Ocean Wings News
Albatross Encounter Update January 2012
Welcome to our first update for 2012.
Our wide diversity of bird sightings continues this month with 57 trips operating. The weather has continued to be unpredictable, but a little wind is always welcomed especially by the albatross. Species of interest this month include black-browed albatross, fluttering shearwaters, fairy prions, Caspian tern, white-faced storm petrel and grey-backed storm petrel. To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.
Once again we’ve been seeing bird species that we usually observe during the winter months such as the Buller’s albatross, black-browed albatross and southern giant petrels.
A few giant petrels have needed to be rescued and relocated this month. We received a report of a sick baby albatross by some children playing in a campground in Goose Bay. One of the guides retrieved the bird and identified it as a southern giant petrel which appeared a little weak. Taken away in a box and hand fed sardines this giant petrel made a speedy recovery and was released a few days later. The other giant petrel was a little more problematical and had based itself on the Kaikoura Peninsula. Giant petrels are the only one of the petrel species to go to land to feed and this northern giant petrel was intelligent enough to be right in amongst the red-billed gull colony where research has been undertaken for years. This bird was found eating the gull chicks, spitting the colour bands out and chasing inquisitive tourists. The last we saw of this bird was when a Department of Conservation ranger relocated it back onto the ocean a considerable distance from the Peninsula. It will be interesting to see if this bird returns back to the gull colony once more?!
We received exciting news of the first chick from the new Hutton’s shearwater colony on the Kaikoura Peninsula. With Kaikoura being the only place in the world where these birds breed, a huge project was been undertaken to relocate 300 chicks from the breeding colonies in the mountains to a new predator proofed area on the Peninsula to establish a third breeding colony. Reports of an egg last year proved infertile dashing hopes of all concerned but this year it’s exciting to hear of a chick and hopes for it’s survival. For information on the Hutton's project go to Hutton's Trust website. News of the new chick has yet to feature on their website, but keep visiting for further updates and news.
We’ve had several sightings of our banded Gibson’s wandering albatross, Red 73E and Orange 512 this month. We are hoping, with the researchers continuing their studies in the Auckland Islands this year, that they may be able to find 512’s breeding grounds and retrieve Red 73E’s geolocator. Orange 512 hasn’t been seen since August 2011, so it was great to see that she’s alive and well, although it would be fantastic to know where she goes in between visits. Maybe Red 73E’s movements will enlighten us. Towards the end of last month we had sightings of a banded northern royal albatross. We have since found out that this bird is a breeding bird from the colony down at Taiaroa Head on the Otago Peninsula. When we saw this bird he had been out at sea for 15 days whilst the female was incubating an egg back at the colony.
So, that’s all our news for now, happy birding.
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