Ocean Wings News
Albatross Encounter Update June 2011
Welcome to the Albatross Encounter® update for June 2011.
We’ve been extremely quiet on the bird tours this month with only 5 tours operating. This has been due to very low tourism numbers. The weather is still holding out though with a very mild winter and the Seaward Kaikoura Mountain range still lacking in snow.
Species of interest this month include southern giant petrels, black-billed gulls, Buller’s albatross and black-browed albatross. To see what was sighted this month go tour our sightings page.
Gary returned triumphant from his Kermadecs trip which was a joint venture between Te Papa, Department of Conservation, Australian Museum and Radio New Zealand. The Kermadec Islands are our most northernmost islands and comprise of subtropical as well as tropical birds, many of which breed there. Gary had some marvellous views of red tailed tropic birds, wedge-tailed and little shearwaters. White-faced storm petrels were also very common. A big surprise to the researchers was the discovery of 3 little shearwaters that were found in the stomach contents of a large kingfish. This fish clearly had specialized the art of devouring birds for breakfast and it makes you wonder how many birds go this way!!
We had a notable absence of northern giant petrels last month, they must have been awaiting Gary’s return as in one single trip he counted 39 of them. One interesting sighting this month was of a “white morph”. White morphs are southern giant petrels, but with only 10% of the population being a white morph phase. Despite being the most abundant of the giant petrels, it is less frequently sighted in New Zealand compared to the northern giant petrel and we usually only see them during the winter months, as they disperse from their summer breeding grounds.. Commonly known as “Nelly” or “Stinkers”, giant petrels are able to spit foul smelling oil when threatened.
We’ve now reached minimum numbers to operate our full day pelagic tour on 30th July (back up day 31st July) with a few spaces still available for those who are interested please feel free to contact reservations on 0800 733 365.
So, that’s all our news for now, till next month happy birding!
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