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Albatross Encounter Update for February 2014

Posted by Ed Nolan (0 Comments)
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 in Default

Welcome to the Albatross Encounter Update for February 2014.

February has brought some calm days and a few stormy days, but has still enabled us to operate 57 tours this month. Fresh snow adorning the seaward Kaikoura mountain range has challenged the keen photographer to get that dream shot of a soaring albatross with the stunning mountain range behind.

Species of interest this month has included Campbell albatross, Buller’s albatross, Caspian tern, grey-backed and white-faced storm petrels and a black noddy. To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.

We’ve had a wide diversity of birds this month including a few sightings of Buller’s albatross. Frequently seen throughout the winter months, they are an uncommon visitor during the summertime. Another surprise was a Campbell albatross, almost identical to the black-browed albatross, but with a distinctive honey iris. They are endemic to the Campbell Islands and are only occasionally seen here in Kaikoura.

The most unusual sighting this month and the 1st record for Kaikoura, was the sighting of a black noddy or white capped noddy. This bird breeds in the south-western Pacific Ocean and includes the Kermadec Islands. A real tropical bird, this individual was well off course!

Several banded birds have been observed this month including our most famous birds, Red 73E and Orange 512, but we’ve also had visits from Yellow 278 and 2 banded northern royal albatross. It’s not often that we get sightings of northern royal albatross from Taiaroa Head, as these birds generally leave the Otago Peninsula foraging to the east, rather than heading northwards to Kaikoura.

It was quite surprising then to encounter 2 different birds both banded in Dunedin paying us a visit this month. The first bird known as LGO is an adolescent bird that hatched in 2009 and arrived back at Taiaroa Head this year. After being seen here, this bird must have headed straight for Taiaroa Head being sighted there the very next day. The second bird is a young bird on its very first return back to Taiaroa Head.

Red 73E has been seen on a staggering 13 tours this month. He’s sporting a new and highly distinctive marking on his forehead, no doubt from the research team currently down in the Auckland Islands. Red 73E finally found a mate and was successful in rearing his chick in the 2012 breeding season and wasn’t seen on the islands last year. The hope for this year is that he has been reunited with his existing mate and he will once again have a productive breeding season.

Yellow 278 is probably a male Gibson’s banded in the Auckland Islands. He isn’t often observed here, last being sighted on the 1st April last year. This individual is not in the study area for the research team and is rarely sighted on the islands.

The Million Dollar Mouse campaign is almost there with the fund currently sitting at $934,388. The aim of the campaign is raise $1 million dollars to eradicate carnivorous mice predating on native flora and fauna in the Antipodes Islands. Check out their website and see what you can do to assist them reaching their final goal: -

So, that’s all our news for now, watch us us on Facebook.

Till next time.

Tour Photos
 © Albatross Encounter» White-faced Storm Petrel
 Looks like the southern royal may have the advantage in this disagreement!  © Albatross Encounter» Southern Royal versus Gibson's
 Some serious photographers on this trip!  © Albatross Encounter» Long Lenses
 A royal albatross sporting what looks to be a confrontation with a fish hook. Luckily this bird has survived and looks to be doing fine.  © Albatross Encounter» Hook Damage
 © Albatross Encounter» Grey-backed Storm Petrel
 © Albatross Encounter» Yellow 278
 © Albatross Encounter» 73E
 © Albatross Encounter» Banded Royal Albatross
 We had two banded royal albatross from the Tairoa Heads colony in Dunedin in Kaikoura this month.  © Albatross Encounter» Banded Northern Royal


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