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Albatross Encounter Update May 2012

Posted by Dennis Buurman (29 Comments)
Tuesday, 19 June 2012 in Default

Welcome to the Albatross Encounter® update for May 2012.

The weather has continued to be largely settled, especially for this time of year, although we have encountered a few days of gale force winds. Wind from the south is especially welcome increasing the chances of seeing huge numbers of albatross as they soar northwards on the southerly fronts.

Our tourism numbers have continued to decline this month, which is expected at this time of year and we have operated 12 tours this month. The numbers of predominantly winter species sighted continues to rise with 25 black-browed albatross alone being sighted on one tour. Species of interest this month included black-browed albatross, Buller’s albatross, Buller’s shearwaters, Antarctic fulmar, common diving petrels, black-billed gulls, black shag and Caspian terns. To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.

Shags are commonly seen around the Kaikoura coastline. There are 36 species worldwide and 12 species are found here in New Zealand with 8 species being endemic. The shag family are split into 3 different categories depending on their feet colour, black, yellow and pink footed. The black footed shags are more commonly known outside of New Zealand as cormorants and it initially causes some confusion when we point these birds out and call them “shags”. The black shag seen this month is an unusual sighting for this area although being widespread throughout New Zealand. It is the largest of the shags at 88cm long and can weigh up to 2.2kg. This species is adapted to both freshwater and coastal environments and feeds on fish, crustacea and invertebrates.

Our dolphin crew are reporting news of the arrival of Antarctic fulmars, the first for the season. These birds travel north during winter and are commonly seen in Kaikoura during the winter months. They have been sighted in small flocks way to the south of Kaikoura, so hopefully they’ll travel a little further north into the area we operate our bird tours so we’ll start seeing them shortly.

We continue to encourage passengers to support the Million Dollar Mouse campaign with current funds sitting at $473,856. The aim is to raise $1 million to eradicate carnivorous mice that predate on native wildlife including Antipodean wandering albatross chicks. Further information and donation details can be obtained from their website:

Till next time.............

Tour Photos
 Birds feeding at the back of the boat.  © Albatross Encounter» Birds In View
 The Buller's albatross is always a favourite with its distinctive yellow colouration on the bill.  © Albatross Encounter» Buller's Albatross
 © Albatross Encounter» New Zealand White-capped Albatross
 A black shag spotted on Barney's Rock.  © Albatross Encounter» Black Shag
 A good view of a wandering albatross gliding past the boat.   © Albatross Encounter» Wandering Albatross
 © Dennis Buurman» Caspian Tern



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