It was a short ride out to the 'Petrel' island but quite a lively one, with huge waves breaking on the outer rocks.
Getting on board - the easy bit
Setting off and yes thats me in the corner losing my religion
Getting off the boat was a good deal more hairy if not downright foolhardy
The island was partially covered by sparce vegetation only some 4 inches high, underwhich the entrances to the White faced Petrels nest burrows could be seen.We set out our sleeping bags on the stone covered crusted sand and had our packed dinner as the day turned to night. It was some time after dark that the first White faced Petrels came in. Flying low, picked out in the red beam of a single torch the birds surrounded us, as more and more came in. It was a magical birding experience. The birds started to land on the patches of vegetation, very ungainly on land as they moved to their nest sites but beautiful little birds nonetheless.
All too soon it was time to switch off the torch and climb into the sleeping bags. Sleeping though was almost impossible, for me at least, trying to get into a comfortable position on the hard ground. As soon as you moved there was another rock sticking into you somewhere you didnt want it. And then it was dawn and then it was time to strip off all over again and then we had to wade up to our armpits and try to scramble into the boat as it heaved up and down. Everyone helped everyone else though, which was good and we were soon heading back to dry off on dry land. All together what you might call an experience!
On the drive back to the hotel we encountered an obliging flock of Black crowned Sparrow Larks and a photogenic Hoopoe Lark.
Black crowned Sparrow Lark - All photographs in this post courtesy of Michael Baker
After lunch, it may have been Pizza, we saw an Egyptian Vulture, a first for the trip. It was then back to the airport for the final time after what had been an extremely successful and enjoyable tour. The White faced Petrel was my 700th Western Pal bird, a personal landmark but more importantly it was great to meet up with some old friends and make some new friends. Thanks to them and to Vaughan for his organisation and tireless good humour.