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Uncommon Nazca booby chook sighting close to Vancouver Island leaves boat captain, whale watchers amazed

A Duncan, B.C. boat captain says it was the “spotlight of her birding profession” when she acquired a glimpse of a rarely-seen South American chook whereas out on a tour just a few weeks in the past.

Tasli Shaw says she was on a full-day boat journey within the Salish Sea on July 23 when she observed a chook that appeared completely different from the standard gulls she’s seen over her 13-year profession, simply south of Trial Islands near Victoria.

“[It] instantly registered as a stranger to the birder facet of my mind,” mentioned Shaw, who works for the Ocean Ecoventures whale-watching firm in Cowichan Bay on Vancouver Island. 

“The way in which it was flapping its wings was very completely different from a gull species. It had very distinctive black bars on its wings as nicely.”

Shaw says she instantly “jumped into motion” and managed to get a video of the chook — which turned out to be a Nazca booby, a seabird native to the east Pacific, round Central America.

WATCH | Uncommon Nazca booby chook sighted close to Path Islands off coast of Vancouver Island

Uncommon chook sighted close to Path Islands off coast of Vancouver Island

Tasli Shaw was capable of get video of a Nazca booby on July 23 — solely the third time a sighting has been confirmed in B.C.

It is solely the third confirmed sighting of the chook within the province, in response to B.C. Uncommon Chook Alert.

“This sighting was very significant … to have the privilege to seek out solely the third confirmed Nazca booby within the province,” Shaw mentioned. “It was the spotlight of my birding profession.”

Shaw mentioned the boat, with a variety of curious passengers, was rocking within the tough sea. The chook itself was transferring erratically.

She mentioned as soon as she defined to passengers what she was doing — “driving a giant circle, making an attempt to maintain up with the chook and get good photographs of it” — and the way uncommon the chook was, they had been “very amazed.”

On a visit that included sightings of a humpback whale and calf, and a harbour seal giving delivery, the Nazca booby sighting was nonetheless the spotlight, she mentioned.

“I really feel very privileged to get to be on the water a lot, and I expertise the entire different superb seabirds that we’ve got dwelling right here,” she mentioned. “To have the uncommon chook go by means of is a cherry on the cake.”

A seabird with a large bill sits on what appears to be a log. It has black bars on its wings and is otherwise white in colour.
Boat captain Matt Stolmeier, who took this image, mentioned many had been on excessive alert for the chook after being notified of Shaw’s sighting. (Matt Stolmeier)

Matt Stolmeier, one other boat captain who managed to get high-resolution photos of the chook a day after Shaw’s sighting, mentioned he spun his boat round as soon as he observed the chook within the nook of his eye.

“Our community of wildlife guides and naturalists had been notified of Tasli’s sighting, so many people had been on excessive alert for this chook,” he mentioned. “It was a really thrilling discover.”

Migratory season nonetheless occurring

Ann Nightingale, a volunteer with the Rocky Level Chook Observatory, mentioned she chartered a ship after the information of the Nazca booby sighting unfold, however she was unsuccessful in crossing paths with it.

“I do know that there have been individuals who acquired on the primary ferry they might from Vancouver, to get onto a whale watching boat in Victoria, in hopes of making an attempt to see it,” she mentioned. “When a brand new chook reveals up … folks actually run to try to see it.”

A seabird with a large bill sits on what appears to be a log. It has black bars on its wings and is otherwise white in colour.
The Nazca booby is native to the east Pacific, within the Galapagos Islands and close to Mexico. The chook has solely been seen 3 times within the province, in response to B.C. Uncommon Chook Alert. (Matt Stolmeier)

The Nazca booby will not be listed within the provincial conservation listing given how hardly ever it makes its method up the west coast.

It sometimes breeds in hotter seas close to the Galapagos Islands and Mexico. It’s referred to as a “booby”, in response to the Oxford English Dictionary, seemingly as a result of outdated Spanish identify “pájaro bobo” — silly chook.

Nightingale says the autumn migration for birds, which occurs beginning July, means extra birds usually seen in far-off locales might make their solution to B.C.

“Birds could also be wired incorrectly in order that they go the improper method. They might get blown off beam,” she mentioned. “Whereas birds are on the transfer, it is the perfect likelihood for them to get into the improper locations, and due to this fact, be a uncommon chook the place they’ve proven up.

“Undoubtedly, birders are fairly excited when migration occurs, whether or not it is the autumn migration like we’ve got now or spring migration the place birds are transferring.”

She encourages aspiring birders to take a look at databases like eBird or the B.C. Uncommon Chook Alert web page as migration continues and extra birds make their solution to the province.

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