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Albatross Encounter Update October 2012

Posted by Dennis Buurman (52 Comments)
Tuesday, 13 November 2012 in Default

Welcome to the Albatross Encounter update for October 2012.

We have been kept busy this month operating 32 tours with a combination of our standard tour and our 4 hour tours as well as a half day tour. Species of interest have included northern and southern royal albatross, southern giant petrel, Westland and white-chinned petrel, sooty and short-tailed shearwater, Antarctic fulmar,Hutton’s shearwater and Campbell Island albatross. To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.

Our weather has been temperamental with short sharp polar blasts following by hot spring days. Obviously the birds love the southerly storms and it’s a great opportunity to marvel at the gracefulness of pelagic birds soaring in the wind.

We’ve been welcoming a variety of overseas visitors including some people who were excited to meet Lynette and Gary at the British Birdfair in August this year and plan their New Zealand adventure. Gary has also hosted new immigrants from the UK, Sally and Tom, who are recent converts to the birdwatching world. Sally splits her time between working at a local law firm in Christchurch and the Antarctic Centre (in Christchurch) looking after little blue and white-flippered penguins. Sally only had a passing interest in birds until relocating to New Zealand where her passion has grown. Tom is an environmental consultant helping to rebuild Christchurch (after the 22nd February earthquake in 2011) and loyally follows her on her birdwatching trips. Although feeling like he comes second to the birds now, he still enjoyed the albatross!!! 

We’ve been enjoying an interesting array of bird species this month including a few birds that we would only anticipate to see during the winter months and have been surprised to see southern giant petrels, Antarctic fulmar and black-browed albatross.

On our half day pelagic tour passengers were fortunate to see Campbell Island albatross, arctic skua, grey-faced petrel, white-chinned petrel and the first Buller’s shearwater for the season.

Numbers of Hutton’s shearwaters have been dramatically increasing with enormous flocks of up to 50,000 birds being observed as they return to Kaikoura ready to begin the summer breeding season once more. Other species of shearwater are also making an appearance with short-tailed and sooty shearwater beginning to be sighted on our tours.

Red 73E has visited Encounter II on 4 occasions this month, however worryingly, there has been no sign of orange 512 since March this year. We’re hoping that maybe she has found a suitable partner to finally breed with and is foraging closer to her breeding grounds.

The ongoing Million Dollar Mouse campaign is still working towards its target of $630,538. We continue to actively encourage everyone to look up this 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 -

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

Tour Photos
 © Albatross Encounter» Westland Petrel
 A white-capped albatross objects strongly to being harrassed by a royal albatross.  © Albatross Encounter» Royal and White-capped
 An approaching southerly storm looks ominous as it comes in from the south.  © Albatross Encounter» Approaching Storm
 © Albatross Encounter» The View
 Our well known banded Gibson's albatross, 73E.  © Albatross Encounter» 73E
 A grey-faced petrel, the first we have sighted for the summer season.  © Albatross Encounter» Grey-faced Petrel




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