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Albatross Encounter Update April 2012

Posted by Dennis Buurman (56 Comments)
Tuesday, 15 May 2012 in Default

Welcome to the Albatross Encounter® update for April 2012.

We’ve been basking in beautiful sunshine for most of the month with calm seas and clear skies. April has been the warmest on record for most areas of the country. 

The numbers of tourists visiting Kaikoura have steadily declined and this is reflected in the reduced number of tours that we’ve operated. We’ve been successful in operating 30 tours this month and it remains a great time of year to view pelagic birds, as some birds prepare for their annual winter migration whilst others begin to arrive. We’ve continued to see an increase in the numbers of both Buller’s and black-browed albatross, whilst strangely the numbers of white-capped albatross are the most we have seen all season. The chances of sighting Salvin’s albatross are rather remote until next season, although a few birds tend to be sighted during the winter months.

Species of interest this month included Campbell Island albatross, black-browed albatross, Buller’s albatross, Buller’s shearwaters, Pomarine and brown skua, common diving petrels and Wilson’s storm petrel. To see what was sighted this month go our sightings page.

It’s a great time of year to come on tour as we witness the change in seasons and the transition of species sighted. Salvin’s and white-capped albatross, which are predominantly sighted during the summer months start to depart on their annual winter migration whilst we see an influx of the photogenic Buller’s and black-browed albatross. We’ve also been seeing a few royal albatross, particularly a few southern royals that are keen to venture close to the chum bag, giving the opportunity that enables an easy comparison between the two species.

We’ve enjoyed taking passengers out to visit commercial fishing boats if they are in the local vicinity as it increases the chances of seeing a few more birds as they scavenge around the offal being disposed overboard. On one 4 hour tour, 9 different species of albatross were sighted.

We’ve seen a few banded birds including a mysterious royal albatross with a white band on his leg. Unfortunately the darvic band has no number on it so we are still attempting to find out where it was banded. Short of catching the bird to read its metal band, our options are fairly limited. We also saw Red 95C, a male Gibson’s wandering albatross that was banded as an adult bird back in 2004. Since that breeding attempt, both birds have not been in good enough condition to breed and have started to visit the Island in alternate years so they are never on the breeding grounds at the same time.

A few blue sharks are still hanging around and on occasions they are lured towards the boat by the fish oil emanating from the chum bag. These graceful sharks are no problem for the albatross although they are wary of the sharks swimming around their feet. One blue shark was even spotted with an octopus clinging to it.

We continue to encourage passengers to support the Million Dollar Mouse Campaign which is aimed at raising $352,258. Further information and donation details can be obtained from their website:

So, that’s all our news for now, happy birding. 

Tour Photos
 Black-browed albatross.  © Albatross Encounter» Subantarctic Black-browed Albatross
 95C, male Gibson’s wandering albatross, banded as a breeding bird in the Auckland Islands on 27/01/04. After that breeding attempt, neither bird has been in a good enough condition to breed. Unfortunately these birds turn up back on the islands at the wrong time with the female returning in 2005, 2006, 2007, and the male returning in 2007, 2008, and 2009! 
   © Albatross Encounter» 95C
 Great bird watching at Kaikoura.  © Albatross Encounter» Albatross
 We had some stunning days in April, this being one of them.  © Albatross Encounter» Calm Days
 A very unusual situation, an octopus riding along attached to a blue shark!  © Albatross Encounter» Shark and Octopus
 One of the local fishing boats with the Kaikoura Mountains in the background.  © Albatross Encounter» Fishing Boat



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