Sunday, December 6, 2009


I have for a while now been thinking about going on a Pelagic Birding Trip. Last year I heard about one and told them I was interested but the more I thought about it and what it would cost me I soon realized that this was not to be my trip. Plus there was the rickety old car I was driving and this trip would have meant a 4 hour drive to and from plus two night stay in a hotel & food plus the cost of the trip and a day’s pay as I would have to take a day off from work.

This year however things came together and I got the new car, found out a friend lives very close to the departure so I had a place to stay. So I booked and paid for the trip and looked forward to it with great anticipation for a few months.

The Leader of the trip sent us all the information we needed including directions to the boat and a list of things we might need to bring along.

Sunscreen – Important!
Binoculars – imperative; however, a scope is not useful on a pelagic trip. It is better to leave it at home or in the car.
Lens cloth to clean off salt spray
Rain gear
Seat cushion – The metal seats get hard by the end of a full day. Some sort of stadium- type seat pad or cushion would help. (Bring one without a back.)
Small pillow – To help you rest on the way out and back.
Sea sickness medication – Do not forget to take it before the trip starts

Well I have been on boats before and never got seasick but all that was a long time ago and as you get older things change so I bought some Dramamine and took one pill one hour before the trip began. As for a cushion I thought a flotation cushion would work so I went to Bass Pro Shop and bought one. (Big Mistake).The rest of the stuff I had except the rain gear because they said no ponchos. So I found a waterproof jacket and took that. Not sure how that would have worked out but I was pretty sure I wouldn't need it.  OK I felt I was now ready! Bring on the Games. I was so looking forward to this.

Oh no, what this hurricane going to do. Please don't let it spoil this trip. got a another email the day before Seas were rough and they might have to cancel but things were expected to calm down so they would send another email On Saturday. Well by the time that one would come I would already be at Ormond Beach. Please, please let this trip get off!

Then the time came, I got in my car and headed north to Ormond Beach it took me the better part of 4 hours to reach my friends home. I had just spent the better part of a week with them in October catching up on old time like we hadn't, not seen each other for years. It was a great reunion. They are the BEST! And now Joye has developed an interest in birding so will be enjoying talking to her about the birds we see. I hope to get back up there and I hope too that they will come to visit me and we can go birding together down here.

Ahhhhhhh I have arrived and what is the first thing we do after I unload my car. Well go exploring of course. They were having some sort of bird Migration Festival  and bird release at the Marine Science Center's so we went to check it out. I have never been to the Marine Science Center so was looking forward to this and I was not disappointed.

The Bird release was neat too. This was a release of injured birds that had been treated and were being released back into the wild. They do great things at that Center for sure.

Then we headed over to the inlet as the last time I was there it was full of shore birds and I am now at a stage in my birding that I want to learn about the shore birds. Unfortunately there weren't as many birds this time but I did get a cute little "lifer" Piping Plover, such a tiny little thing running along the beach. We hung around a little longer then walked some of the boardwalk but didn't turn up much of anything interesting. Then we headed over to one of our favorite spots to eat and had dinner. I must say though that this place has slipped down a few notches this time. Not sure I even want to go back again.  Now for the drive home and of course we decided on some Ice Cream for dessert. Well that was a great idea, that Ice Cream  well Ritter's Frozen Custard that is. Yummy, yummy, yummy.

Once home we got into out PJ's and sat a talked  and then I begged off as I wanted to get a good night sleep. Well as it turned out I tossed and turned and tossed and turned and didn't get to sleep until like 2:30 am and I was planning to get up at 4 as I wanted to grabbed something to eat and I had a 30 minute drive  to someplace I hadn't been, so wanted to leave early and allow  myself the time.  Well I got up grabbed a yogurt and soon felt awake and made the drive and found the boat place and then had to stand and wait to get aboard the boat. To place to sit and couldn't sit in the car as we had to park in a different lot.

Before boarding of course they read us the rules and regulations and had a roll call (necessary I guess). Finally we were allowed to board. OMG! I have to go up that narrow plank with nothing but those skinny ropes to hold on to???? Yikes! But I did it no problem. Now there is no way I am going to climb up to the upper deck. So let see where do I want to sit? Well I finally found a space on the Port side of the boat and settled in. This was the shady side so I didn’t have the sun in my eye though it was probably warmer on the other side. As it turned out it was not the best seat in the house as they were cutting up fish in back of me to try to attract the birds to come in and fish water was splashing all over the place and my carry on bags were totally wet and fishy by the time we docked 12 hours later.
OK, sunrise and we are getting underway (Please Lord don't let me get sea sick) It's a little chilly but I am OK . Away we go and it was a nice ride to the inlet not too rough and we saw lots of birds. I didn't try to take pictures as it was still pretty dark and the moving boat and flying birds were beyond my capabilities. So I just sat back and enjoyed the ride, besides they were the usual birds that one is apt to see on the Wetlands or the seashore. I was waiting for the Pelagic Birds.

OK now we are approaching the inlet and the swell are a little higher and we ride up & over kind of like riding over hills and vales in the roads in Maine. Up and over and down and your stomach isn't where it is suppose to be but it feels good and the salt air is refreshing and it's a great day to be alive.

Soon the spotters are calling out birds they see but I can't hear them from where I am sitting and I wasn't alone. Seems the PA system doesn't work in that section. Great! So I see a bird and I take a picture figuring I can maybe ID it when I get back home. This activity goes one for a period of time and the sun has long risen and I am getting a little warm and thinking about getting something to eat. But the boat is moving fast and I can't seem to get my sea legs so I stay put.  Maybe when they slow down a little I will be able to get into the area where the food is. I have a couple of snacks and plenty of water so that will sustain me for a while. But I think that I shouldn't drink too much or I will need to go and not sure I can make it to the bathroom. So I make the decision not to drink too much liquid.

So the spotters call out for birds and the boat slows down but I am afraid to miss out on something so I keep looking and photographing. By late afternoon I am really hungry but when I think I can try to get to the food the boat speeds up and I am stuck again. I am also afraid to be inside as the only time I got sea sick I was below deck and once back out into the open I was OK.

At least now someone is passing along the names of the bird they are spotting but I still can't get my feet under me enough to get very far. I think because the railings on the boat were so low and I was carrying so much gear I was afraid I would if the boat turned just right go over the rail and into the sea. So although I finally did get up and move a little to get some pictures I still didn't feel comfortable moving too far from my seat and stayed put the whole trip.

Not only was I loaded with camera and binoculars but stashed under my seat were two canvas bags and a camera case with extra batteries and flash cards should I need them and of course I was well dressed in layers as suggested. The bags as it turned out got saturated with fishy water from the fish they were cutting up and using as bait to draw in the birds. Should I ever decide I want to try this again I need to get something water proof to stow my gear in. Not at all sure what that would be but will keep my eye out just in case I ever forget just how miserable I ended up being. Because as it turns out I didn't eat (except for 2 small breakfast bars) and I didn't go to the bathroom for those 12 long hours on that boat.

Late in the afternoon and thinking we were on the way in I pulled out my cushion to see if I could get more comfortable but that didn't work If anything the flotation cushion was harder to sit on the molded bench. I soon got rid of that. Now I am getting really hungry, I am tired (didn't get much sleep last night) and I am more than a little concerned that I don't feel the need to go to the bathroom???? and my fanny is screaming in pain and this bloody boat trip won't end. I am miserable!!!

Luckily I was sitting with a really nice couple and they provided a little distraction, plus there was the girl from GA and the young lady from up north and a young couple he seemed more interested in the birds and she in photography.

Look land!  hopefully we will be home soon.  Oh no once you see land you are still 3 hours out???  Can that be? God I want of this boat now!

The sun is setting how pretty wish I was on the other side to photograph the lighthouse as we head in. Look at these beautiful homes what it must be like to live here. What views they must have.

Now why are we just sitting here why don't they raise the bridge so we can get off this boat?

Finally we are moving again and now we are at the dock. Hurray! Now I have only to find my way back to Joye's place in the dark and it is hour away................and there will be food ................and a bathroom...................and a shower....................and sleep..........and tomorrow the 4 hour ride home. Oh the things I do to see a bird!

List of birds see on this trip can be found here.

The End! and at the time I thought it would be the end of such trips for me. But now that some time has past I might consider another going on another one at some  in my life and have been keeping an eye open for things to make it a more enjoyable experience for myself.....Comfort and ease of movement being top priorities. I have even been looking into some off the Oregon