Posted by: orcaweb | July 18, 2008

ORCA / DFDS Seaways Wildlife Officer Beth Hazell has an encounter with Storm-birds onboard the Queen of Scandinavia!


Hello and welcome to my blog!


Newcastle to Bergen (Friday 20th – Monday 23rd June)


Beth hides behind an unfeasibly large pair of binoculars!

Beth hides behind an unfeasibly large pair of binoculars!


I have to say that this has been a bit of a quiet trip when it comes to sightings.  It started out well as we spotted cormorants, manx shearwaters and obviously the gulls and terns, but we are already on the way back and it has all gone silent and I am beginning to wonder if the animals know something I don’t?


Now I have to admit that it is only Sunday evening and we could still have a minke whale breach in front of the boat tomorrow morning as all the passengers and I look on in awe and still somehow manage to encapsulate the image in an award winning photo but never the less I thought I would write my blog this evening.  Partly because I can’t sleep as we have picked up a bit of a gale making the boat rock in this lumpy sea and partly because I want to share my near traumatic experience with you.


Even though it is rather windy outside I went to check that our current ORCA surveyors had not taken their duty to record data to life threatening extremes as I imagined them recording sea states as they clung to the bow which was fluctuating more than the big dipper at Blackpool.  Obviously, being ORCA surveyors they had far more common sense than that and it turned out that I was the only daft one on deck.  With no hope of making it anywhere near the bow due to the force of the wind I ended up at the stern which was actually quite pleasant. It also made me feel a bit better as I found another daft person trying to have a cigarette in relative shelter.  This is when I saw them.


Storm petrels! Two small birds literally fighting against tremendous wind and all I could do was watch.  It looked as though they were in a tumble-dryer as they swirled and twirled behind the boat. Sporadically peeling off as I am sure they were taken on a gust of wind but every time they battled to get back behind the boat.  They truly must have been exhausted and a few times it looked like they were heading for a watery ending as they bailed downward and then just before hitting the water they would rise up again.  Sometimes they would make it over my head but they wouldn’t be able to land and they were sent off at rapid speeds to the right as they hit air coming out of the ship’s funnel.





All I wanted to do was reach out, grab them and put one in each pocket.  Now I know petrels spend months out at sea in the most horrendous weather conditions but I hadn’t seen these delicate but obviously tough (and perhaps slightly foolhardy) little birds before and having this saga unfolding a few feet in front of me was a little distressing. 


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