Ocean Wings News
Albatross Encounter Update June 2010
Welcome to the Albatross Encounter® update for June 2010.
We have only managed 13 days of operation this month due to significant winter storms and large southerly swells. The weather has been great though for bringing a huge variety of pelagic birds into the area. To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.
Sightings of interest this month include the white-faced storm petrel and grey-faced petrel (3rd June), Antarctic fulmar (9th June), grey petrel (10th June) and caspian tern (29th June).
We have occasional sightings of grey petrels during winter and this individual was spotted off The Rise, more than 10 miles off the coast. Luckily Ian Southey was onboard to witness our first sighting of the grey petrel this season and took lots of photos. A Subantarctic breeder, the grey petrel has been found breeding on the Antipodes Islands but also on Campbell Island following an extensive rat eradication programme. A highly inquisitive bird, they are frequently sighted following fishing vessels and can dive down to 10m in search of food making them prone to by-catch.
The Antarctic fulmar is again a bird sighted over our winter months following a summer breeding season around Antarctica where it forages close to pack-ice.
We received some fascinating information from the researchers on the Auckland Islands regarding the banded bands we observed last month. Red 050 is a well know Gibson’s wandering albatross that was first banded in 1997 and is believed to be at least 23 years old. This male has been successfully breeding on Adam's Island every second year until 2008 when his partner, returning from a foraging trip to feed her chick crash landed. Unfortunately she broke her wing and subsequently died. With a higher female mortality it is unlikely that this male will be able to locate a new mate in the near future.
Red 73E is also a male Gibson’s wandering albatross. His mate died after the 2003 breeding season and a new breeding attempt in 2009 proved unsuccessful. He didn’t return to his breeding colony this season so our two sightings of him in May were certainly welcomed by the research team.
Shockingly the population of Gibson’s are in decline, estimated to be around 12% every year, the causes of which are still being studied.
We received interesting news of the presence of a banded black-billed gull which was photographed at South Bay nby Peter Langlands. It turns out that this individual was banded at Bayswater on the Aparima River, Southland in 2004. It is interesting to see that these birds travel so far north!
We have our all day bird trip happening on the 31st July so will give a report on this next month. We are hoping the elements will be kinder to us next month, till then happy birding!
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