Ocean Wings News
Albatross Encounter Update August 2012
Welcome to the Albatross Encounter® update for August 2012.
We’ve had a busy month this month with beautiful weather and calm seas and have been able to operate 20 tours this month. Species of interest this month included king shag, Salvin’s albatross, southern royal albatross, black-billed gulls, Westland petrel and southern giant petrels. To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.
This month Gary Melville and Lynette Buurman represented Albatross Encounter (and the New Zealand Birding Network) at the British Birdfair, held at Rutland Water Nature Reserve, Egleton during the weekend of 17 - 19th August. A group of New Zealand operators exhibited again at this year’s event with grateful support from Tourism New Zealand.
The Fair was well attended and the level of enquiry was particularly pleasing given the current economic environment. Confirmed commitment to travel to New Zealand within the next 12 months was the highest that had been encountered at the Bird Fair, so it is with some optimism that we look forward to seeing those visitors here in Kaikoura in the near future.
The Fair is a brilliant event and the numbers attending usually exceed 20000 over a three day period. The number of exhibitors exceed 300, so there is plenty of scope to research a diverse range of destinations and products from all over the world.
The success of the New Zealand exhibit space can definitely be attributed to the operators attending, working collectively to promote New Zealand and all it has to offer. We encouraged those interested in visiting New Zealand to allow enough time to explore the entire country and to seek out the unique bird watching opportunities and impressive landscapes that we are all so proud of.
Gary also really enjoyed catching up with many customers who have previously experienced the Albatross Encounter tour, and many other potential customers who have Kaikoura and new Zealand and their list of places to visit. It is a wonderful opportunity to engage with the bird loving Brits and to encourage more travellers to visit our part of the world!
Whilst Gary’s been in the UK, the 5th International Albatross and Petrel Conference was taking place in Wellington. The Encounter Foundation contributed $4,000 towards sponsorship of this conference that’s held every 4 years. The conference is dedicated to albatrosses and petrels and attracts experts from all over the world. Unfortunately Albatross Encounter was unable to attend, however we did have a display at the conference including our recently acquired southern royal albatross that had come straight from the taxidermist. Although we couldn’t attend, we had numerous delegates coming out on trips, either to see new species of albatross, or to see birds away from their breeding grounds, a new experience for some. For some lucky passengers, we were even able to take a look at a young male leopard seal who had hauled out on the beach.
We’ve seen quite a few southern giant petrels this month and had 3 birds sitting together on one trip. Southern giant petrels are more common during the winter months, however we only tend to see them sporadically throughout winter with sightings of 1 or 2 individuals. They are easily identified from the northern giant petrel by a greenish tip to the end of the bill, compared to the northern giant petrels that have a red-brown tip to the bill. Southern giant petrels breed further south with the largest populations occurring in the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. Approximately 10% of the population have a white morph phase and are highly distinctive as seen on one of our recent trips in August. At least one white morph has been sighted every winter in Kaikoura and this is a real treat.
Red 73E turned up this month, still sporting his greenish/blue dot on his head from when he had contact with the research team in the Auckland Islands. He hasn’t been seen since 10th June this year and we’re still curious to know where he goes once he departs Kaikoura. Another banded bird has frequented the area recently, however the red coloured band on its leg is turned inwards and we are therefore unable to read the number and determine any information about this individual.
The ongoing Million Dollar Mouse campaign is slowly creeping towards its target of $1 million dollars and currently sits at $608,612. We actively encourage everyone to look up the site and help with the conservation effort to raise funds to eradicate carnivorous mice predating on native flora and fauna. 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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