A Journey to the Remotest Corners of the Seven Seas
The Quest Over the last twenty-five years I have visited virtually all the nooks and crannies of North America searching for lepidoptera, plants, reptiles and of course birds. I have visited 48 states and all the Canadian Provinces. I have driven 100,000s of kilometres and taken hundreds of flights. I have enjoyed this immensely but recently I have definitely felt the urge to broaden my horizons.
I have always been attracted to remote, wind swept and obscure places and many of my most memorable experiences have been the multiple pelagic trips I have taken from all corners of the continent culminating last spring in an amazing expedition along the Aleutian chain from Adak to Attu and back again to Dutch Harbour .
Adak, Aleutian Islands
Pacific Sunset 100 miles west of San Diego I now plan to seek out new destinations with the goal of seeing all the worlds seabirds. This quest will require me to visit many of the worlds most remote and rugged land and seascapes. From the Aleutians to Antarctica, from Tristan da Cuhna to Amsterdam Island and on to Pitcairn, from the Galapagos to the Bismark Archipelago and on to Mauritius, Cape Verdes and Madeira - specks on a map known to few -visited by still fewer . Beck’s Petrel, Polynesian Storm-Petrel, Whiskered Auklet, Amsterdam Albatross, Christmas Island Frigatebird and Emperor Penguin… dream birds!!!!!!!
Black-capped Petrel, over the blue water of the Gulf Stream, North Carolina Laysan Albatross sailing across a typically unsettled Aleutian Sky To see all the seabirds currently extant in the world should be an exceptionally challenging venture. Many of these birds (Magenta Petrel, Mascarene Petrel) have only ever been seen by a handful of people. Others live in extremely inaccessible places (Amsterdam Island Albatross, Greater Snow Petrel). Others not only live in highly inaccessible locations but are extremely challenging to identify at sea (Henderson Petrel, MacGillvray’s Prion). This is what should make this quest not only an extraordinary adventure but a colossal challenge.
Pico do Arieiro, Madiera Island - above the clouds lone breeding site for Zino’s Petrel What birds to include? Seabirds are not really a well defined group. Some would define seabirds as the bird families illustrated in Harrison’s seminal Seabirds of the World. This takes in not only the obvious tubenoses but many other groups as well including gulls, loons and grebes. I wanted to stick to bird groups which are highly pelagic. Thus I did not include loons, grebes, pelicans, gulls or tern, shorebirds or shags. I did include all tubenoses plus penguins, alcids, frigatebirds, gannets and boobies, tropicbirds and skua and jaegers. I arbitrarily included the sheathbills because they are exotic, bizarre and limited in range to the Southern Ocean.
Pied-billed Grebe-seabird? Not.
Shy Albatross -seabird? You bet!!
My website “Pelagic Odyssey” will be an ongoing work documenting the challenges, successes and undoubtedly the failures I will encounter on the road to attempt to see every species of seabird that currently exists on the planet earth. I think it is important to note that for a relatively average person such as myself this goal would have been unthinkable even a few years ago. Thanks and acknowledgement needs to be extended to seabirding pioneer’s such as Peter Harrison and Hadoram Shirihai as well as the many dedicated and enthusiastic individuals across the world that have opened up new seabirding frontiers to us common folk.
The title “Pelagic Odyssey” was clearly inspired by the now legendary tours run by Wild Wings Tours which include the “Atlantic Odyssey” and of course the “Western Pacific Odyssey’ run in conjunction with Heritage Expeditionsof New Zealand. John Brodie-Good the founder of Wild Wings has clearly been singularly instrumental in the development of world pelagic birding over the last decade. Welcome!!!!