Ocean Wings News
Albatross Encounter Update September 2011
Welcome to the Albatross Encounter® update for September 2011, the first update for spring.
Our tourism numbers have increased this month as we welcomed Rugby World Cup fans from all over the world resulting in 20 tours operating to see the albatross. Species of interest this month include Westland petrels, Hutton’s shearwaters, brown skua, reef heron and southern giant petrel. To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.
We’ve started to see a change in bird species arriving and departing from Kaikoura and welcomed the return of Kaikoura’s special bird, the Hutton’s shearwater. These birds have just returned from an annual winter migration from Australia and are busy waiting for the snow to melt prior to commencing their breeding season. Kaikoura is the only place in the world where they breed and there’s an air of excitement to see if the 3rd Hutton’s colony which has been established on the Kaikoura Peninsula, may have a breeding success this year after the failure of the 1st egg from a 3 year old bird last year. The Hutton’s have been seen rafting in numbers as high as 20,000 birds, an incredible sight.
The local schools in Kaikoura have also enjoyed the Hutton’s arrival with 4 shearwater educational trips to take them out and show them the new Hutton’s colony on the Peninsula with its predator proof fence and also to show off the impressive rafts of Hutton’s at this time of year. Luckily for one group, they had a close encounter with a Hutton’s which was released from our boat. The bird had been handed to the crew having been found near the road the morning after a heavy downpour and full moon; the bird had obviously been disorientated and had misjudged the road thinking it was the ocean but luckily had been rescued by a passer-by and successfully released back out at sea.
Other bird species arriving this month include the white-chinned petrels, Westland petrels and Buller’s shearwaters and we say our goodbyes to the Buller’s albatross. Salvin’s and white-capped albatross numbers are steadily increasing with a record 20 white-capped and 30 Salvin’s albatross sighted on just 1 tour.
Once again Gazza is an albatross hero having saved the life of a female northern royal albatross entangled with a fishing hook and line in her beak. The alarm was raised by a commercial charter fisherman who knew the right man to call and so Gary raced to its rescue. The bird was in a poor condition and more than likely had been restricted in its feeding ability for some time. Had she not ventured into Kaikoura waters, it is likely that she would have perished. Gary, accompanied by a friend, Willy Boyd, set out to capture the albatross and remove the hook and line from her before releasing her back into the ocean to live out a long and happy life!
Red 73E, one of our most commonly sighted banded birds has been seen on 5 occasions this month still sporting his geolocator. As he hasn’t been seen in Kaikoura since 21st April, it will be interesting to hear news from our researchers when they recover his geolocator early next year about other foraging areas he visits when he’s not in Kaikoura.
So, that’s all our news for now, till next month happy birding and “Go the All Blacks”!
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