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Albatross Encounter Update for July 2013

Posted by Dennis Buurman (0 Comments)
Wednesday, 14 August 2013 in Default

Welcome to the Albatross Encounter Update for July 2013.

We’ve been able to operate a few more tours this month as a result of the welcome turn in the weather compared to that which we had experienced for the prvious month.

With 12 tours operating this month, species of interest have varied ranging from the typical winter species such as Buller’s and black-browed albatross, to Salvin’s albatross, Westland petrels and Hutton’s shearwaters. To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.

A few southern giant petrels have been regulars this month, including a visit from a white morph again. We usually have sightings of at least one white morph during the  winter months, although we’re not sure if this was the same individual that was visiting last month, but on one trip it was smart enough to the locate the boat even in the fog!!!

Numbers of black-billed gulls have been steadily increasing this month. Similar in appearance to the red-billed gull, these gulls are endemic to New Zealand, mainly breeding inland along braided river systems. Their diet varies between terrestrial, freshwater and marine invertebrates.

One of our banded birds, Red 73E, paid a visit to Kaikoura this month. It was fascinating to receive an update from the researchers, not only on this individual, but also some of the other banded birds seen in Kaikoura. This male had a successful breeding season in 2012 and wasn’t sighted on the breeding grounds last season, although he was a regular visitor to Encounter II. The most revealing information was the results of a tracking study carried out from 2011-2012, where he sported a shiny geolocator tracking his movements wherever he went. It is obvious from the map of his travels that Kaikoura is definitely his favourite spot, but of course we already knew that with frequent sightings of him throughout the year. Obviously, with years of experience, he knows the best spots to go!!

We reported back in April of a sighting of a banded northern royal albatross from Taiaroa Head, Otago Peninsula. This was for us, the first sighting of this bird in this area. Sadly though, this was the first and last recorded sighting of her, as this bird did not return to her chick or her partner, who patiently awaited her return down in her breeding grounds. As a result, Department of Conservation staff has been feeding the chick to assist the male with his feeding duties. They also built a shelter to protect the chick during the cold winter storms we’ve all experienced this winter. I imagine we will never know what happened to her, although we can only presume that she has perished.....a very sad tale!

The ongoing Million Dollar Mouse campaign is rapidly approaching its $823,518, not far to go now!! To make a contribution or for more information, check out their website: -

So, that’s all our news for now, don't forget to check out our Facebook page for the latest goings on.

Happy birding.

Tour Images
 © Albatross Encounter» The View
 Black-billed Gull.  © Albatross Encounter» Black-billed Gull
 Buller's albatross caught in the act as it begins to take off.  © Albatross Encounter» Buller's Albatross
 The sad story of the missing northern royal. This is the last known location of this albatross.  © Albatross Encounter» Northern Royal
 Red 73E, one of our very frequent visitors.  © Albatross Encounter» Red 73E
 White Morph.  © Albatross Encounter» White Morph


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