Point Danger, Victoria - Cape Gannet update and further detail

To: "" <>
Subject: Point Danger, Victoria - Cape Gannet update and further detail
From: Mª José Valencia Sánchez-Arévalo <>
Date: Mon, 7 Oct 2013 00:56:27 +0000
CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!i imagine that still you are in a dream!!I am Maria a 
spanish girl that actually i am living in Melbourne, i am very interested about 
to go to watch the Cape Gannet.Is anyone available and interested in going to 
look for the bird?thanks

M. Jo

> From: 
> To: 
> Date: Mon, 7 Oct 2013 11:10:52 +1100
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Point Danger,  Victoria - Cape Gannet update and 
> further detail
> Hi all,
> I thought I'd post an update on the Cape Gannet and site detail, for those
> that are interested.
> After Sunday's Portland pelagic, we took most participants back to the
> gannet colony to see if we could find the Cape Gannet. Unfortunately, even
> with 9 or 10 pairs of eyes and my scope, we could not relocate the bird.
> Allowing for daylight savings time, we were probably at the colony about
> three-quarters of an hour earlier than the previous day and remained for
> about 40 minutes or more looking. We left Jen Spry at the colony, and I
> believe that she is going back today to have another look.
> Point Danger is Australia's only mainland gannet colony, so when conditions
> are right, it offers unparalleled views of these birds. The colony is
> double-fenced to prevent access to the nesting birds by both people and
> foxes. Previously they had employed two dogs of the Maremma breed (used in
> Italy to protect sheep from predators) - but as we found out, this program
> had not been entirely successful at Point Danger and was now discontinued.
> The main outer fence is about 2m high and has a padlocked gate. This fence
> is perhaps 75m from the colony. The inner fence - which is now electrified -
> is about 25m from the birds. A viewing platform has been built which offers
> scope views of the colony - this platform is about 125m from the birds.
> Access to the colony is from the Madeira Packet Road, which is a longish
> loop road to the south of Portland, Victoria, very close to the aluminium
> smelter. Access to the colony is by a gravel road and is marked "Point
> Danger" (and several other nearby sites). Currently the road is severely
> potholed with several deep ruts running across the road. It is possible to
> access this road by 2WD. This road ends up at a paved circular road with car
> parking and a lookout. From this area a gated track leads to the old rifle
> range and the gannet colony. This track is clearly marked "Gannets". In my
> opinion, this track is currently impassable to 2WD vehicles and a 4WD with
> reasonable clearance would be required. The track is very deeply potholed
> and rutted with murky water covering much of it - such that it is impossible
> to tell the depth. The base of the track is solid rock, with a thin layer of
> sand and leaf litter/soil on top - getting bogged is not the issue, but
> getting a wheel stuck in one of the potholes (or damaging the underside of a
> 2WD car) would be possible. On Saturday we walked the track first, and Ruth
> subsequently went back to collect the car. On Sunday we had our vehicle plus
> two Subarus - all made it successfully. There is one particularly deep hole
> - so it pays to follow the wheel tracks of other vehicles.
> When we arrived on Saturday, we met one of the rangers/wardens/caretakers of
> the site. He told us that vandals or thieves had been there the previous
> evening and had used bolt cutters to remove the padlock and had stolen all
> the webcams and security monitoring equipment that had been installed. He
> was there to survey the damage and he told us he would be coming back to
> replace the padlock. Anyway, after seeing our cameras, lenses and scope, he
> realised that we were serious birders and allowed us access to the fenced of
> section. This allowed us to get to the electrified fence, about 25m from the
> gannets. Sure enough, when we returned on Sunday, the padlock had been
> replaced with a very serious-looking unit, and no further access other than
> to the viewing platform, or what could be seen from the gate and fence were
> available.
> On Saturday we arrived at the colony around 5pm (AEST - so 6pm
> daylight-savings time) and were basically there for an hour. We scanned the
> colony completely with binoculars and scope a couple of times, seeing
> nothing but Australasian Gannets. The number of birds on Point Danger
> appears well down from the last time that Ruth and I were there. I would
> estimate that there were around 200-300 birds, and I am sure that the last
> time we were there (a couple of years ago), there would have been closer to
> 1000 birds. Ruth and I settled in to photograph the birds - there were
> numerous pairs in courting displays, some birds already on nests and some
> birds flying in with (and fighting over) nesting material. The wind was
> strong which made photography challenging, but provided amazing
> opportunities to see the gannets wind-hovering! I was concentrating on the
> western side of the colony and Ruth was concentrating on the eastern side.
> Ruth suddenly called out, "There's a bird with a longer throat stripe!" So
> without really thinking about it, I snapped of a few shots. Then Tim Bawden
> and I checked it with binoculars - long gular stripe - check! Pale iris -
> check! All-black tail - check! To be honest, I am not sure that I could
> differentiate this bird from the Australasian Gannets by any difference in
> the golden colouring on the head and nape of neck, and - with all the calls
> from the colony, there is no possibility of differentiating this bird by
> voice (despite what some of the documentation and field guides say!)
> After about 20 minutes of photographing the bird - the first ten minutes of
> which it was grooming itself and rarely showing any of the pertinent
> features, we then had about ten minutes of it displaying in spectacular
> fashion. A truly wonderful sight! Ruth and I took about 500 photos each, I'm
> not sure how many Tim took. As we were still driving back from Portland last
> night, I haven't had the opportunity to process or publish any images yet,
> but I will try to do so this evening and tomorrow. For those interested, the
> bird was on the eastern edge of the colony, the "third from the left" at the
> time we were viewing.
> Paul Dodd
> Docklands, Victoria
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