For the Shear Hell of It

And it may indeed have been hell for some people. The ferry trip between Lanzarote and  Fuerteventura is scheduled to take 30 minutes......unless you are sailing into heavy seas and a stiff northerly wind. In these circumstances the voyage is longer and, how should we put it..... interesting. But whilst most folk were more concerned with keeping their breakfast where it belonged, yours truly was poised atop deck, camera in hand hoping to snap passing Cory's Shearwaters. Doesn't everyone do this from time to time? No! Well buckle-up folks for it's a rough ride. With the spray from our bow lashing across deck, the boat pitching and tossing in the swell, everything moving up and down and side to side, I tried to photograph fast moving birds that were tacking into the wind and living up to their names. Shearwaters indeed, totally at one with the elements and unperturbed by the conditions, these Mariners scythed through the air inches above the waves, twisting one way and then flipping over to glide another 100 yards without so much as a flick of their long, bowed wings. I simply pointed the camera in their rough direction, pressed the shutter button and hoped for the best. And much to my delight I got a couple of reasonable images. Unfortunately this temperamental iPad doesn't seem keen on letting me share them with you, but If you can bare to wait a couple of days I'll post them when I return home.

Once settled on Fuerteventura we spent our time wandering around the town of Corralejo that is much more built up than anything we've seen on Lanzarote and more typical of touristic hotspots the world over. However the beaches were pleasant and the sangria even more so. Whilst sitting on the seafront imbibing a large glass of said liquid, a bold whimbrel began probing in the rocks on the foreshore just a few yards from where we sat. After a while it began to doze until it obviously saw a movement on the newly exposed sand. It almost sprinted down the beach and began hacking away at an, as yet unseen, item of prey. After a lot of pecking and tossing of its head from side to side it became clear that the bird was tackling a medium sized crab. We sometimes fail to fully appreciate, I think, the power a birds beak can weald; the poor crustacean didn't stand a chance. Before too long all that was left was a hollowed out shell. If you've ever found crab shells on the beach with a ragged hole in the centre, it has almost certainly been caused by a hungry bird, maybe an oystercatcher or perhaps a gull. This poor crab made the fatal mistake of being seen, demonstrating in one torrid episode how tenuous life can be for small creatures of this world, whose very survival lies in their ability to remain hidden from prying eyes and vicious beaks. But for the whimbrel such a meal sustains it for another hour or two and helps to fuel the long migration northwards that it must soon make.

And then it was time for the ferry back and another crack at those shearwaters......