Saturday, 30 June 2012

KZN Rarity spotted on Shelly Beach Boat Trip

Text by Andy Ruffle

22 members and 'Friends' of Birdlife Trogons took advantage of two boat charters, organised by the club and operated by Hot Stuff Pleasure Cruises, from Shelly Beach on 29th & 30th June.
Our skipper on both days was Mike (not Fagan), who performed perfect smooth launches, was highly informative on the trip and brought us back to dry land in an utterly thrilling manner.
If there is enough interest, Andy is considering the possibility of another charter when (and if) the Sardines arrive. However, participants would need to be able to drop everything and get to the launch site at the drop of a hat, as these little fish are very unpredictable. 
Here are the reports for each day's charter, with a very special sighting on the 30th.
Some of the photos maybe of rather suspect quality, but it gives you an idea of what can be expected on one of these trips.

29th June Boat Charter

Passengers on the 29th June charter (see list below)
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Passenger list (left to right): Nick Baglow, Willie van Zyl, Yegas Naidoo, Wilna van Zyl, Penny Taylor, Grace Kendall, Lan Yeadon (and grandson), Ann Maher and Liz. Andy Ruffle behind camera.

Unfortunately, the only birds seen this morning was a Kelp Gull and some Oystercatchers flying along the beach at Orange Rocks. This was more than made up by some absolutely stunning views of lots of Humpback Whales on their way to the breeding grounds. When you can actually see barnacles growing on these magnificent animals, with the naked eye, you know you are experiencing something really special.

Our first sighting of a Humpback Whale
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

and the sightings just kept getting better and better
(Photo Andy Ruffle)
No not a cloud on the water- this is the splash a
breaching whale makes when it hits the water
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Whale ''slapping''.
For more info on surface behaviour of whales see
the link under references at the bottom of the page
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

''A picture is worth a thousand words''
I will say no more
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

30th June Boat Charter

Passengers on the 30th June charter (see list below)
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Passenger list (left to right): Noeleen Phillips, Janet Dalton, Hazel van Rooyen, Lennart Erikkson, Evelyn Heunis, Stacy Jones, Herbie Osborne, Eileen Brannigan, Jeanette Osborne, Steve Peacock. (Andy Ruffle behind the camera)

Having been on the charter on the 29th, I didn't really think it could get any better. Oh how wrong can you be.
There definitely appeared to be more birds present today, albeit Kelp Gulls and a couple of Cape Gannets. When the skipper called a bird on the water, we really did not expect what we were about to see. To our amazement, there, bobbing around on the water, was an African Penguin. This is a truly special sighting for the KZN coast. Steve Davies, the previous chair of the KZN Rarities Committee, doesn't recall an African Penguin being seen in KZN for the past 10 years. I am waiting to find out the actual number of sightings and will then update the post.

African Penguin off Uvongo
(No it's not a rubber duck photoshopped!)
(Photo Hazel van Rooyen)

We were all rather concerned that this little critter was not going to make it back to the Cape alive, however, according to Roberts Online, first year birds are known to move into KZN waters during Jun-Oct and are probably following the sardines. This bodes well for our bird, as they presumably do return safely.

Humpback breaching- Amazing!!!!
(Photo Hazel van Rooyen)

Humpbacks ''Spyhopping''
(Photo Hazel van Rooyen)

Humpbacks frollicking- well done Hazel nice pic!!
(Photo Hazel van Rooyen)

Mike explains how the shark nets work
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Well as you can see, a truly magical experience and worth every cent. If these pics don't wet your appetite, nothing will.
I'm sure the club will be arranging more charters in the future.

Roberts online
Wikipedia- Whale surface behaviour

1 comment:

  1. Lovely Pictures & we can see you all had a wonderful experience ! What a bonus to see a Penquin.I am envious.