Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How I became a seabird aficionado

I grew up with a brother who was into birding.  I myself was not --however, I did love fishing offshore, and I did notice the birds around us.  In high school, my brother talked me into an Audubon trip from Sausalito (near to our childhood home) out to the Farallon Islands.  I enjoyed it, but still would rather have been fishing. In the summer of 1982, I started to enjoy seabirds for their own sake. I worked as a deckhand on a charter boat out of Garibaldi.  The job was 5 am until as late as 5 pm, seven days a week.  On these trips, I enjoyed watching Sooty Shearwaters flapping and gliding seemingly without effort over the waves.  On calm days, you might see one barely touch a wing tip to the water, "shearing it".  Puffins and murres sped past our boat on their way to and from their feeding areas.  I remember my first storm-petrels as well, darting little birds, mostly grayish, but some very dark with white rumps. These were only seen when we went far offshore and fished the deep reefs and rockpiles. And there were the albatrosses:  huge, and clumsy and comical when landing on the water, but majestic when soaring.  It took me another three years to really become a birder, but watching those seabirds from the deck of the old Harbormaster surely set me on the path to becoming one. 

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