Oh for the wings of a petrel?

One of the easiest birds to photograph on our trip down South was the Giant Petrel. GP comes in two flavours, Northern and Southern. The easiest differentiating feature is the bill tip. In NGP it is a reddish colour and SGP shows a dull green hue. Of course this presupposes that you are close enough to offer it a handkerchief. Blow into that sir or madam.  It is not that difficult to get so close as they circle the boats, or rather they seemed to fly a figure of eight. The photographer’s job was simple. Work out the best position relative to the light and proximity to the boat. If you got it wrong there was an outside risk of being dinged on the head by a bird with a 6′ wingspan, tipping the scales at almost 5kg. That is like being hit over the head with 2 Lulus. Except that the dog doesn’t have a 6′ wingspan.  But the weight is about right.

Despite this ease of snapping on board ship I could not resist the temptation to capture them when we were on land. One decided to glide down to take a look at us. Possibly it thought Mrs. Ha would make a decent snack. Anyway I was ready to take photographs for the identification parade if a crime was committed and I present to the jury, Exhibit A – incoming bandit at 3 o’clock.

Giant-PetrelThis was a somewhat closer view of a different bird; Northern GP or halli‘s comet perhaps…..

Northern-giant-petrelAnd this was my favourite:

Sharpened-versionYou just can’t beat a good silhouette.  Either that or my flash failed.

Neither flavour of GP has visited our garden yet. We did have an Osprey flying near the house this morning so we put Lulu inside. You can never be too careful. Fish. Dog. Dog. Fish. How good is an Osprey at telling the difference? We just can’t take the risk. All these birds look so innocent but they are not. I am contemplating introducing you to the South Polar Skua but it is pretty hardcore stuff and this is a family blog. I need to mull this over a while yet.


8 thoughts on “Oh for the wings of a petrel?

  1. Now there’s a Giant Bird I’d like to see, at a safe distance of course, Andrew, as food seems uppermost to mind, so no handkerchief waving and calling of ‘yoo hoo’ from moi’ Survival instinct totally intact. xPenx

  2. The close up is my favorite, too, Andrew.
    A charming old lady who used to live across from us had almost the same profile. Not a good look on her, but the bird is gorgeous!

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