"Hi. If you want to quickly fly down to Cape Town, I will be leaving tomorrow morning at 07:00 to see if I can pick up the Macaroni Penguin for my life list."
This email of mine set the wheels in motion for a whirlwind visit from Johann.
After some emails flying around on Monday morning, Johann had a ticket booked down to Cape Town for the Monday evening, landing at 20:40. After enjoying a hamburger at the airport and catching up on things we set off to Gordon’s Bay. We found a bed for Johann in our guest room (read third bedroom used as a store room with a bunkbed in it) and after a little shut-eye it was wake-up call time at 04:30 on Tuesday morning as we set off to Brandfontein near Agulhas in search of the MEGA tick, a moulting Macaroni Penguin.
With Johann’s return flight leaving at 18:30 on Tuesday evening we were pressed for time but a 3 hour trip does not suddenly become a 2 hour trip however much one wish it to become one. Well maybe if you are willing to add a hefty speeding fine to your trip expense which I decided was not worth it.
Trying to make up time to get to the spot, we did not do a lot of birding enroute but did manage list about 50 birds before we got to the site including 1 lifer for Johann (Large-billed Lark)
Arriving at Brandfontein around 09:00 (we took the last 20 km slowly (took an hour) as we knew we had some time to play with) we made our way down to the beach and first walk right pass the bird which was sitting on a huge rock while we were scanning down on the ground. Photos were taken, congratulations given on a new lifer (one which will probably not come around quickly again). After spending about an hour at the site, Johann remarked that taking the cost of the plane ticket into account, his two lifers cost R600 each. I thought we better work at the cost per lifer and suggested we head in Rooiels’ direction to see if we can connect with the Cape Rock-jumpers. While leaving the car park we added a Grey-backed Cisticola to Johann’s tally of lifers.
Enroute Johann mentioned that he still needed African (Jackass) Penguin for his list so I said we’ll pop into Stoney Point at Betty’s Bay for them and then we can also add Cape Cormorant to his list. After a 2 hour drive we were at Stoney Point and in 15 minutes added African Penguin, Cape- and Bank Cormorant to Johann’s list and left for Rooiels with Johann on 6 lifers or R200 per lifer, much better.
Arriving at Rooiels we had about one hour to hook up with the Rock-jumpers before we had leave for the airport. I’ve never visited the Rooiels sight so late in the day so was wondering what to expect as I normally find the Rock-jumpers early morning. We did manage to add Orange-breasted Sunbird to Johann’s list but unfortunately we dipped on the Cape Rock-jumpers and also the Cape Sugarbirds, but 7 lifers at R172 each is not too bad.
Now time was running out and we made our way back to the airport via the coastal drive from Rooiels to Gordon’s Bay and then the airport.
19 hours, 480 kilometres, 86 birds (the once I could remember, Johann kept score so he can add) and 7 lifers later, Johann was back at the airport.
Was it money worth spent for Johann? Well I’ll leave that for him to answer.
And as to the title of the topic: Lovelace is the Rockhopper penguin in the movie Happy Feet. Rockhopper's and Macaroni penguins are from the same genus
Here are a couple of photos I took of the penguin. Johann also got some good shots and maybe he’ll post some?