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Bermuda - in search of the Cahow

November 5th - 12th 2014

As a continuation of the Troubled Waters project, I was invited to Bermuda to do some work on the Bermuda Petrel (Pterodroma cahow), a critically endangered seabird.  Once thought to be extinct it was rediscovered 60 years ago and since then a long-term conservation project has slowly encouraged a growth in the population.  The current research and field effort is led by Jeremy Madeiros who told me that last season there were 168 breeding pairs.

During my week in Bermuda I had times at sea watching the birds in the late afternoon a few miles offshore as they returned from the open ocean and gathered in readiness for an approach to their nesting burrows as soon as it was safe after dark.  I had times sitting in the grass watching Jeremy process birds extracted from their nesting burrows through specially designed access tubes.  Some of the birds he held briefly before putting them back so I had a chance to grab some sketches of key plumage characteristics of ‘feel’ (and smell) of these fabulous birds. And one evening I was able to sit in the growing darkness as birds came closer and closer sweeping in over their small colony calling as they went.  Ghostly shapes speeding through the feint glow from the Milky Way above.  It was a profoundly dramatic and exciting encounter absolutely full of creative potential.

For more current information about the conservation effort, currently led by Jeremy, please visit:https://www.audubon.bm/conservation/cahow

 

I watched as Jeremy Madieros, Cahow Recovery Project Manager, withdrew the birds from their breeding burrows through an access tube above the nesting chamber.I watched as Jeremy Madieros, Cahow Recovery Project Manager, withdrew the birds from their breeding burrows through an access tube above the nesting chamber.

 

 

(Above)  This is a woodcut print I made soon after getting back.  I was trying to re-create the sensation I experienced of lying back and looking up into the heavens and hearing the birds calling and wings swishing as the birds rushed about overhead silhouetted against the Milky Way.