Sunday, May 10, 2015

Panama Canal Cruise

Hi, everyone. I returned last night from an exciting "bucket list" cruise aboard the MS Noordam -- from Fort Lauderdale to Vancouver, B.C. via the Panama Canal.  The Panama Canal is a marvel of engineering, and when you think that the engineering technology that was implemented in the early 1900's is still essentially what is in use today, you cannot help but feel amazed. The seabirding from the ship varied from quite slow in parts of the Caribbean Sea and off Central America to large numbers of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and boobies off of Mexico, and very exciting in high winds and rough seas off of California. Sea turtles were very common just off Acapulco, lots of green sea turtles (some being used as a raft by Black Terns) and a few leatherbacks. Favorite birds?  Probably the four pterodroma petrels: one Black-capped Petrel in the Caribbean, good looks at Cook's Petrels off Mexico (with poor views off of California), great views of Murphy's Petrels off of both California and southern Oregon, and finally ( and I do mean finally), good views of three Hawaiian Petrels off California. The latter species has eluded me in ABA waters on several cruises, so I am very content to have had them last week. Lastly, one of my favorite birds seen from the boat was not a seabird at all: it was one of the three Fork-tailed Flycatchers seen on fences as we transited the Miraflores Locks in the Panama Canal. This cruise is one that I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys cruise ships.