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Visit 2006/7 - December 30

We decide to walk from Hannay Beach along the North East coast to just opposite Boatswain Bird Island.



The landscape along this coast is pretty much free of vegetation and from time to time one comes across strange rock formations. These presumably only survive because of the very low rain fall and lack of consequent erosion.



Looking back the path is pretty clear, yet several times along the way we miss the path for a couple of hundred yards and then suddenly spot where it is and get back on track.


Then we round another corner and Boatswain Bird Island comes into view. The striking white is as much due to bird guano as rock colour. The island is very much a nesting ground as the cats and the rats never made it across the short sea crossing.




As we move along the cliff path the wind starts to pick up.




And suddenly we are not by ourselves. A lone frigate bird seems to hang almost stationary in the stiff breeze.




Soon he is joined by one of his friends, soaring above our heads, seemingly curious about what we are doing walking in the middle of nowhere amongst the barren rocks.. 




Then there are three. According to Wikipedia there are five species of Frigate Bird and they acquired their name because they can attack other sea birds. As to their flying, Wikipedia says "Frigate birds are found over tropical oceans and ride warm updrafts. Therefore, they can often be spotted riding weather fronts and can signal changing weather patterns." so they are just doing what comes naturally, although they will wait a long while for a weather front at Ascension as the  weather is so consistent due to the Trade Winds





A page on Wikipedia about the Ascension Frigate bird (Fregata aquila) says "A frigate bird found moribund in 1953 in Tiree, Scotland was identified at the time as Magnificent Frigate bird but was re-examined in 2002 and found to be an Ascension Frigate bird" so they are capable of travelling incredibly long distances.






On our way back, near Spires Rock, we spot a baby Booby in the middle of nowhere. We can't make our mind up whether it was injured or actually in  an invisible nest waiting for it's mother to return. We later learn that there are a number of boobies starting to nest on Ascension up near Spire rock now that the cats and rats have been eliminated from the island.

There is more about seabirds returning to Ascension, including a picture of a baby masked booby in almost the same place that we spotted ours on this Ascension Island conservation projects page.



As a conservation aside, it is interesting to note that on this visit we spot lots of rabbits on Green mountain which we never noticed on previous visits so one wonders if the lack of cats and rats will lead to a large increase in the rabbit population.


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