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Albatross Encounter Update May 2013

Posted by Dennis Buurman (0 Comments)
Friday, 14 June 2013 in Default

Welcome to the Albatross Encounter® Update for May 2013.

As winter rapidly approaches, a few things change here at Albatross Encounter. First of all we start to see an increase in the number of strong polar blasts from the Antarctic that bring with it both a diversity of birds, snow and a decrease in the number of tours that we’re able to operate. Despite the difficult weather conditions experienced this month, we have been able to operate 19 tours.

Species of interest this month have included black-browed albatross, Buller’s albatross, Caspian tern, short-tailed shearwaters, Antarctic fulmar and southern giant petrels. To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.

Orange 512 has been seen on seven occasions this month, surprising considering that she hasn’t been seen since 1st February this year. A common question that people ask, is whether or not it’s the same birds that visit the boat each day and the only real way of knowing is if the bird is banded. Having not seen 512 for three months really highlights how infrequent her visits to Kaikoura really are. If only we knew where she goes when she’s not in our area, that would be a real insight for us!

Another new banded wandering albatross was seen this month. Similar in appearance to 512, this bird also has a faded orange band, number 265. The assumption is that this bird was also banded around the same time as 512 and knowing that the orange colour bands were only used in 1996, we can estimate the age of this bird to be the same as 512 at 16 years old. Again, it’s surprising that despite this bird’s age, we have never encountered this individual before.

Buller’s and black-browed albatross continue to “wow” our visitors with regular comments around how stunning they are in real life. Frequent comments focus on the fact that photos they’d seen of these birds striking features were purely a trick thanks to Photoshop!! A rare sight was also of both species feeding at the chum bag. Usually these lesser albatross have no chance to feed at the chum bag due to the presence and high level of aggression shown by both the giant petrels and wandering albatross, but on this occasion, they were able to steal an opportunistic moment.

Giant petrels were also witnessed living up to their reputation as an “oceanic vulture”. Known both as a scavenger and a predator, they were observed seizing the moment to feed on a dead seal seen floating out at sea.

The ongoing Million Dollar Mouse campaign is still continuing to raise funds for its predator eradication programme. The aim is to raise $818,224, not far to go now!! 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, remember to follow us on Facebook for the most updated information and news.

Happy birding.

Tour Photos
 The stunning Buller's albatross.  © Albatross Encounter» Buller's Albatross
 Our favourite banded albatross returned after a long absence.  © Albatross Encounter» 512
 The beautiful Antarctic fulmar, a welcome winter visitor.  © Albatross Encounter» Antarctic Fulmar
 Size comparison between the white-capped albatross and the Antarctic fulmar.  © Albatross Encounter» Fulmar and White-capped
 No doubting these two girls had a great time out on the ocean with Kaikoura's seabirds.  © Albatross Encounter» Happy Customers
 A giant petrel dines out on a dead NZ fur seal.  © Albatross Encounter» Giant Petrel and Dead Seal


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