One of the highlights of the Point Danger experience was seeing the cape gannets. I try not to be lifer obsessed but… gannets. Yes, there would be opportunities to see them in the future and I could have seen one while combining a trip with a pelagic. Gannets take away all logic with me though.
Melanie did a brilliant job of helping us find the cape pair but despite her best efforts, I struggled to see it. Here is an explanation of how to tell the difference.
The Cape gannet has a distinctly longer black, featherless gular stripe, stretching from the base of the lower mandible down to the middle of the throat (confined to the base of the chin in the Australasian gannet); a pale orange-yellow head (more golden in the Australasian gannet); a white rather than pale grey iris; and brighter, cyan stripes down the foreleg and toes (electric blue in the Australasian gannet).
via NZ Birds Online
This bird was on the nest, so we couldn’t clearly see the gular strip. I couldn’t see the iris difference using just my lens. Fortunately, a new friend helped me see the eye up close. I may have done a little dance then because I was so excited.
There are only a few species of birds that get me really excited. Parrots. Kelp gulls. Gannets. I’m besotted. I took about 1600 photos in one hour to make sure I captured the birds and, fortunately, I did.
Melanie was speaking later and stopped suddenly. “Did you hear that call? It is a cape gannet!” We got to see the bird land, so it was easy for me to find it amongst the others.
Even if I didn’t see it, it was very helpful by putting its beak up in the air. I got to clearly see the gular stripe, which is amazing.
I’m so glad I went to Melanies talk rather then going to see it by myself. I learned so much. It’s amazing, I event learned that there is one lone Australasian gannet over at the South African colony. The following video explains.