Report by Keith Barnes.
This is undoubtedly the finest seabirding trip on Earth. The statistics simply don’t lie! The Subantarctic Islands, sandwiched between the great white continent and New Zealand and Australia, have an identity of their own, and they are packed to the rafters with penguins, albatrosses and petrels, as well as several endemic landbirds and fascinating marine mammals. In November 2011 Keith Barnes was lucky enough to venture onto the remarkable boat, the Spirit of Enderby, for Tropical Birding’s inaugural experience of this remarkable wilderness area. This trip is not really about numbers. It is about amazing wilderness experiences. But here are some impressive numbers regardless. We tallied some 42 species of tubenose seabirds, including all 14 forms of albatross available and 24 species of shearwater, petrel and prion, as well as 9 species of penguin and 10 shags! We also saw three Taiko’s, the Critically Endangered Magenta Petrel (one of six Pterodromas on the trip) that is estimated to number a grand total of 150 odd individuals. In terms of endemics we also fared exceptionally well, with 15 local seabirds and penguins, 6 endemic shags and 20 landbird and shorebird taxa restricted to these remote islands. In addition, these remote archipelagos are a nexus for threatened birds, and we saw some 46 species represented in BirdLife International’s Red data list. That is a serious quality selection of birds. But like I said, this trip is not about numbers, but about experiences.
This is a big file, but the report is loaded with photos and it is worth the wait!