15-16/09 : pelagics to the Conception Bank

It's a well known fact that I love pelagics and this is a brief report of the visit I made with Lanzarote pelagics to the Banco de la Concepción, 60 kms to the N of Lanzarote, this last weekend. Journey on Friday, 14/09, to Lanzarote via Madrid where I enjoyed(?) a nearly 4 hour break reading a John Le Carré book I had been saving just for this. I stayed up at Orzola, from which we would be sailing, as driving up and back to Arrecife after some 15 hours at sea seemed stupid, so I was within 5 minutes walk of the boat.
The plan was to hit the southerly autumn migration and one with which I could not disagree, and hopefully some rarer ones but we were frustrated to some extent by the cyclonic situation. On the Saturday morning, in the darkness and dawn still a fair way off, some 30 of us congregated on the dockside awaiting the arrival of the boat. We were a fairly motley crew, a little League of Nations, with various Brits including Dick Newell, like myself an orginal Seabird Group member from back in 1965, as well as a Finn, a Dutchman, one French birder with whom I shared mutual acquaintances, and a number of Spanish birders.
We did see lots Cory's and the inevitable Yellow-legged Gulls, a few Bulwer's Petrels and only one Arctic Tern, but we saw no rare skuas (i.e. South Polar) and skua numbers were lower than I would have expected, no Sabine's Gulls (God knows why not), a very distant Swinhoe's Storm-petrel seen by only three of which only two said they were certain, the third observer having seen a only a black object disappeaaring into the distance. A Quail is not a a marine species, but one was seen passing the boat, presumably to meet a watery grave. So, now to a bundle of photos with a minimal text above each set of species photos.

Manx Shearwater : Very few seen and only two photos taken, one of which is shown here as the other shows a disappearing stern of this same bird.

 Band-rumped Storm-petrel : Numerous on the Saturday with an estimated 300+ being seen, only 100 or so on the Sunday. Some bird (photo1) were in wing moult. This species has now been officially split into three different spp. but these are the original Oceanodroma castro.

Wilson's Storm-petrel : Very few seen and badly photographed (2 photos below here), the same going for European Storm-petrel (not photographed).


Common Tern : We saw quite a few, more on the Saturday, and most were juveniles, 3 photos here.

 Long-tailed Skua: Scarce but some showed well, sufficient to obtain these three shots as evidence.

Pomarine Skua : Not particularly numerous either but these photos give a reasonable idea of this splendid species.

We saw some cetaceans including Hump-backed, Bryde's and Cuvier's Whales, not to mention the great experience of getting in amongst the biggest group of Bottle-nosed Dolphins I have ever seen, a guesstimated 150-200 animals, the big males leaping up to 3m clear of the surface. Notable, and for many of us most encouraging, was the number of females with young, perhaps between a quartear and a third of the total. These photos give a taste of things.

And did I enjoy it? Don't ask silly questions!

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