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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Gannet Safari

There was no Saturday morning lie today as we were booked for the Gannet Safari trip. The group climbed aboard the six 4wheel drive buses and we set off at 9:00am for our trip to the Gannet Colony.

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The trip took us through Clifton Station, then also travelled through Cape Kidnappers Station. This huge property has diversified in recent years and now offers golfing together with exclusive lodge accommodation for those who can afford such luxurious surroundings. The trip started off driving through a deep gorge, then we moved up and down over the well grassed covered hills, through one farm gate after another.

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The gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers is the largest mainland colony of gannets in the world. The birds seem oblivious to the many tourists and their cameras and just go about their business. Parent birds fly in and their large grey chick taps frantically at the parent’s beak so that they disgorge the fish they are holding in their crop. The colony is full of noise and moving birds as they preen, flap their wings, and discourage their neighbours from getting too close to each other.

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There is another breeding colony on a flat outcrop, part of the dramatic landscape that has been eroded over time. Fingers of rock bear witness to the power of the surging sea. These birds are well away from tourists and their clicking cameras.

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A small solar powered lighthouse is perched on the edge of the cliff. Hastings is well known for it’s long sunny days so this is certainly making the most of new technology.

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We had visited the gannet colony some years ago travelling around the beach and this overland trip saved a very steep walk up the cliffs. As always, we were amazed just how close we could get to the birds, and how unaffected they seemed to be by our presence. It is a trip to be recommended.

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