Positive check on the island's wildlife

Administrator and Chief Islander visit Nightingale Island

Report and Photographs from Tristan Administrator Philip Kendall

View from the RIB on the outward journey with distant views of
Inaccessible (right) and Nightingale (left) Islands as Tristan's Bluff is passed (near left).

Approaching Nightingale Island

On Tuesday 6th February, James Glass and I went to Nightingale Island, for what was my first visit there. We took a last minute decision to go, as the weather was perfect. The main reason for going was to check that the Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak in other parts of the world had not reached our shores. I’m pleased to report that there were no signs of HPAI during our visit.

What we did see was an abundance of healthy albatross chicks and their parents, together with some cheeky seals and penguins who were on hand to great us.

There was something uniquely magical, sitting on the island with James, surrounded by albatross chicks whilst the adults soared over our heads. At that moment I realised that we were the only two humans on that beautiful island.

Sub-Antarctic Fur Seals on the rock. A Tristan Thrush or Starchy
Northern Rockhopper Penguins moulting on the rock - the breeding season has finished
but adults need to return to land to moult as they lose their buoyancy and must fast during this time.

Above: A wary downy Atlantic Yellow-Nosed Albatross
or Molly chick. Approach with caution!

Left: Philip Kendall by the Nightingale Welcome Board
(See larger image below for details)

Welcome Board showing bird species found on Nightingale Island's rat and mouse-free environment.

Left: Chief Islander James Glass
views a Great Shearwater,
known by islanders as a Petrel.

Millions of these birds occupy burrows
beneath the Nightingale tussock grass.

Eggs are laid in November,
chicks hatch in January and fledge by May,
following adults on an amazing migration
to winter feeding grounds in the North Atlantic,
before returning again the next year.

The species is near-endemic to the Tristan islands.

Map of Nightingale and its satellite islets.

Philip approaching the Ponds with a Molly chick on its pedestal nest behind.

Philip at the Ponds. This marshy area with lower bog ferns provide
the main Nightingale breeding ground for the Atlantic Yellow-Nosed Albatross or Molly.
Endemic to the Tristan islands, these magnificent seabirds are the smallest albatross species.