26 September 2008

An unusual flying encounter

It was my first week for this season, and I was really happy to be back on board of the Tethys research vessel ‘Pelagos’. Thinking that a second year team member should work very carefully, I was trying to do my best in every task, starting from the sighting shifts. So during the winter I studied bird identification, too, since we also collect information on their presence during the navigation.

Herring gull, shearwater - ok, these are easy. Cormorant, puffin - too rare, I’ll never be so lucky. Audouin's gull, tern… ok I’ve got it!

I was feeling pretty confident about the species names, and during my shifts I was eager to report any flying fledged... Encounter: two adults herring gulls... Encounter: three shearwaters...

The principal investigator for the week was teasing me, but I was playing the ornithologist with conviction, so I persisted. Encounter: one tern...

Then, while I was on my sighting shift again, something strange appeared flying through my field of vision. Small, orange head, black and white dotted wings… Hoopoe! I suddenly screamed.

However, that one wasn't quite within its typical habitat. Upupa epops is a typical bird of cultivated grounds... what was it doing so far from the coast?

Francesca Zardin

Photo by Vezon Thierry / photo.net

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