24 Dec 2020

A Gannety Christmas

From Nine To Noon, 11:30 am on 24 December 2020

Tony Morris from Gannet Safaris  will spend the Christmas morning with the Cape Kidnappers gannets taking a group to the colony to have breakfast there.

Morris tells Kathryn Ryan the influx of domestic visitors to the region in recent months has prompted the yuletide venture and there will be bubbles and Christmas treats served at the Cape Kidnappers plateau.

“We lost 60 percent of overseas and cruise ship passengers, but locals are generally travelling more so we’re seeing plenty of them. We’re not as busy as we’d like to be, but a lot better than a lot of people.”

He says the plateau hosts the world’s largest and most successful colony of gannets and the guests will be spending around 45 minutes right up beside them. That’s where bubbles and mince pies will be served.

Meanwhile, on the gannets Christmas menu is nothing but fish as per usual.

“Herrings, squid, any other fish they can find.”

Morris says gannets are “stunning” birds up close. The adults have a wingspan of around two metres.

“At the moment we’ve got all the adults there, about 9000 individual birds on the top colony.”

He says there’s a lot of noise and people will be able to watch adults bringing in food for their chicks and seaweed to reinforce nests.

The first chick hatched on the colony around 11 November and the birds will stay there until around the end of April.

“Then the water starts to cool and the fish stocks they need to feed on will head away north.”

The chicks make their maiden flight at around four months old and it’s a non-stop 7-10 day journey to the east coast of Australia where they will live for the next three to five years.

Morris says the birds like being close together because it makes them feel safe. Nonetheless, they do squabble with one another a little bit.