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Albatross Encounter Update for October 2013

Posted by Dennis Buurman (0 Comments)
Tuesday, 19 November 2013 in Default

Welcome to the Albatross Encounter® update for October 2013.

We’ve had a busy month throughout October, not only in terms of visitor numbers, but also with an unusual diversity of birds for this time of year. We’ve been able to operate 38 tours this month which is more than double the number compared to 2012, a sure sign that the summer season is well underway.

Species of interest encountered this month has been diverse incorporating an unusual array of summer and winter species. To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.

We have welcomed the arrival of some of our summer species, including our first sightings for the season of white-chinned petrels, Buller’s shearwaters, flesh-footed shearwaters and Arctic skua. The numbers of species observed on each tour has varied dramatically and late this month we encountered 7 different species of albatross solely on one tour, the highest diversity since the winter months. Albatross species on this trip included all 3 great albatross, black-browed albatross, white-capped albatross, Salvin’s and Buller’s albatross.

Individual species numbers continues to rise with large rafts of Hutton’s shearwaters of up to 10,000 being seen. Westland petrels are also appearing in large numbers with 160 seen on one tour.

Salvin’s and white-capped albatross were seen feeding on a giant “rat-tail” fish, a deep water species found in depths over 3,000m and a New Zealand fur seal was observed eating octopus whilst a few lesser albatross attempted to steal it’s catch.

A few winter species are still visiting us, including black-browed and Buller’s albatross and more unusually an Antarctic fulmar made a brief appearance. Towards the end of the month, reports broke through over the boat (VHF) radio of a white morph being sighted. There are usually reports maybe once or twice a year of a white morph in the area, but these sightings are generally restricted to the middle of winter. White morph’s are southern giant petrels and only 10% of the population have this white morph phase. It was no wonder that Gary sounded surprised to hear this news and took off to find it. Sure enough it was the white morph that found him and the sighting was confirmed.

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All in all, it’s been an interesting month full of surprise and we’re already looking forward to seeing what pelagic birds turn up next month. Remember to follow us on Facebook for the latest happenings out on the water.

So, that’s all our news for now. Happy birding.

Tour Photos
 Beautiful day to be out watching the sea birds off Kaikoura.  © Albatross Encounter» Watching the Birds
 The grey-backed storm petrel is probably the most commonly sighted storm petrel for us here in Kaikoura.  © Albatross Encounter» Grey-backed Storm Petrel
 A raft of Hutton's Shearwaters on the move.  © Albatross Encounter» Hutton's Shearwaters
 Nice close up of a white morph.  © Albatross Encounter» White Morph
 A mottled looking giant petrel spotted on one of our tours this month.  © Albatross Encounter» Mottled Giant Petrel
 The impressive wingspan of the northern royal albatross.  © Albatross Encounter» Northern Royal


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