12 Apr 2018

12 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Fifteen: Gough Moorhen

The last Post covered my views of Tristan Thrush. After getting some quick views & photos, I was waiting for a gap between the arrival of new Birders to pop back to the viewing point in the bushes. However, before I got the chance to have another look, my Ozzy mate, Geoff Jones, arrived & asked to borrow my 100-400mm lens. I got left with his 500mm lens & 1.4 extender (which gave me the equivalent of over 1100mm as the Canon 7D has an internal magnification of 1.6 times). Clearly, I wasn't going to have a chance of getting any photos of the Tristan Thrush when it was only a couple of metres away with this big lens. About this time it dropped into the nearby gully & Geoff and an couple of other Birders followed it down into the gully. This had an immediate bonus as they disturbed a Gough Moorhen that had been quietly feeding there. It was great to see a Gough Moorhen properly, given the minimal views that we had the previous day. Even better was having Geoff's big lens when it broke cover.
Gough Moorhen: Initially it ran across the gully before attempting to hide behind this grassy tussock
Gough Moorhen: The ancestors are believed to have been the Southern African subspecies of Moorhen, rather than the Southern American subspecies of the recently split American Moorhen
Gough Moorhen: Note, the greenish legs. They have had to adapt to this long grassy habitat as there are few ponds on Tristan da Cunha
Gough Moorhen: An action shot as it broke cover along what looked to be a regular trackway
After seeing both Tristan Thrush & Gough Moorhen well, we were happy to wander back to the settlement in search of some food.
Walking back to the settlement
The local bus
A good numberplate TDC1
There was time to look around the settlement before & after a visit to the cafe, the site of some excellent chocolate cafe.
The excellent cafe was very popular
Poster of the view of the settlement
The island family tree
An old hut within the settlement
Most of the homes looked fairly modern
But some were older like this quaint small house
Our home in the distance
These flowers helped to make it look even prettier
Another view of the settlement: which is dominated by the high slopes above it
There were some nice edges to some of the gardens
The volcano erupted in 1961 & lava threatened to engulf the settlement: The lava flow is right next to the settlement
The latest lava flow: The UK government had to evacuate the islanders & they were housed in an old RAF camp in Calshot (which was alongside one of my ex-birding patches from my days of living in Southampton)
Another view of the latest lava flow: Most of the islanders returned in 1963
Time to head back to the quay
Antarctic Tern: On the quay. They have very large bills compared to Common Terns & Arctic Terns
Antarctic Tern: The apparent extent of the white forehead varied with the angle
Antarctic Tern: Flying around the Plancius
Antarctic Tern: A final flypast
Finally, we had to catch a zodiac back onto the Plancius. Leon's father, who was also the island copper, & three other locals joined us on the Plancius as we would not be allowed to land without guides on Nightingale. It was interesting hearing their commentary on the history & natural history of the two offshore islands. We sailed that evening for Nightingale Island.
One of the zodiacs heads back for another group of returning passengers
The harbour entrance
Yellow-nosed Albatross: Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross. This will be one of the final chances to see an Albatross
Yellow-nosed Albatross: Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross
Yellow-nosed Albatross: Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross. I saw 8 of the 15 species of Albatross recognised by Clements on the Odyssey
A brief view of one of the two peaks of Tristan da Cunha
Another night I didn't see the mythical green flash