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Albatross Encounter Update June 2012

Posted by Dennis Buurman (928 Comments)
Monday, 16 July 2012 in Default

Welcome to the Albatross Encounter® update for June 2012.

For the majority of June the weather has been most unsettled with lots of wind, rain and snow. The air temperature has plummeted and on some days has dropped by more than 10°C as southerlies battered the whole country.

Our bird tours have been quiet this month, no doubt as a result of the poor weather and we have only managed to operate 5 tours. Species of interest this month included black-browed albatross, Buller’s albatross, fluttering shearwaters, black-billed gulls, fairy prion and a harrier hawk. To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.

We’ve seen an increased number of fluttering shearwaters. These birds can easily be confused with the Hutton’s shearwaters as they are very similar in appearance except for a few subtle differences. There may be the odd Hutton’s shearwater still in Kaikoura, but these birds undertake a winter migration to Australia returning in spring for the breeding season. Fluttering shearwaters breed only in New Zealand with the closest colony to Kaikoura up in the Marlborough Sounds. The birds usually come ashore in September to dig out their burrows or create new ones in preparation for a new breeding season. A single egg is laid around November which is incubated by both adults. Once the chick has hatched the parents both head out to sea to forage during the day and returning at night to feed the chick.

Red 73E, our trusty banded Gibson’s wandering albatross was sighted this month having last been seen at the beginning of March this year. It’s amazing to think that he is busy feeding somewhere else for 3 months and we’d love to know where. We’re still awaiting any updates from the researchers to hear if he managed to successfully breed this year and are also keen to receive updates on his movements over the last year. We’ll keep you posted!

The giant petrels have been living up to their reputation of “oceanic vultures” as Gary was recently a witness to them chasing and attacking a fluttering shearwater. Their pursuit was relentless, however due to Gary’s intervention, this bird was very lucky to survive. Giant petrels were also observed feasting on a dead white-capped albatross.

We’ve also had quite a few encounters with New Zealand fur seals preoccupied with consuming their latest catch, which has ranged from octopus to salmon or kawahai. Albatross, petrels and other seabirds are attracted by the commotion hoping to scavenge or steal the leftovers.

The Encounter Foundation has recently donated $478,914. For more information or to make a donation, see their website -

The Encounter Foundation was set up in 2009 and aims to support or initiate projects that primarily enhance the natural environment, both locally and further afield. A contribution from every passenger who participates on our albatross or dolphin  tours goes into the Foundation and these funds are used to support well deserving projects like this one. For more information check out our website:

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

Tour Photos
 A Gibson's and wandering albatross visiting the chum bag.  © Albatross Encounter» Albatross
 Tours in winter often have the added bonus of some spectacular scenes, especially with the snow capped Kaikoura Mountains.  © Albatross Encounter» The View
 A juvenile albatross that would have fledged a month or two ago.  © Albatross Encounter» Juvenile Albatross
 The delightful and very picturesque fairy prion.   © Albatross Encounter» Fairy Prion



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