Ocean Wings News
Albatross Encounter Update November 2011
Welcome to the Albatross Encounter update for November 2011.
Our visitor numbers continued to increase this month with 60 tours operating, which is more than double the numbers of tours that we operated last month. So our birdwatching season is well and truly underway. We’re starting to see fewer Rugby World Cup fans now as the celebrations are over and people head home. Our independent traveller numbers have certainly increased including visitors who attended the annual British Bird Fair at Rutland Water in the UK earlier in the year. We’ve also welcomed several professional photographers who are amazed at how short the travel time is out to the see the albatross off our coastline. They were also very impressed by how close the encounter is with the birds compared to other worldwide travel destinations....definitely a photographer’s dream.
Species of interest this month include sooty shearwaters, Antarctic fulmar, Arctic skua, Caspian tern, Wilson’s and white-bellied storm petrels and royal spoonbill. To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.
Our diversity of bird species continues to be high this month, which is no doubt attributed to the high number of southerly storms we have experienced since the beginning of spring. Winter species that we have encountered this month include the Antarctic fulmar, black-browed albatross and southern giant petrel.
Unusual species this month include the ongoing sightings of the juvenile shag seen at Barney’s Rock. The debate still continues to create discussion over whether it’s a king or Steward Island shag. Whichever species it is, it’s a first for Kaikoura! Two Royal Spoonbills were also sighted on Baxter’s Reef. The closest breeding colony for these birds is at Okarito Lagoon situated on the West Coast of the South Island.
Buller’s shearwaters have been seen in rafts of up to 60 individuals. Having just returned from their winter migration in the North Pacific, they start their breeding season at Poor Knight’s Islands. The Hutton’s shearwaters continue to be seen on a regular basis rafting up in enormous numbers of up to 10,000 individuals.
The Arctic skuas are just starting to turn up for the season. They are found breeding in the northern hemisphere during our winter season and migrate to the southern hemisphere during our summer months. These birds are aggressive aerial pirates and are commonly seen harassing white-fronted terns and other seabirds to force them to drop their recent catch or regurgitate their last meal.
We haven’t seen any of our usual banded birds this month, however on several occasions, we have had a visit from a Northern royal albatross showing off a nice white band. We are very interested to
see if this individual originates from the breeding colony on the Otago Peninsula or whether it’s a visitor from further afield.
So, that’s all our news for now, till next month and happy birding.
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