A boat captain from Duncan, British Columbia, said it was the ‘highlight of her birding career’ when she caught a glimpse of a rarely seen South American bird while on tour a few weeks ago.
Tasli Shaw says she was on a day trip by boat in the Salish Sea on July 23 when she noticed a bird that looked different from the usual gulls she had seen in her 13 years quarry, just south of the Trial Islands near Victoria.
“[It] immediately registered as an outsider on the birdwatching side of my brain,” said Shaw, who works for whale-watching company Ocean Ecoventures in Cowichan Bay on Vancouver Island.
“The way it flapped its wings was very different from that of a species of gull. It also had very distinctive black bars on its wings.”
Shaw says she immediately “sprung into action” and managed to get video of the bird – which turned out to be a Nazca Booby, a seabird native to the Eastern Pacific, around the Central America.
WATCH | Rare Nazca Booby bird spotted near Trail Islands off Vancouver Island
This is only the third confirmed sighting of the bird in the province, according to British Columbia Rare Bird Alert.
“This sighting was very significant … to be privileged to find only the third confirmed Nazca booby in the province,” Shaw said. “It was the high point of my career as an ornithologist.”
Shaw said the boat, along with a number of curious passengers, was rocking in rough seas. The bird itself moved erratically.
She said that once she explained to passengers what she was doing – “driving a big circle, trying to follow the bird and getting good pictures of it” – and how the bird was rare, they were “very surprised”.
On a trip that included sightings of a humpback whale and calf, and a pupping harbor seal, the Nazca booby sighting was always the highlight, he said. she declared.
“I feel very privileged to be on the water so much, and experience all the other incredible seabirds we have here,” she said. “Passing the rare bird is icing on the cake.”
Matt Stolmeier, another boat captain who managed to get high-resolution photos of the bird a day after Shaw’s sighting, said he turned his boat around once he noticed the bird. in the corner of the eye.
“Our network of wildlife guides and naturalists were notified of the Tasli sighting, so many of us were on high alert for this bird,” he said. “It was a very exciting discovery.”
The migration season is still ongoing
Ann Nightingale, a Rocky Point Bird Observatory volunteer, said she chartered a boat after news of the Nazca Booby sightings spread, but she failed to cross paths with it.
“I know there were people who took the first ferry they could from Vancouver, to get on a whale-watching boat in Victoria, hoping to try and see it,” a- she declared. “When a new bird appears…people really run around trying to see it.”
The Nazca Fool is not listed in the provincial retention list since he rarely goes up the west coast.
It usually breeds in warmer seas near the Galapagos Islands and Mexico. This is called a “crazy”, according to the oxford english dictionaryprobably due to the old Spanish name “pájaro bobo” – stupid bird.
Nightingale says the fall bird migration, which takes place from July, means more birds normally seen in remote locations could make it to British Columbia
“Birds can be wired incorrectly, so they’re going the wrong way. They can be deflected,” she said. “While the birds are moving, it’s the best chance for them to get into the wrong places, and therefore be a rare bird where they showed up.
“Certainly, birders get very excited when migration happens, whether it’s fall migration like we have now or spring migration where the birds are moving.”
She encourages aspiring birdwatchers to consult databases like eBird or the BC Rare Bird Alert page as the migration continues and more birds head to the province.