Friday, March 24, 2006

Albatross!

John & Shirley Tongue write: There is great excitement in our household today! (Thursday). Never having had much to do with the sea, neither of us had ever seen any of the truly pelagic birds. We've been looking to get on one of the pelagic trips, but they're mostly on Sundays, and being a church minister, that doesn't really work for me!!
Anyway, today we walked from Fortescue Bay to Cape Huay, on the Tasman Peninsula. The whole area had recently been burnt--last year I think, so bush birds were pretty unrewarding, except for three Flame Robins. However, when we got to the Cape, there was a "pod" (flock? mob?) of seals feeding off Mitre Rock, accompanied by assorted Gannets, Cormorants, Gulls and Terns. Also, to our excitement, we were able to identify a number (perhaps 15-20) Shy Albatross among them. These are supposed to be very common, especially around the Hippolytes, but they were the first Albatross-of any variety-either of us had ever seen. Certainly not a GOOD look, at them, but identifiable, and very exciting for both of us, just the same.
The photo shows Mitre Rock and the Candlestick in the foreground, and the Hippolyte Rock beyond. At this stage, the seals and the birds had gone behind Mitre rock.

4 comments:

BirdingTas said...

Hi Jihn & Shirley--your enthusiasm is surely evident in your writing! Thanks for sharing the event.I seem to remember a similar feeling (many years ago) on seeing my first albatross and wanting to point them out to those around me, before realising that it would be lost on them. BTW, I see you have a few options for collectively refering to seals. 'bob', 'harem', 'crash','herd', 'spring', 'team', 'colony'. No doubt there are others.

BirdingTas said...

Apologies John not Jihn!

Felix Wilson said...

Congratulations!
They are amazing birds to watch,

I first saw one off Cape Raoul in similar circumstances, a seal was harrying a bait ball and a couple of gulls and a single albatross were hanging round the edges getting the leftovers. The scale compared to the gulls was the most obvious identifier.

John & Shirley Tongue said...

What clinched it for us was a bird of body size about the same as the Gannets (of which there were also many around), but longer wings, and dark above with light beneath, as aginst the Gannets bright white upper-wing. Also, the white rump and dark terminal tail band was helpful.