August was a very exciting and busy month for me. I managed to complete three sea trips and saw lots of albatrosses and petrels. One of these trips was unique and I had some unusual experiences!
The first experience was rescuing a white-chinned petrel one evening that crash-landed onto the deck when pushed from behind by another bird. It flapped around on deck all disoriented and frightened, so I carefully caught it, let it recover for a moment and then released it. It quickly flew off but had completely scratched my hands to pieces (I forgot to put on my gloves!).
The next rather unusual experience on this trip was having two sub-Antarctic skuas sit on my head while I was working at the back of the vessel. On one previous trip I actually had five of these big seabirds sit on my head but this time I tried to take some photos which actually didn’t come out too badly.
The one skua stayed on my head for a fair length of time and the skipper of the vessel was even able to sneak up behind me and take a photograph. Then last but not least I also managed to take a short video clip of this beautiful bird sitting on my head.
The last most unusual experience on this trip doesn’t actually involve a bird of any kind but instead a small black and white feral kitten. I had been told that there was a cat on board by the crew, but when this tiny, terrified, blaze of black and white streaked into the accommodation and disappeared into the first cabin it saw, things really changed. It could no longer be ignored and I had to catch it (as all the crew were really frightened of this tiny hissing and spitting ball of fluff) and keep it safe while we were at sea.
I managed to catch it in a box, fed it fresh fish all day and fresh water and kept it in my cabin for the rest of the trip. It never made a noise or fuss and only broke out of the box once when the weather was very rough and it calmly let me put it back in the box. When we returned to shore it spent the night at my flat before I took it to the Animal Anti-cruelty League to try and find it a home.
This trip has been my most interesting; especially as I saw a seabird for the first time - a snow-white form of a southern giant petrel accompanied by a northern and southern royal albatross! Very special indeed.