Thursday, 19 May 2011

Zino's petrels in the flesh!

Well just back in from a great trip out to the north of Madeira with Madeira Wind Birds, back in the hotel and damp, salty, and tired, but VERY happy!  Having just had a shower thought I'd just post something quickly before heading to's another day tomorrow!

We headed out early afternoon, leaving from the marina in Canical, and then out to the north into a pretty stiff wind, probably about 20-25 knots from the north.  Things were pretty bumpy and within a few minutes we had copped a few waves, so it was at about this point I confirmed I really do need new waterproof pants!  Oh well, worse things have happened at sea!

We headed out through good flocks of Cory's shearwaters, and encountered a relatively large pod of probably 20+ dolphins - I think they were probably bottlenose, but need to confirm this.  We continued out for a good 1.5 hours, seeing a few Bulwer's petrels as we went, and we finally got to our chumming location, and Hugo put out the chum.  Well it didn't take long and out first Pterodroma made an appearance.  This bird, as with all other Pterodroma's seen today, looked pretty convincingly like a Zino's and after much discussion on the way home, we feel that probably all Pterodroma's we got a good look at were probably this species.  Out first bird came in, gave a relatively good show with a couple of good close passes, and then headed off.  This was to be the case with most of them, but sometimes they stuck for a few minutes over the chum, although as luck would have it, these birds that tended to 'stick' arrived when we were downwind of the chum and had to turn and head back towards them.

In the end though we had at least 7 sightings, with at least 3 different individuals.  On the way back in we saw another two birds, and at least one of these was a very pale-winged bird making it at least four different individuals (if we wanted to be really conservative).  Looking at photos may well show we had more than this, and if I was a betting man I'd say most of the sightings were of different individuals, making a tally of at least 6+ birds.  Pretty awesome really.  We had some great close views of some of these birds, with them often coming within 15m in their typical sweeping Pterodroma flight.  Just awesome!

As well as these stunning birds we had great views of Cory's shears (200+) and Bulwer's petrels (50+), a single dark 'pale-rumped' storm-petrel still to be ID'd, at least 3 but possibly 4+ white-faced storm-petrels (sorry Bob still can't get excited about them seeing that these are THE common stormie of NZ), quite a few Manx shears (40+) (I probably was more excited about these than white-faced stormies), and a few Atlantic yellow-legged gulls.  We did also have a reasonable size blue shark at the chum, and a loggerhead turtle on the way not a bad day!

Those Zino's are still etched in my almost didn't need binoculars for most of them!

Bulwer's petrel

Our first at sea ZINO'S PETREL (looking at the bill this could actually be a Deserta's/Zino's, but based on jizz and structure of all birds seen that day, and the underwing of this bird, we feel all birds seen well were Zino's rather than Deserta's)

Good ol' Manx shearwater

Another ZINO'S PETREL (this one with extensive white in the underwing)

White-faced stormie...for you Bob!

And another...

Ok, ok, I admit it...they are quite cool!

Atlantic yellow-legged gull

Yet another ZINO'S PETREL (with a dark underwing)

Cory's shearwater

PS. loving the new BlackRapid R-Strap (RS-7) I just got.  Works really well even with full wet-weather gear, binoculars, and a lifejacket!  Meant i was able to easily unclip the camera/lens and put it in my dry-bag as we 'got wet' and then take out the camera again and clip on quickly when we were at the chum.  Stoked!


  1. Good gallery Brent. Love those Zeno's and the I am thinking of trying to raise the money to buy a speed boat like that of Madeira Winds to operate here in Lima. The seats look a bit uncomfortable....are they? Or does the Jockey style seating actually work very well on such a boat. Maybe it makes it easier to balance when photographing?

  2. Hi Gunnar,
    The boat works well in the conditions here. The seats are actually quite comfortable, but easiest for photography if you stand up.

  3. Well, yes I meant standing up...but I guess it the saddle in between sort of becomes like an extra leg to balance against...