Lately, eBird tells us that there have been some good sightings from the Puntarenas-Paquera ferry. Ten or more Galapagos Shearwaters have been seen along with Bridled Tern and Brown Noddy. Given that I still needed the two tropical terns for the year, and that they would probably be departing from our waters at any time, I gave in to temptation yesterday and did some ferry birding. Feeling too lazy to awake at three a.m. (I know what kind of birder am I!), I opted for drifting down to the coast for the 9 o:clock boat. Although the earliest boat is always the most intriguing, the one at nine a.m. is still good for birds, and the eleven boat isn’t too bird shabby either. And, you can always scan from the point well before the hour of departure. I did just that yesterday and enjoyed views of a few dolphins and some nice flocks of distant feeding birds, one of which had my 2017 Bridled Tern.
The view from the point.
With one down and one or more to go, I headed out into the Gulf of Nicoya, scanning the sea with bins and scope in my hungry attempt for year birds. The bird activity was good, I got two more year birds (Brown Noddy and Red-billed Tropicbird) and also made some random observations that could come in handy when taking the ferry. They are as follows in the order in which I typed them on my phone:
Tropicbirds mindblast out of nowhere: Instead of taking notes on the bird’s plumage, yes, this is what came to mind. Since I saw every pertinent field mark in excellent light and at close range, I didn’t feel like making notes of that mental recording. What impressed me more was how the thing managed to escape my scanning efforts until it was right in front of the boat. Did it come from the left, the right, or maybe from above? I have no idea because it just popped into view, right in front, and when I put my bins on it, whammo, the possible Royal Tern was a tropicbird! On it flew off to the right, behind the boat, and off into nowhere. No time for a picture but you can bet that the experience is recorded into the cerebral database. I always wondered if and when I would see one from the ferry. The interesting thing about this birdy was that it was an adult. Since almost all records are of juveniles, it could mean that other birds from elsewhere are also currently taking advantage of the natural chum in the Gulf, and that brings up my next two observations.
Now is a damn good time for Galapagos Shearwater: We see this nice bird now and then from the ferry, especially during the wet season. That said, I have never seen around 30 in one day! They were in groups of five or more and could be seen floating on the water like tropical Alcids, fluttering and gliding out of the way of the ferry, and feeding with Black Terns. Pretty nice! With all of the run-off going into the Gulf, it seems plausible that the shearwaters and all sorts of life forms are taking advantage of the extra food.
Egrets on driftwood: As usual, I saw a few Snowy Egrets hunting on drift lines, pretty far from shore. They perch on driftwood or whatever and then surely catch small fish and other creatures that try to take shelter below the stuff.
Plastic is seriously messing up our fish tank: We keep hearing about this and it’s true. I mean how stupid are we as a species? Just let it keep happening until we ruin the oceans and everything that depends on them? This was all too easy to think about upon seeing bits of plastic stuff populating the drift lines.
Taking the ferry? Get ready to dance!: Yeah, seriously. Fortunately, you don’t have to dance and no one was yesterday but you might be tempted. Well, that or tempted to get devious and sort of disconnect the speakers by accident. Be forewarned that the mid-morning ferry from Paquera has a resident DJ and he may entertain with the sounds of rap, merengue, salsa, or a Michael Jackson mix. Yesterday, he started with some P. Diddy (aka Puff Daddy) before grooving into classic salsa. I didn’t mind the salsa. I wouldn’t have minded some Big Poppa raps either because after all, how many people can say that they have watched Galapagos Shearwaters while listening to lyrics like, “I love it when they call me Big Poppa! Put your hands in the air if you are a true player..”, or one of my favorites, “Birthdays was the worst days but now we drink champagne when we thirstay!” Next time, I’m gonna request that but only if a good bird shows up.
Imagine seeing these while hearing, “Biggie Biggie Biggie can’t you see
Sometimes your words just hypnotize me
And I just love your flashy ways
Guess that’s why they broke, and you’re so paid”. (RIP Notorious B.I.G.)
I wish I had a superscope: The “superscope” would make it possible to watch birds at incredible distances. It would show excellent resolution at like 1,000 times magnification and account for everything from heat waves to sound waves, movement of wind, boats, and whatever else, as well as the very curvature of the planet. It would also have night vision and thermal features, be made of lightweight yet impossibly strong nanoparticles, would always float, and would come with an option for a mini French press. That way, I could just scan from shore and tick off albatrosses and Pterodromas while sipping fresh Costa Rican coffee. There’s an idea for you MIT, RIT, and whatever birding engineers are out there.
Good luck with ferry birding, I hope I see you on the boat and that we get that Black-vented Shearwater. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone did this weekend.