Ocean Wings News
Albatross Encounter Update May 2011
Welcome to the Albatross Encounter® update for May 2011.
We’ve had some beautiful calm weather this month with May being the warmest on record. Our tours are definitely quieter as winter descend upon us with fewer tourists coming to Kaikoura, however we’ve still been able to operate 18 tours this month.
Species of interest this month include southern giant petrels, caspian terns, Antipodean wandering albatross, Buller’s albatross and black-browed albatross. To see what was sighted this month click on our sightings page.
Gary abandoned us this month to set sail on the vessel ‘Braveheart’ taking an expedition from the Auckland Museum to the Kermadec Islands, leaving Pete and Tracy at the helm. We’re all looking forward to his return scheduled for the beginning of June to hear all his 'sailors’ stories.
We continue to see an increase in numbers of the photogenic black-browed and Buller’s albatross and have started to see the odd arrival of the southern giant petrels. Almost all of our sooty shearwaters, white-chinned petrels, Westland petrels and Hutton’s shearwaters have left and are replaced by the common diving petrel, whilst hundreds of spotted shags roost up at Barney’s Rock.
We received feedback on some of our banded birds that are new to Kaikoura. Red 04G is a male probably around 30 years old and has had the same mate for 15 years, during which time they’ve only managed to successfully rear 4 chicks out of 8 breeding attempts. Sadly, these birds have been sighted in their breeding grounds for the last 3 summers, but have not bred.
Yellow 278 is another younger male who was banded at the same time as Orange 512, shortly before he fledged. He’s not part of the study programme due to his natal nest being outside of the research area however his age is known and he is currently breeding back where he was reared so hopefully we may encounter him on further foraging trips here in Kaikoura.
Red 73E has been spotted on several occasions sporting an electronic geolocator. This was attached to him whilst he was in the study area this year and is 1 of 19 geolocator dataloggers attached to Gibson’s wandering albatross to try and track their distribution over the coming year. As 73E is a regular visitor to Kaikoura, our data collection will assist the researchers to fine tune their latitude and longitude data when they retrieve the datalogger from him next January. It will certainly be exciting to see where he spends his time in between his Kaikoura trips.
Unusually we’ve had a few sightings of blue sharks around the chum bag. This is a very rare occurrence at this time of year as we normally encounter blue sharks during the warmer summer months. On one recent trip, our favourite banded bird Orange 512 was seen defending herself from a large and curious shark that kept checking her out. Luckily she showed him who’s the boss and lives on yet again to tell another tale.
We had a very brief visit from a banded royal albatross that attacked some wanderers at the chum bag. The royal was wearing a red darvic band, but unfortunately it was a brief surprise attack before he promptly flew away leaving us all bemused as to exactly where he originates from.
For those who are interested in a full day pelagic trip, it’s all happening on Saturday 30th July (Sunday 31st back up date). So this is a great opportunity for those keen birdwatchers who want to go a lot further offshore in search of some of our rarer visitors. Have a look at April update (see photo below) to see how well our last all day pelagic went. For more information check out our blog.
So, that’s all our news for now, till next month happy birding!
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