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Albatross Encounter Update for June 2013.

Posted by Dennis Buurman (0 Comments)
Saturday, 6 July 2013 in Default

Welcome to the Albatross Encounter Update for June 2013.

We always expect June to be a quiet month, however this month has been very much so, with us only being able to operate 7 tours compared to 15 last year. In part, the shocking weather was to blame as a huge polar blast travelled across the country wreaking havoc in its path. As a result, tours were cancelled for days at a time as wind speeds of at least 130km/hr were recorded in Kaikoura.

Wellington suffered the brunt of the southerly storm that brought snow to low levels across the country. Filghts into and out of Wellington airport were cancelled, as were the sailings of the Interisland Ferries. One white-capped albatross was rescued by the Wellington Airport Operations Team after being found in a distressed state on the runway and is now recuperating at Wellington Zoo. Nearby, a taxi driver found a giant petrel on the road and bravely put it into his boot taking it to a local vet. The weather has to be bad to storm-wreck these hardy birds!

Species of interest this month have included Campbell, Buller’s and black-browed albatross, Arctic skua, Westland petrel, Salvin’s albatross, black shag and a white morph. To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.

Southern giant petrels are predominantly sighted throughout the winter. They are distinguished from the northern giant petrels by a pale green tip to the bill.  From time to time, we sometime see a white morph phase, which is white all over, except for a few brown flecks. The white morph phase is unique to the southern giant petrel and is only found in up to 10% of the population.

We’ve been seeing large numbers of black-browed albatross this month with up to 21 individuals being sighted on one tour. We’ve also had a visit from a Campbell albatross; almost identical to the Sub-Antarctic black-browed albatross, it has a distinctive honey coloured eye and is endemic to the Campbell Islands. We have very few sightings of these albatross each year and it’s always a pleasure to see them.

Spotted shags have been observed at Barney’s Rock in large numbers with up to 1,000 birds being seen on just one tour. Although they don’t breed at Barney’s Rock, they are frequently observed roosting here sometime in large concentrations. These birds are endemic to New Zealand and breed locally along the Kaikoura coastline and in the Marlborough Sounds.

Orange 512 has been seen once this month and the researchers still continue to search for her on her breeding grounds in the Sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands, but without success. We reported last month the sighting of a new banded bird in the area, Orange 265. This bird was banded as a chick in 1997 at Adam's Island in the Auckland Islands. Little is known about this bird due to it nesting outside of the researchers study area. It is only slightly younger than Orange 512, but it’s amazing that at 17 years old we’ve never encountered it before!

The ongoing Million Dollar Mouse campaign is nearing its target to raise funds for a predator eradication programme to eliminate carnivorous mice predating on native flora and fauna. The fund is currently sitting at $819,104, not far to go now!! We encourage everyone to look up this site and help with the conservation effort. For more information or to make a donation, see their website - www.ourfarsouth.org/milliondollarmouse.

So, that’s all our news for now, follow us on Facebook for the up to date happenings.

 Happy birding.

Tour Photos
 The launching ramp at South Bay during the storm.  © Albatross Encounter» High Seas
 The launching ramp at South Bay during the storm.  © Albatross Encounter» High Seas at Slipway
 After 3 days of a southerly storm, the weather cleared and this view looking south over South Bay, shows all the snow in the surrounding hills and mountains.  © Albatross Encounter» Morning After
 © Albatross Encounter» Watching the Birds
 © Albatross Encounter» Campbell Island Albatross
 © Albatross Encounter» White Morph
 © Albatross Encounter» Northern Giant Petrel
 Spotted shags on Barney's Rock.  © Albatross Encounter» Spotted Shags
 © Albatross Encounter» Black Shag

 

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