Birdwatching off Gough Island

We are currently at 39.45 South – not quite in the ‘roaring forties’, although we may dip into the later today. We are sailing between Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island – we can see Gough about 30 miles away to the South – Land Ho!
It’s beautiful clear weather, cool as you’d expect for early spring, with about 16 knots of breeze and almost smooth seas – interrupted by occasional big swells from the south, just to let us know the Southern Ocean is down there. As we’ve got closer to the islands, bird life has really increased. We’ve seen our first albatrosses. (Thank you Jo L, for the bird book recommendation – it’s really helped!) – of the smaller black backed variety, which makes them mollymawks as far as I can tell. The ones we have seen have a distinct black beak – they could be Atlantic Yellow Chinned (or is it nosed) or the Indian kind. We definitely have a White Chinned petrel or two soaring in our wake, and possibly a Sooty ALbatross too, keeping a respectful distance. This morning, as dawn broke with gorgeous colours, hinting at Africa ahead, a Sooty Petrel made several attempts to land on the top of the spinnaker – all doomed to failure as he has no grip with his webbed feet. In the end he flew away and plopped down in the water about 20 yards behind us, no doubt with a disgruntled sigh, if we could have heard it.
There are also numerous smaller birds around now – flocks of little petrels or shearwaters and many black and white ones in ones and twos – too many to attempt to identify!
Aside from bird watching we’ve had gorgeous spinnaker sailing – clear sunny days and bright moonlit nights. Bread production is up for midnight snacks, and with the water maker now fully operational, the tea ration has increased to at least one cup a day. We are wearing a lot of layers, especially at night. We look like Telly Tubbies moving around the deck – it’d be interesting to compare a video of us performing an evolution with one of a Volvo Ocean Race team doing a similar thing. Do they look like children’s TV characters too?
So life is good on HL50YOPS. Today during our afternoon watch we discovered that John/Barry has most of the Rocky Horror Show memorized, and also a recording on his iPod, so we’re thinking of making a team outing to the sing-a-long version when we’re in San Francisco. So get practising if you’re joining us later.

3 thoughts on “Birdwatching off Gough Island

  1. Actually I mispoke – it was a Sooty Shearwater that tried to land on the kite – silvery underwing clearly visible. I have a hard time keeping my petrels and shearwaters straight – Sarah

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