Ocean Wings News
Albatross Encounter Update July 2012
Welcome to the Albatross Encounter® update for July 2012.
We’ve basked in glorious sunshine for most of the month except for a few days of southerly storms and some fresh snow on the Seaward Kaikoura Mountain range. Our bird tours have been slightly busier this month and we have operated 11 tours. Species of interest this month included Westland petrels, southern giant petrels, Salvin’s albatross, Antarctic fulmar, southern cape petrels, fairy prions and blue penguins. To see what was sighted this go to our sightings page.
We see a range of lesser albatross throughout the year and we commonly refer to them as mollymawks. Usually during summer months the predominant species are Salvin’s and NZ white-capped albatross. The majority of these birds migrate to South American and South African climes for winter. For the winter months, we then see the ingress of black-browed and Buller’s albatross. This month we’ve regularly enjoyed seeing all 4 of these mollymawks with the early arrival of the Salvin’s albatross.
Having observed a fluttering shearwater last month being chased by giant petrels; they have been busy yet again, but this time eating a dead seal. The congregation of giant petrels and cape petrels certainly caught our attention as the giant petrels fought with one another, or sat on the water with their aggressive posture of holding their wings outstretched trying to prove something to one another.
We’ve also had sightings of an unusual southern giant petrel with the characteristic green tip to the beak, but with a pale iris. Apparently this anomaly has occurred due to cross-breeding between northern and southern giant petrels within a confined breeding area and has been seen in birds around South Georgia and Macquarie Island.
A young family from Holland spent several days in Kaikoura enjoying the dolphin and albatross tours. The whole family are avid birders with both Lianne and Luc working in the ornithological field. Luc was partly on business over here giving a successful presentation to Forest & Bird. The whole family thoroughly enjoyed the tour with young Dirk taking control of the camera.
Education is an important part of our society and recently we hosted the Kaikoura Kids Holiday Programme where local children were enrolled in the programme to keep busy during the school holidays. We were fortunate to have use of our larger vessel, Lissodelphis, to take a large group of children with varying ages out to see the albatross. Even though these children live locally, for most, it was their first chance to encounter an albatross and even venture out on a boat.
We continue to raise awareness of the plight of native flora and fauna on the Antipodes Islands with the ongoing million dollar mouse campaign. The Encounter Foundation’s recent donation of $488,994. For more information or to make a donation, see their website - www.ourfarsouth.org/milliondollarmouse.
So, that’s all our news for now, happy birding.
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