Working for birds in Africa

Visiting

Thu, 01/10/2013 - 21:54 -- abc_admin

Birding tours

There are occasional trips which include the Antarctic Peninsula, the Weddell Sea, the South Orkneys, South Georgia, Tristan da Cunha, Nightingale Island, St. Helena and Ascension Island - a roll call of some of the most remote and romantic in the world. Add Gough Island and the legendary Inaccessible Island and you surely have the ultimate pelagic.

Most of these South Atlantic islands have enormous populations of seabirds and some endemic landbirds nesting, including the Wirebird of St Helena. The huge sea areas between them are home for much of the year to a great variety of albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters and prions, not to mention whales and dolphins. Among the many highlights should be Spectacled Petrel, Tristan Albatross, Ascension Frigatebird, egg-laying Atlantic Green Turtles, Northern Rockhopper Penguins and thousands of other penguins in Antarctica and its islands. Stand close to nesting Wandering Albatrosses, the ultimate ocean travellers. Cetacean highlights have included Humpback Whales and Orcas next to the ship in the ice, Southern Rightwhale Dolphins (2005), Spectacled Porpoise, Strap-toothed Whale, Gray’s and Arnoux’s Beaked Whales, over 40 Sperm Whales in an hour, and dolphins galore.

 

Trip reports

There are few trip reports available as such, but several papers reporting sightings on Ascension and at sea around the island have been published in Sea Swallow, the journal of the Royal Naval Birdwatching Society.

Ascension report describes a visit to Ascension as part of an army ornithological survey.

Guides

Natural history themed package trips to Ascension and St Helena from Cape Town are occasionally available on board the RMS St Helena. Contact Andrew Weir Shipping Ltd. at http://rms-st-helena.com.

Logistics

Limited air access is available to Ascension Island with the UK Royal Air Force, RAF flying from Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. Alternatively, the RMS St Helena provides a link to the island by sea. This vessel, the UK government-owned supply ship for St Helena, provides very comfortable accommodation for 120 passengers. It currently operates out of Cape Town and sails to the island approximately monthly. The voyage to Ascension, via St Helena, takes a minimum of eight days. There are currently three small hotels on St Helena but the availability of self-catering accommodation is likely to increase. Bookings for both the RMS St Helena and RAF flights to Ascension can be made through Andrew Weir Shipping Ltd. at http://rms-st-helena.com. Information on accommodation on Ascension can be found at http://www.obsidian.co.ac

Safety

Ascension is generally safe and there are no significant health risks, though bathing from some beaches can be hazardous. For the latest safety and travel information see UK FCO.

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