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TMPC - Siciliy to Tunisia
September 2017

This was the offshore trip I spent the least amount of time out on deck EVER but still managed to see a few birds....

This is a job I have been invloved with many times, from the early '90s onwards. This page covers the little birding I did in September 2017 on the Sicilian side of the job. Joining the vessel in Trapani - a place that brings back a lot of memories for me. Not so much because of the place but more to having to leave there in a hurry when my oldest daughter was  born and returning there for a six week trip the day after she came into the world.

Short-toed Eagle lands on survey vessel in the Mediterranean
Short-toed Eagle resting onboard, September 2017
Initially identified as Honey Buzzard - but the grey unfeathered legs, the large head and powerful beak are all indicators that this is in fact a Short-toed Eagle.
Picture taken with DSLR and a 400mm telephoto lens

A flock of Swallows resting on the crane boom during the night. At dawn these birds continued their journey across the Mediterranean towards Africa.

Migrating passerines were seen on several nights flitting in and out of the darkness as they circled the vessel. One warbler snatched insects attracted to the lights on deck and a flock of Swallows spent the night onboard. The only other passerine seen offshore was a single Turtle Dove which briefly rested under the helideck.

Scopoli's Shearwaters were reasonably regular but never particularly numerous, with the largest flock numbering just half a dozen  - but were seen plunge diving after prey. Away from the coast gulls were very uncommon. The only species positively identified was Yellow-legged Gull.

Bird of the trip in a Mediterranean context was a Storm Petrel which actually landed on the crane one night. This is a species I have seen a few times in the Mediterranean but not often so far east.

A Cattle Egret spent the early hours of the morning onboard before heading off to the north - seeming to give up it's attempt to cross the Med and head back to Sicily.

Storm Petrel
Record shot of a Storm Petrel that came onboard one night and landed on the vessel's crane, Mediterranean, September 2017
Picture taken with a point and pray superzoom from 20 metres in the middle of the night.........

MMore links to birding the Mediterranean
Birding the Mediterranean
Eastern Mediterranean
Straights of Gibraltar

Offshore lightening storm, near Sicily, September 2017

Birding Sicily

Marsh Harrier resting on the ROV A-frame
Marsh Harrier takes a nocturnal  break halfway across the Mediterranean, September 2017
This image was taken by setting the ISO to something approaching 1000 000 and underexposing by several stops. This was the only way to get the shutter speed down to something faster than 1/50. More on nocturnal bird photography on this page.

Marsh Harrier resting on the ROV A-frame
Marsh Harrier , Mediterranean,
September 2017
For this picture I put the camera on automatic and raised the flash. ISO values were rather more normal but shutter speed still very slow for a hand-held 400mm lens on a moving vessel.

Swallows spending the night on the crane boom.
Part of a flock of seven Swallows spending the night on the crane boom, Mediterranean, September 2017
This picture was taken with a superzoom point and pray....

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