Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Birding in our Sleep?

The ocean. 
Regarded by many as the last frontier. 

Perhaps that’s why I’m drawn to it so much.  When I was a young adult, I was an avid scuba diver. Now, I prefer to skim along the surface in my kayak, or walk along the water‘s edge, enjoying it’s always changing majesty. The air is fresh and clean. There are no ringing telephones, no shopping malls, no traffic or honking horns. 

But there are birds.

A couple of summer's ago, Little Sister and her husband drove up to Cape Breton from Maine and joined The Ranger and I for their summer vacation.  We packed up our kayaks - you'd be amazed at how much gear you can stuff into one of them - and  paddled to a barrier beach along the coast of Cape Breton, where we set up camp for a couple of days.  I wish I had pictures, but that was pre-computer, and they are home, stored on a disc.  Sorry. 
(Blogger doesn't seem to want to upload pictures today, anyway!).

During the night, we were awakened by what sounded like hundreds of little gremlins all around our tents.  They were Leach's Storm-Petrels, and if you go here and scroll down just a little bit, you can hear them, too.

Needless to say, we were excited, but confused.  We had no idea.  No, we didn't see them.  It was pitch black out.  But by the power of deduction, we discovered their identity.  Unlike our land birds, there aren't a lot of books about sea birds.  They are, afterall, a little more difficult to study.

That was before this awesome book, Petrels, Albatrosses, and Storm-Petrels of North America: A Photographic Guide by Steve N. G. Howell, was published by Princeton University Press.

Now I know that storm-petrels nest on remote ocean habitat and are nocturnal to avoid predation, that they have a keen sense of smell, and that they nest in tunnels, either abandoned by other creatures, or around the roots of trees.  (And right beside us there was a beach-side forested area.  The perfect spot.)  Because of all the wonderful pictures, I also know just what they look like, where else they are found, and all about  their tube-nosed cousins around the world.

This book has incredible information and lots of maps, and although the title suggests it is a guide for North America, trust me, it is so comprehensive, it can be used anywhere in the world!

What is a tube-nose, you ask?
Check out this book to learn more fascinating facts.
You'll want to book reservations on the next pelagic tour
closest to you!!


TexWisGirl said...

wow! had no idea birds like that would be nocturnal!

Bob Bushell said...

I'll bet that you had a wonderful time.

grammie g said...

Hi Karen...they do sound like a bunch of Gremlin's LOL ..very amusing !! I probably would have vacated the place ; }

Binsa said...

Hello Karen,I enjoyed your post....where we live...I have noticed alot of new bird life..mayhap to do with our weather pattern....out front we have a dove with her nest in my weeping rose bush.....the baby has just hatched....Hugs O'faigh

Carole said...

I saw thousands (millions?) of storm petrels in the Galapagos, but it didn't seem as though they were nocturnal. I need to look that up. Very interesting post!

KaHolly said...

Thanks for stopping by, everyone. Carole, I wanted to address the point you brought up specifically -there are several different kinds of storm-petrels that inhabit many different ocean habitats and not all are nocturnal. It just so happens the Leach's is. Thanks!!

Just Ramblin' said...

I have never heard of a Leach's storm petrel before. They are a beautiful bird and really have such a different sound. If I had only heard the sound, I would never have connected it to a bird. I'm with grammie g: they do sound like a bunch of Gremlins. I find it interesting that they are nocturnal. Thanks for sharing. Nola

Cuby said...

What an incredible call Leah's storm petrels have, a good alarm call I think although it was in the middle of the night. Sounds like an amazing trip.

Carrie P. said...

squeaky little birds.

Rambling Woods said...

I didn't know that..isn't it fun to solve a bird mystery..I love them