Now when I said the first three hours were not that bad I can only say that in hindsight. Initially I thought that the first three hours were not good at all however I had to change my tune once we hit the last ten hours. You see after those first three hours things went from bad to worse on the boat and well a good half of our 40 some people ended up hanging over the back of the boat being randomly sick. Thankfully I stayed at the front of the ship and although a bit queasy I managed to escape without getting sick.

Of course we didn’t only see birds. There were a few other things playing around in the sea with us. The highlight was the humpback whale that we saw only for a few minutes before it dove out of sight.

050110_humpbackwhale
HUMPBACK WHALE

050110_seals
SEALS

050110_dolphin
DOLPHIN

After this trip I think it will be quite a while before I decide to go on another deep sea boating adventure.

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