Ocean Wings News
Albatross Encounter Update January 2010
Welcome to the Albatross Encounter update for the month of January 2010.
Well despite rather un-summer like conditions, we operated on 29 days this month with some fantastic sightings of a variety of pelagic species. There were great opportunities for photographers to capture images of a lifetime, especially of the largest wingspan in the natural world! To see what species were seen this month and for other months, go to our sightings page.
The species of interest for this month are wandering albatross that have been banded. We see a variety of pelagic species that have been banded when on land at their breeding sights. The reason for the banding is to record data regarding their breeding and foraging behaviors. This information is vital for formulating conservation strategies for a variety of bird species, some of which are critically endangered. Species that we have seen banded include northern royal albatross, Gibson's wandering albatross, Antipodean wandering albatross, northern and southern giant petrel and Westland petrel. Some of the banded wanderers have been seen over a period of years and we have been kindly given some personal information by researches studying the birds on their breeding islands.
#512 Orange is a female Gibson's wanderer that hatched at Adam's Island (Auckland Islands) in early in the summer of 1995/96, which makes her 14 years old. We have been seeing this bird for around 9 years now and have seen her plumage change as she has matured. She does not stay here in Kaikoura, but visits the Kaikoura Canyon to feed in its rich waters.
#73E Red is a mature Gibson's male that was banded in 2001 when he was presumed to around 10 years old, which makes him around 19 years old. He is a relatively young bird but has already had some drama in his life. He lost his first partner after successfully breeding, then eventually found another who he has had several chicks with.
We look forward to hearing some updates from Don and Cath who are down at the breeding islands continuing their research at the moment.
On the 27th there was a sighting of a flesh-footed shearwater with a plumage variation. The face and head had streaks of pale plumage that is probably a recessive trait amongst the population. This shearwater breeds on offshore islands off the North Island of New Zealand and Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea.
On our tour we sometimes see birds with various injuries. Some of these are quite benign and others can be quite horrific. The causes of these injuries range from fights from defending food on the ocean to human related injuries from fishing boats. This month we were visited by a southern royal that was missing its right eye. We cannot know the real cause but the bird seems strong and was able to feed and fly without any problems.
Till next month, good birding.
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