Ocean Wings News
Albatross Encounter Update for August 2013
Welcome to the Albatross Encounter® update for August 2013.
This month saw a continuation of the good weather resulting in days of sunshine and calm seas, with the occasional strong north-easterly wind, which did not prevent us from operating our tours, especially when you have “hardcore” birders ready to embrace the challenging Pacific Ocean.
With 17 tours operating this month, we’ve encountered a diversity of birds with species of interest ranging from the typical winter species, such as Buller’s and black-browed albatross, southern giant petrels, Salvin’s albatross, Westland petrels, fluttering shearwaters and grey-faced petrel. To see what was sighted this month click on our go to our sightings page.
There has been a noticeable decline in the numbers of black-browed and Buller’s albatross and it’s evident that once again it’s at that time of year that we begin to see a subtle change in the species of birds observed. We’ve had some beautiful encounters with black-browed albatross as several albatross have gathered together to preen one another exhibiting behaviour as if they know each other, or may not have seen each other for a long time. With some glorious days, photographers have had amazing opportunities to take photos of the magnificent Buller’s albatross, one that we like to say is one of the most photogenic birds observed here.
It’s been exciting to see a new banded bird for the area that arrived at the back of the boat in late August. This individual sporting a red band 81G is in fact a new bird too for the research team down in the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands. This bird is a female Gibson’s albatross that only turned up on the breeding grounds at Adams Island in 2012. We’re hoping that she realises how important the nutrient rich feeding grounds around Kaikoura are and that we may well encountered her on future visits.
An unusual amount of aggression has been witnessed between wandering albatross and northern giant petrels. Usually, these two species appear to respect one another and can both be seen regularly feeding from the chum bag at the same time. For some unknown reason though, these 2 species have been witnessed fighting with one another on numerous occasions even throughout the tour, maybe the chum blend is just too good to share around!!!
We’ve enjoyed a few encounters watching New Zealand fur seals feeding. Usually the thrashing around created by the seals as they try to break their food down into smaller more manageable pieces attracts the attention of albatross and other birds that are keen to race in and steal the seals hard earned meal. On occasion, albatross have been seen to steal an entire fish off seals who seem confused on surfacing attempting to work out what just happened.
Gary and Lynette had a successful visit to the UK this month for the British BirdFair held at Rutland Water in Leicestershire. This is an annual event that attracts birders from all over the UK and further afield. Lynette and Gary met lots of birders who already have New Zealand on their next destinations list and we look forward to introducing them to Kaikoura’s seabirds.
The ongoing Million Dollar Mouse campaign is creeping towards its $1 million target. The campaign was set up in response to carnivorous mice predating on native flora and fauna in the Antipodes Islands. The fund is currently sitting at $824,618 so if you’re keen to make a contribution and help them achieve their target, check out their website: - www.ourfarsouth.org/milliondollarmouse.
So, that’s all our news for now. Happy birding.
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