Sunday, February 18, 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean

When I first came here, on a brief visit, I had one of those amazing wildlife experiences that stay with you. Sometimes these are the result of a long time planning being rewarded by seeing what you hoped for. Other times something simply shows up to amaze you. This was the latter kind as we drove along a hill road and a huge black bird swept around the cliffside below us. All I could do was say "holy crap; look at the size of that thing!"

It was of course a magnificient frigate bird. They are actually pretty common here but I never tire of watching their elegant grace as they glide over the harbours and hillsides. They come in 2 colour schemes; the white bib below signifies a juvenile or female.


Less commonly seen are adult males. I've enhanced this shot a little to show the all black colouration and the inflatable red throat sack used during breeding displays.


The name Frigate comes from the pirate history of the Caribbean's past. Many of the islands, bays and cays they soar over today are named for pirates, bucaneers, privateers or scoundrels of some other designation and the frigatebirds deserve their piratical name. I often see them wheel down to dunk a booby and try and grab its prey. I've even seen them hit a line of terns in what I think was a genuine attempt to predate an adult bird. There is no such thing as a lack of character in the natural world though and in spite of (or perhaps because of) their roguish ways, I still love to see them circling above me.

1 comment:

Pam in Tucson said...

Awesome photos! I'd love to see these. Great that you got the male with the red throat sac.