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Albatross Encounter Update November 2012

Posted by Dennis Buurman (26 Comments)
Saturday, 8 December 2012 in Default

Welcome to the Albatross Encounter update for November 2012.

We’ve had an unbelievable month with a huge diversity of birds including a few unusual species. Species of interest have included royal spoonbill, Caspian tern, bar-tailed godwit, grey teal, Cook’s petrel, Buller’s shearwater and the list of species encountered goes on.....!!!! To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.

The numbers of tours operating this month increased dramatically as November seems to be the main month to start off the bird watching season here in New Zealand. We’ve operated 51 tours welcoming many overseas visitors and specialist tour groups. We’ve taken out a number of UK visitors who met Gary and Lynette at the British Bird Fair, who have been eagerly awaiting their tour to New Zealand and certainly haven’t been let down by their close up encounters with the albatross. For some, it’s a dream come true to finally see an albatross in the flesh, rather than stuffed on a museum wall!

Our weather continues to be temperamental with short sharp polar blasts from the south, followed by warm winds from the north, which is probably resulting in the high number of unusual species we’ve observed this month.

We reported last month about our concerns at the lack of sightings of orange 512. We had serious concerns that maybe she had become a sad statistic amongst the bycatch of the longline fishing industry........however, we were all ecstatic to hear the news come over the VHF radio (boat radio) as Gary announced her arrival at the end of the month. The news made everyone’s day as she hadn’t been seen in Kaikoura since March this year. This is highly unusual for her so maybe she’s finally decided to settle down and find a mate and they’ve been busy this past breeding season foraging a little closer to her breeding grounds. It was great to know that she’s still alive and we’re hoping she’s going to be frequenting the area a little more regularly again. Red 73E has also been in town, visiting our boat, Encounter II, on 2 occasions.

The majority of our trips this month are standard tours, but on occasion we do take out 4 hour trips. On our 4 hour tour this month, unusual species encountered included Cook’s petrel, grey teal, bar-tailed godwit and royal spoonbill.

Our diversity of seabirds observed on our standard tours has steadily increased, including sooty and short-tailed shearwaters, Buller’s shearwater, Westland and white-chinned petrels, grey-faced petrel as well as the “usual” albatross species such as wandering, Salvin’s and white-capped albatross. We’ve also had the occasional visit from Sub-Antarctic black-browed albatross which we don’t expect to see at this time of year.

Towards the end of the month, Gary came across a Nelson based fishing vessel with a following of thousands of lesser albatross (mollymawks), the most he’s ever seen. We’ve also been seeing high numbers of northern giant petrels with 72 individuals being recorded on one tour. 

The ongoing Million Dollar Mouse campaign is still working towards its target of $645,728. 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
 A great shot of a royal albatross.  © Albatross Encounter» Royal Albatross
 White-chinned petrel showing the white feathers under its chin.  © Albatross Encounter» White-chinned Petrel
 A line up of Salvin's albatross presents a wonderful photo opportunity.  © Albatross Encounter» Salvin's Line Up
 It was great to see 512 after not seeing her for quite a few months.  © Albatross Encounter» 512
 A Gibson's albatross preening another Gibson's.  © Albatross Encounter» Gibson's Albatross
 A Nelson based fishing vesel working in the Kaikoura area.  © Albatross Encounter» Fishing Vessel



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