Birds of the Southern Ocean
Another entry in my photo / video series on my research trip to Antarctica. Today I'm featuring a few birds, as a true non-birder. As we steamed southward away from Elephant Island towards the Antarctic Sound and eventually the Weddell Sea, we not only spotted as many as 200 Fin Whales and a mixed group of Long-finned Pilot Whales and Hourglass Dolphins, but also Albatross, Prions, and Petrels.
For hours the birders on board were in heaven, and there were many who booked this trip just for the birds. I would never claim to be a proper birder, I have too much respect for them. Just thinking about the patience needed to find, shoot and then spend hours identifying minute differences between the species makes my head hurt. I did however enjoy a few hours working alongside some experts attempting to capture that one perfect shot (which I never did).
As with many animals, patterns of movement and hunting behaviors may be predictable. Out on the open ocean though, aboard a gently rocking ship moving at nearly 12 knots can provide an interesting challenge. Also, bright sunlight shifting quickly to dim cloud cover, ever-changing winds, occasional rain and even some brief snow, can all wreak havoc with photographing birds in flight.
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