PELAGIC BIRDS & BIRDING
MULTIMEDIA IDENTIFICATION GUIDES
It is an exciting time for those interested in pelagic birds and birding. The understanding of seabirds is progressing dramatically in areas like taxonomy and field identification. This is marked by new field guides and a growth in journal articles. There is a reinforcing relationship between such developments and the rapid expansion over the last 20 years of pelagic birding into the accessible ocean and, more recently, into the remote ocean.
For the pelagic birder, field guides and journal articles assist identification through text, artwork, photographs, and of late also through sound. There is much value in these media. However, individually and collectively they struggle to bring to life the bird in motion. Yet, it is the bird in motion that first and foremost confronts the pelagic birder as it travels, forages, and feeds. The relevant medium here is video and it is the main purpose of this project to investigate pelagic birds and birding through a wide selection of video clips, supported by other media. Video footage is unique in pelagic birds identification guides and and warrants further introduction.
A professional wanting to compile a comprehensive collection of video clips of all pelagic birds of the world would have to commit a life-time’s work to the project, and invest literally millions of dollars. The project would require travel to many remote and inaccessible locations. Such a dream is beyond our means.
Our collection of amateur video footage is representative of pelagic bird families and regions. Some families and regions are better represented than others. Pterodroma petrels and Puffinus shearwaters are diverse and widespread, a number are extremely rare, many inhabit remote and inaccessible locations, and these families are least well represented. The remote Pacific remains one of the most inaccessible regions and this is reflected in our work. However, we believe that our footage as a whole offers an acceptable introduction to pelagic birds across the world that is educational and, we anticipate, a joy to watch for all pelagic bird lovers.
Most footage was taken in relatively accessible locations including: the Southwest Approaches of the English Channel, the Canary Current, the Gulf Stream off North America, the Benguela Current, the Humboldt Current, the California Current, the Yellow Sea, Australasian waters, the Drake Passage, and around the Antarctic Peninsula. Some footage was shot in the less accessible waters of the South Atlantic and Pacific islands.
Although we have secured both ‘in the hand’ and ‘at the nest’ footage, most clips were taken whilst at sea, off vessels of various sizes: large ocean-going ferries, expedition cruisers, tripper-launches, motorboats, and even small Zodiacs.
Videography is not easy. Pelagic birding is amongst the most challenging of birding pursuits, and videoing birds at sea a challenge beyond. Everything is on the move and at times moves in opposing ways. Birds are in flight. Marine vessels traverse ever-changing and sometimes mountainous sea surface contours. The videographer is anything but static. Even when conditions are favorable, a rare occasion indeed, who is to say that the target quarry will turn up, come near to the vessel, or stay for more than a moment?
Securing desired video footage is tricky and the process at times is frustrating. All too often a videographer has to be satisfied with a small image, a brief sequence, or both. Results can be light impaired: colors burnt out in strong sunlight, or images grainy on a dull day. Still, with perseverance and improving technology, we believe that we have compiled a worthwhile video collection worthy of sharing with you.
Our guides present original footage on DVD without unnecessary special effects, creating an experience much like looking through binoculars. Narration is informative and avoids confusing jargon. Each guide comes with a substantial book that offers further detailed explanation; and illustrates key points with maps, photographs, and artwork. The DVD-book combination provides a fresh, instructive, and animated multimedia approach to identification.
Bob Flood and Ashley Fisher, Isles of Scilly, UK, June 2016
Multimedia Identification GuidesStorm-petrels & Bulwer's Petrel Click here
Pterodroma Petrels Click here
Albatrosses & Fulmarine Petrels Click here