I saw this view from my cabin window
When I got on deck, I saw a flock of birds flying about near our ship - with the bird islet in the back ground...
Our itinerary for the day was a morning sortie at Bird Islet, our last, then reposition the ship to the South Atoll. Along the way, we will pass by the Ranger Station. So after breakfast, we all piled up in the bigger speedboat and set off for the Bird Islet. The priority for the day was to find the Masked Booby. One feature of the Bird Islet is that there is a depression on the ground in the middle of the islet (similar to a saucer). So from our speedboat (at 100 meters away), it is difficult for us to see the birds sitting in the middle of the island. To help with that, two of our companions, Martin and Mark, decided to bring along two monobloc lounging chairs. The idea is they will stand on these chairs while we are cruising around the islet. That way, they may be able to see the middle of the islet.
As we were approaching Bird Islet, somebody, (I believe it was Rommel), suddenly shouted, Tiger Shark! And we saw this big black fish, almost as long as our boat, glide by. I brought up my camera but it was gone in a flash. We resumed circling the island with two of our companions, Mark and Martin, standing on lounging chairs in an effort to find the Masked Booby. Meanwhile, I continued shooting whatever I can point my camera to.
A pair of Brown Boobies sandwiching a Red-footed Booby
Greater Frigate Bird (fem) with what looks like a Great Crested Tern
Two Greater Frigate Birds and one Great Crested Tern
Two Greater Frigate Birds and two Great Crested Terns
Two Greater Frigate Birds (fem)
At one point the Tubbataha Rangers approached the Bird Islet - they were probably on routine patrol to make sure none set foot on the island and stayed at the prescribed distance. We momentarily stopped so we could talk with them and ask if there was indeed a Masked Booby this year. They said there was but could not really pinpoint where. So after they left, we continued our circling.
Birds flying about...
At one point, somebody shouted Marble Ray and pointed to the water. I snapped a burst of shots, all of them blurry. Sharing one that at least shows its general shape.
Marble Ray (a super docu shot, as we birders are fond of saying)
For whatever reason, the birds seemed more restless that morning.
One portion of the sky was overcast but it did give a different feel to the BIF photos. Sharing a couple of them.
Red-footed Booby with a rain cloud for a background
Great Crested Tern with a nimbus cloud for a background
A portion of the Bird Islet
Then somebody yelled again that the Tiger Shark was back. This time it came even closer to our boat! I was able to take a couple of decent docu shots.
At one point it passed between our speedboat and the smaller speedboat from Narayana which was following us.
The dark shape in the water is the Tiger Shark which was probably about two-thirds the length of our speedboats.
A portion of the Bird Islet, I wonder how it feels to actually set foot on the island
Soon it was time for us to go but before we do that, one more last fly-by from a friendly Brown Booby. These are actually my favorite shots from among the many BIF's (bird-in-flight) shots of this bird.
My last views of the bird islet....
My last views of the Bird Islet
Our ship, M/Y Narayana as seen from a distance...
After we got back on board, we set sail for the Ranger Station, which was situated at the southern end of the North Atoll, about forty-five minutes away.
The Ranger Station - home to Tubbataha Rangers who are stationed in this "house" for two straight months before they are rotated.
It was high tide so much of the sand bar around the station was submerged in waist deep waters. There is no cellphone signal. I am not sure if there is internet. They have a radio. But the view all around was spectacular... and there were big Sea Turles swimming beside the ranger station!
There were a few birds on the small sandbar, mostly Great Crested Terns.
Great Crested Terns
Great Crested Terns
Great Crested Tern
Pacific Reef Egrets
After the Ranger Station visit, we set sail for the South Atoll, which was a couple of hours away. Rommel told me that the Black Noddies were easier to photograph there so I was looking forward to that. Alas, this is what we saw when we reached our mooring site - a spot near Delsan Wreck.
The South Atoll with the lighthouse under construction
Since construction was in full swing, it was decided that it was not worth going to it anymore. We did some snorkeling - it was awesome! - would have been nice if I had our Go Pro with me :-(.
Later in the afternoon, we took the speedboat and cruised around Delsan Wreck and got some good shots...
Red-footed Boobies flying high...
... and low
Sunset at Delsan Wreck... its anchor sticking out like excalibur
Delsan Wreck in the foreground and the South Atoll Lighthouse in the background
One of my favorite shots of this trip.
Later that night, as we were cruising to Cavili Island, I sat in one of the lounging chairs at the back of the boat, sipping a cold beer while enjoying the cool night air and the sea breeze and silently gave a prayer of thanks to our Lord for enabling me to go on this trip, and of course to Lorna for allowing me to go, my boys Luis and Leon who were taking care of their Lola and our house, my mother's caregiver, and my staff at Darayonan.