Saturday, 17 November 2012

12 Hours of Misery for Less Than 12 Seconds of a Lifer

Not sure how much I feel like telling you tonight, as in many ways it would be a repeat of other reports of boat trips where the sea sickness got the best of me.  This time was a little different, in that I was well  rested, well fed and well medicated.  What I didn't count on was the change from west coast chumming to east coast chumming.  Out west they are a little more laid back and popcorn is the choice of Debi Shearwater.  Here in the manly man east, they chum with fish guts.  Though I have nearly no sense of smell, I think the fish guts turned my stomach sour and no amount of Ginger Ale and dramamine was gong to save me.

There were lots of birds, all but one of which I had seen this year.  My targets for this trip, besides any rarities, were Black-headed Gull, Manx Shearwater and the very unlikely Great Skua.  Only two Manx Shearwaters were seen all day and the first, who was around long enough for everyone else on the boat to see, appeared while I was asleep inside the cabin, having taken two too many dramamine pills.

Once I was upright, I wasn't going to leave the deck, no matter now many times my body rebelled on me and sent the contents of me stomach into the water with the fish guts.  Happy chumming.  It might have paid off, as not one hour later, but perhaps two hours later, one of the leaders shouted, "Manx Shearwater off the aft, heading left, away from the boat."  I was able to see it for a short time before it headed into a flock of gulls.  We all scanned it, the boat stopped and circled around hoping to get us close enough to get better looks and photos.  No luck.  Another Manx never appeared again.  I stayed out on the deck for another hour or so, but eventually had to go inside and rest.  I slept almost all the way to the dock, 12 hours after leaving at 6:30 this morning.

It was a rough day, but in the end, worth it for bird number 554

I need dinner now.  I need to sleep more.  Later I shall see if I got any good photos of the birds that did follow the boat for more than 12 seconds.

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