Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The WPO: Torishima Island & Miyake-Jima

 Bonin Petrel - a very localised species.

 Tristram's Storm Petrel
 Notice the slightly grey rump.

 Wedge-tailed Shearwater

After yesterday, this morning (4th May) was a total let down! Just the odd Bonin Petrel & a few  Storm Petrels & Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were noted. The afternoon wasn't much better, but then a juvenile Short-tailed Albatross flew by!!!! Didn't get any photos, as it took me by surprise after the unrelenting boredom!

 A flock of Streaked Shearwaters

Quite a lot of  Streaked Shearwaters were also noted. But tomorrow is another day!

 Torishima Island

It is 5th May & we are 12 miles off Torishima. It is the day for Short-tailed Albatross!

 Black-footed Albatross

 But it is a dismal & gloomy morning with just a hint of rain in the air. terrible for photography! The boys start throwing fish guts into the water & after a few minutes it works! Black-footed Albatrosses are the first to arrive & then the Short-taileds! Magic!

 Short-tailed Albatross
 On the verge of extinction a few years ago.

 A slightly older individual.

 One of the highlights of the entire trip!

At least five different Short-tails were seen, but the conditions were less than ideal for photography. Sorry about the quality of the shots!

Streaked Shearwater
A few Streaked Shearwaters were also around together with the odd Bonin Petrel. 
After breakfast I spotted a distant Laysan Albatross but the rest of the morning was rather dull.

Cattle Egret
Later on in the day a Cattle Egret made the mast its temporary home. It looked pretty uncomfortable up there in the howling wind & rain.

Miyake Jima in the background & those two
 very important pinnacles of rock!

6th May, the last full day of the trip! There was only one species on today's agenda - Japanese Murrelet! We steamed slowly northwards towards Miyake Jima & the two little islets offshore, which are the main breeding ground for this very rare species. We got closer & closer, but no Murrelets! This was getting very tense! Then on the northward side of the islets we spotted our first little group. They were tiny & incredibly difficult to see in the ocean.


 Japanese Murrelet
 This is a big tick!

 They were quite shy of the ship
 & kept their distance.

I saw 24 Japanese Murrelets, all in small family groups & all in quite a small area, just north of the stacks. This probably means that they don't disperse very far from their breeding grounds.

 Black-footed Albatross

 Streaked Shearwater

Other species recorded include 2 Black-footed Albatrosses; around 30,000 Streaked Shearwaters (yes really)! And a Short-tailed Shearwater. Not much diversity then! But we retired that evening very happy: the big one was in the bag!

Japan - Yokohama.

All the trappings of civilization
 are there to be seen.

 Me in Japan.
 Yokohama Harbour is one of the largest
 in the world.

7th May & something very strange is out there! I can see land & not any old piece of land but the vast cavernous nature of Yokohama outer harbour! It does feel strange to see civilization again after all this time.
Japanese (Temminck's) Cormorant.

A few flocks of Japanese Cormorants flew by. And both Band-tailed & Vega Gulls were seen, although distantly.

Streaked Shearwaters.

 Plenty of Streaked Shearwaters were flying around the outer harbour.

It is all over - one of the great birding journeys
 in the world!

Time to go across the world, 
to our respective homes.

Then it was all over & time for disembarkation from what feels like my second home, The Spirit of Enderby. I was a little sad that it was now all over, as I had had the time of my life over the last 31 days.

 Both Chris & Sav our bird guides had been brilliant &  made the trip the success it was. I can't thank you enough guys.

Lynsey & Kath were an interesting couple full of fun & most importantly brilliant cooks. Thanks guys!

And last but not least, Kat who was a bundle of energy, interested in everything & was the go to person in virtually any situation. She was also an excellent bar tender!
Without all you guys, the trip wouldn't have been the same & it was my pleasure to get to know you all.

 My temporary home from home - 
The Spirit of Enderby.

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