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Albatross Encounter Update January 2013

Posted by Dennis Buurman (2 Comments)
Thursday, 7 February 2013 in Default

Welcome to the Albatross Encounter® update for January 2013.

Our unusual diversity of bird species has continued this month with sightings of both summer and species being sighted which is highly unusual for this time of year.

Species of interest have included Chatham’s albatross, Cook’s petrel, Buller’s albatross and black-browed albatross, grey-backed and white-faced storm petrels. To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.

Tourism numbers continue to rise with the arrival of several cruise ships visiting Kaikoura for the day and we have been able to operate 58 tours this month.

We’ve been surprised by the arrival of several birds that are winter visitors during the month. A southern giant petrel has been seen on numerous occasions around the chum bag, aggressively fighting with northern giant petrels and both Buller’s and black-browed albatross, whose influx into this area usually doesn’t commence until April.

Red 73E has been sighted on an astonishing 13 occasions this month with orange 512 visiting 7 times. On occasions both these banded birds have been sighted together. It is hoped that maybe last year 512 had found a partner to mate and was foraging closer to her breeding grounds and now that the chick has fledged, she has remembered to visit her favourite haunts. 

Gary has been involved in the release of a yellow-eyed penguin that was found in a garage in Oaro, 15 kilometres south of Kaikoura. Yellow-eyed penguins or “hoiho” are endemic to New Zealand and not often seen in Kaikoura in this area. It was believed to have been attacked by a seal and required veterinary attention. The penguin was rehabilitated by a local bird wildlife refuge and taken offshore in Encounter II for its final release.

Gary also discovered a dead southern royal albatross floating at sea whilst on tour. On collecting this bird and being in pristine condition, it is on its way to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa in Wellington, where it’s hoped after a visit to a taxidermist, it will become incorporated into one of their exhibitions for future generations to see.

Finally, right at the end of the month on a tour with Wrybill Birding Tours, yet more exhilarating news with the sighting of a Chatham Island albatross. We were so fortunate to see it, as having almost finished the tour and running out of chum, we were about to head inshore when Sav Saville excitedly shouted at the top of his voice “Chatham albatross”. It was an incredible spot and only the second time for Tracy (the skipper) to see one on her trips. I think the rest of the passengers realised the importance of such a sighting. Chatham albatross breed only on The Pyramid in the Chatham Islands and very rarely forage east. Fortunately Jody snapped a great shot of this magnificent bird in flight.

The ongoing Million Dollar Mouse Campaign is still working towards its target of $688,150. 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
 Our faithful visitor, 512.  © Albatross Encounter» 512
 Great photo of Chatham Island albatross, taken by Jody Macdonald who was out on our Albatross Encounter  © Jody Macdonald» Chatham Island Albatross
 An Arctic skua cruises past.  © Albatross Encounter» Arctic Skua
 Gary Melville with the yellow-eyed penguin that is about to be released back into the wild!  © Albatross Encounter» Gary and Yellow-eyed
 Large swarms of krill were spotted during January.  © Albatross Encounter» Krill
 © Albatross Encounter» Watching Birds


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