Birds at sea

A few years ago I was invited by my friends Heinz Plenge (possibly the best wildlife photographer in Peru) and Rob Williams (bird expert and photographer) to come along on a boat trip. The aim was to photograph birds at sea. We hired a fisherman and his boat in Pimentel in northern Peru and bought a bucketful of small fish from him. We drove straight out on the Pacific Ocean and kept on driving for about an hour and a half. We had hoped to see some birds so we could start throwing some of the fish out to attract them. But apart from the odd gull, the ocean was empty, not a bird in sight.

A Blue-footed booby adjusting its grip of the fish by throwing it in the air, mid flight. © Daniel Rosengren

A Blue-footed booby adjusting its grip of the fish by throwing it in the air, mid flight. © Daniel Rosengren

The boobies came in with some height, folded their wings behind their back and shot down into the water like torpedoes and came up again with fish in their beaks

A Blue-footed booby in search of fish. © Daniel Rosengren

A Blue-footed booby in search of fish. © Daniel Rosengren

Rob decided that we should just try and throw a few fish in and see what happens. It was like magic, within a minute or two, gulls arrived, followed by terns, jaegers, blue-footed boobies and even one individual of the critically endangered Waved albatross. It seemed like they all came out of nowhere.

The critically endangered Waved albatross water skiing on the surface as it is landing. © Daniel Rosengren

The critically endangered Waved albatross water skiing on the surface as it is landing. © Daniel Rosengren

The critically endangered Waved albatross taking off by running on the surface to gain enough speed. © Daniel Rosengren

The critically endangered Waved albatross taking off by running on the surface to gain enough speed. © Daniel Rosengren

A feeding frenzy started, the gulls and terns were swooping down to pick up the fish from the surface. The boobies came in with some height, folded their wings behind their back and shot down into the water like torpedoes and came up again with fish in their beaks. The albatross settled on the water and swam around while picking up the fish.

A Blue-footed booby turning mid air, about to plunge into the ocean. © Daniel Rosengren

A Blue-footed booby turning mid air, about to plunge into the ocean. © Daniel Rosengren

A Blue-footed booby diving into the ocean, just about to grab a fish under the surface. © Daniel Rosengren

A Blue-footed booby diving into the ocean, just about to grab a fish under the surface. © Daniel Rosengren

A Blue-footed booby emerging from the water with a fish. © Daniel Rosengren

A Blue-footed booby emerging from the water with a fish. © Daniel Rosengren

We had more birds around us than we could photograph. The cameras ran warm. I tried to get as much of the action as possible. The boobies were fantastic with their aerial acrobatics, blue feet and intense eyes.

Peruvian pelicans arriving at the feeding frenzy. © Daniel Rosengren

Peruvian pelicans arriving at the feeding frenzy. © Daniel Rosengren

Suddenly a group of Peruvian pelicans came in. That, more or less, meant the end of the feast for the rest of the birds. The pelicans took over completely. Being much bigger than the rest of the birds and scooping the fish with their enormous beaks they soon finished the fish and it was all over. The birds slowly disappeared again and we returned to shore, very happy with what we just experienced and hopeful that we’d have some nice photos in our cameras with us.

A Peruvian pelican arriving at the feeding frenzy. © Daniel Rosengren

A Peruvian pelican arriving at the feeding frenzy. © Daniel Rosengren

A Peruvian pelican scooping a fish with its massive beak. © Daniel Rosengren

A Peruvian pelican scooping a fish with its massive beak. © Daniel Rosengren

See more photos in the Peru Gallery