Sunday, August 16, 2020

Pelagic boat trips

Cory's Shearwater (Calonectris borealis) and Sooty Shearwater (Ardenna grisea) taking off. About 2 miles off Ilha da Culatra, Algarve, 22-July-2020. All photos: Georg Schreier.
Cory's Shearwater (Calonectris borealis) and Sooty Shearwater (Ardenna grisea) taking off.
About 2 miles off Ilha da Culatra, Algarve. 22-July-2020. All photos: Georg Schreier.

One of the best nature activities to do in the hot season here, is going out on a refreshing boat trip, exploring the coastal waters of the Algarve for pelagic sea birds. An activity, which I am doing here in the "Sotavento" (Algarve's sandy eastern half) with a boat tour operator from Fuseta for more than 10 years now. Between June and October, we can see up to six Shearwater-species, at least two species of Storm Petrels (Wilson's- and European-) and various other pelagic sea birds, including Skuas (mostly Great-, but also Pomarine- and Arctic-) Nothern Gannets, Terns and Gulls, including Audouin's and Slender-billed Gulls on a regular basis. Also Dolphins (mostly Bottlenosed- and Common-) are often encountered during these short trips (duration: 2,5 hs) when we go out in a spacy glass fiber boat for up to 6 miles. Each trip is different and what we see depends a lot on season, as well as on weather- and wind conditions. I include here photos from the two last trips (Aug. 12th and July, 22nd this year). Minimum number we require to go out are 4 people. We don't do "chumming", but look for areas with feeding activity or for roosts. We are going to do one trip each week till early September (Sept. 2nd.) for now. For further Info and reservations visit:

A nice "grouping" of Shearwaters: Balearic Shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus) on the left. Two Great Shearwaters (Ardenna gravis) to the right of it. A Sooty Shearwater (Ardenna grisea) in the center back. With three Cory's Shearwaters completing the mix... off Fuseta, Algarve, 22-July-2020.

Wilson's Storm Petrel (Oceanites oceanicus) in fresh plumage, passing close by the boat. Amazing, these little sea birds breed around the Antarctic and spend the south winter in our area. About 5 miles off Fuseta, 12-Aug-2020. The birds in the following three photos are of the same species.

The Storm Petrels were feeding around a floating and deteriorating carcass of a Dolphin, we encountered a few miles off shore. Also a small Shark (possibly Blue-) was taking bites...

European Storm Petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus) showing active wing moult, growing inner primaries. 12-Aug-2020.

Pomarine Skua (Stercorarius pomarinus) light morph, 2nd summer type, roosting with Cory's Shearwaters. Off Fuseta, 22-July-2020. The next two pictures showing the same bird.

Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus) taking off. 22-July-2020. One of the rarer species here in summer.

Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) with a calf. 22-July-2020. In June we were lucky enough to see Risso's Dolphins (Grampus griseus) during a trip off Fuseta: Here is a short video:  [post edit: two videos of Common Dolphins I made during a trip on 21-Aug-2020 are here and here ]

Next trips are scheduled for Sept., 17th and Sept. 29th, 2020.

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