Today seemed to be another amazing Bird Watching Trip on our trusty vessel, Dream Catcher. We were able to sight some of the area’s iconic birdlife at sea such as the Northern Giant Petrel, the beautiful Cape Gannet and of course the endangered African Penguin.
We first spotted the Penguins on Dyer Island which is extremely rare for us as they generally get lost in sight amongst the thousands of Cape Cormorants. This was not always the case for these birds however, in the last twenty years the African Penguin population has dropped by 90%. The Dyer Island Conservation Trust is working tirelessly to help conserve these birds by opening the African Penguin and Sea Bird Sanctuary to aid in rehabilitating injured and sick birds before they return to the wild. Currently the biggest threat to these birds is starvation, overfishing has led the birds to traveling over 60km a day to find fish and many of the penguins we rescue are malnourished. The average penguin in our sanctuary consumes around 420 sardines during its stay. As well as helping to feed the birds, the trust has been developing penguin houses for our 900 breeding pairs on the island, a small fraction of what their numbers once were.
We were able to see three Northern Giant Petrels on our trip today, one over De Clyde, one in shark alley and another that was taking a bath just in front of the island. These massive sea birds can be distinguished from the Southern Giant Petrel that also frequents our waters by the colouration of the bill tip, the southern has a green bill and the northern and red bill. The one seen in the alley was an older bird, most petrels are a dark brown or black but like us, start to lose colour and appear white as they age.
Throughout the trip species of turns and cormorants were also seen flying around our vessel. To wrap up our wondrous birding adventure, a lone Cape Gannet was spotted gliding on the port side of the boat. These truly gorgeous birds are easily recognisable by their distinct yellow head and blue eye ring. They are often seen plummeting into the ocean at speeds of up to 100km an hour in pursuit of fish. What an amazing adventure on our sea safari.
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