Day: January 8, 2010

I love these Cleopatra birds

mother and chick

It’s absolutely amazing.  I had no idea that you could get so near to them.” Gary, from England, was astonished. “So close they’re touchable!” he said.  Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve was the main reason he had come to Napier.  Already his trip had been worth it. It was great to witness to his enjoyment in one of my favourite places.

Face to face these birds are amazing.  With a wingspan of 1.8 to 2 metres, these members of the booby family live in the world’s largest, and most spectacular, mainland nesting colony. Their pale honey-gold heads and Cleopatra eyes are impressive singly, however when multiplied by 15,000 it’s spectacular and watching them fish as they swoop and dive from great heights is wonderful.

“Whew, it smells like a zoo” said one of my companions when we arrived at the Black Reef colony. It was early in the nesting season and most were sitting on eggs. A few newly hatched chicks were visible from under the protective feathers of the parent, little bundles of white fluff oblivious to the pungent odour. Over-head, parents are gliding, soaring, hovering and bringing gifts of seaweed streamers as well as fish to feed the youngsters who have to develop before they to fly to Australia in a few weeks. When the adults land, we watch as they greet each other, necking and preening as they reunite

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