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Maalu IV - Day 10 Freeloaders and Chancers

Day 10 became an ornithological treat. Just as the sun was rising Iona was startled by a commotion in the cockpit. Further investigation revealed a feathered friend had come to keep her company. He was promptly named Larry and left to recover his composure. Several hours later he was still sitting , amongst our ropes, in the corner looking quite perky. He was offered a bowl of water, but refused it which was probably for the best because as a seabird he will be used to salt water; he probably thought that we were trying to poison him. Clearly he didn't have a vertical take off mode so he couldn't extricate himself from our deep cockpit. We had nothing suitable to feed him so it seemed imperative to free him from his self imposed imprisonment. On the basis that he can't have had much human contact before we determined that he probably wouldn't be too afraid off being picked up. He was gently set down on our stern deck where he looked rather bemused. He was offered a small dead flying fish which he pecked at but was clearly as disinterested in eating it as we were. Over the next few minutes he took a few tentative steps and then suddenly he launched into the air to the cheers of the on looking crew. Clearly he was none the worse for his rest as he competently swooped off over the waves. So what was he? He had two distinctive features; his cute little webbed feet and his rather oversized and ugly beak. Access to Google was 1600 nm away so it was time to resort to the onboard library. Would "Birds of Great Britain and Europe" be of any help? And yes, I did know we were half way between Africa and the Caribbean. Our little friend was identified as a Petrel, a member of the "Tube-Nose" Family of birds. He (the males and females are indistinguishable),  spends his life at sea only going to land to breed. He picks up small tasty morsels from the surface of the sea so I suppose his bony nostrils on top of his nose are to avoid him getting a nose-full of seawater as he catches his dinner. He was tiny (20cm long) so all respect to such an amazing little bird and we didn't mind him being a freeloader.
Three hours later and we are visited by a much bigger bird. Pure white, puffed out chest and long trailing legs and tail feathers. He definitely looked more like a land bird. He was not in the book of "Birds of Great Britain and Europe", nor in "Wildlife of the Caribbean". Our resources were exhausted and identification will have to wait until Google is available in about ten days! Anyway he made numerous circuits of Maalu IV before attempting to land on our solar panel array over our stern. He slid off in a flurry of legs and wings, managing to get himself back into flight for further inspection of our yacht. A second attempted landing also ended in complete failure at which point he gave up trying to use us as a landing pad. When the skipper fashioned our stern solar panels in Las Palmas, he was not expecting them to be used as a landing pad by any passing bird. Fortunately they do not seem to have sustained any damage from their bird-related interactions.
These visitors have been a welcome upgrade to the standard North Sea visitors we are used to receiving in the form of homing pigeons.

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