With four days of no mail, I’m wierdly beginning to suffer withdrawl!! This postcard is an official Postcrossing card which I got a wee while back, but I haven’t had a chance to find out more about it until now.
Silke and her family visited the islands of Helgoland. It is in the North Sea, but it is German territory – after having previously belonged to Britain, and Denmark. It is the only part of Germany that is significantly offshore, taking about 3 hours to get there by ferry. There are two islands in the group, with only the main island of Hauptinsel being permanently inhabited.
Helgoland has had a varied history, but now is mainly known as a tourist location. One important activity on the tourist schedule is bird watching as many species can be found here on the spectacular cliffs. Silke’s postcard shows the Basstolpel otherwise known as the Northern Gannet (Sula bassana). This is a migatory bird that breeds on both sides of the Atlantic, and can be found as far south as the Equator during the winter. Helgoland is one of its breeding spots. This website The Internet Bird Collection has a great selection of video and photos of the Basstolpel . Well worth a look!
Gannet feed by diving into the water from quite a height to catch small fish. They may also be found scavenging around boats, or stealing from other birds. They range from close in to the shore to far out in the ocean for food. Gannets often partner for life and most commonly nest on island cliffs, and sometimes in steep, protected areas of the mainland.
These gannets look very similar to the Australasian Gannets we have nesting in New Zealand at Cape Kidnappers in the Hawkes Bay. Some sources suggest that the two are not separate species, but just subspecies. It is possible to do a tour to view these New Zealand gannets up close, which is something on my list of things to do the next time we are in the North Island!