Tag Archives: Slender billed prion

The birds that make the wind blow (R.C. Murphy)

We are now half way across the Drake Passage with our bow pointed towards the Lemaire Channel which is much further south than we normally aim for the start of a trip. Very much looking forward to getting in amongst the serious ice right at the beginning of the trip!

But right now we are gently rolling in languid seas with an escort of albatross soaring around the ship. Wandering albatross with their wingspan of over three meters surround us and display their plumage like badges of rank denoting their age. Some birds still present the dark cap and brown plumage of juveniles, some have discarded the brown feather but retain the collar that proclaims them as sub-adults, some hold the black and white plumage of breeding adults and a few proudly display the broad expanse of white wings that marks them as mature adults approaching the full 50 years of their lifespan. Amidst these colossal ocean wanderers are a host of other albatross including black browed, grey headed and light mantled sooty albatross, as well as smaller ocean birds like the Wilson’s storm petrel, cape petrel, Antarctic prion and the slender billed prion.

It’s a vast ocean but it is hard to feel lonely when surrounded by such splendid companions.

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Swallowed by the mist

We are currently crossing that notorious body of water known as Drake Passage – renowned for terrible wind and waves. Yet the ship is barely moving as we charge through flat calm seas surrounded by a heavy mist that has clung to the ship all day masking the world from our eyes save a dim 20 meter swath of lazy water. Occasionally a slender billed prion or a blue petrel darts out of the mist and past the bow of the ship but apart from these rare and fleeting glimpses of life it feels almost as if we are all alone in a world that starts and ends  only meters from the ship.

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