Ocean Wings News
Welcome to the Albatross Encounter® update for May 2014
Welcome to the Albatross Encounter® update for May 2014.
We have been able to operate 14 tours this month with species of interest this month ranging from black-browed and Buller’s albatross, Campbell albatross, southern giant petrel, Antarctic fulmar, short-tailed and sooty shearwaters. To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.
As expected, our tours have quietened down this month with most birders visiting during the spring and summer months. Winter is a great time to visit Kaikoura with a change in species diversity. Our more photogenic albatross such as the Buller’s and black-browed are frequent visitors around the boat and we’ve been fortunate yet again to have a visiting Campbell albatross.
We’re currently still having regular sightings of both the northern and southern royal albatross and more surprisingly is the presence of large numbers of white-capped albatross. Usually this species is more abundant during the summer months and is infrequently sighted during the winter time with some birds migrating to South Africa. However, this year, there has been an obvious increase in the presence of this species with one bird trip reporting a massive 56 individuals. There is no way of knowing why this species is choosing to stay in the area this year but it’s great to still see them here at this time of year.
Large flocks of fairy prions have been sighted throughout the month and once again, it’s not that common to see them in such large numbers and so close inshore. Fairy prions are the smallest of the prion family and one of New Zealand’s most abundant petrels. They breed in burrows around New Zealand and the Subantarctic Islands. With a worldwide population estimated to be around 5 million individuals, Stephen’s Island in the Marlborough Sounds has a breeding population of 1.8 million pairs.
Other unusual species that have been seen out at sea have been black swans and Canadian geese, but this is more than likely to be a smart manoeuvre on the bird’s behalf due to the start of the annual duck shooting season. These birds must know the safest places to hang out!!!
Barney’s Rock is proving to be a popular roosting location for spotted shags. Spotted shags are a yellow footed shag that are endemic to New Zealand. They breed on rocky islets and coastal cliffs along the Kaikoura coastline, but don’t breed at Barney’s Rock, choosing to use it as a roosting site. Also sighted at Barney’s Rock this month has been the much larger black shag commonly referred to as cormorants in other parts of the world. We don’t often see this species around Kaikoura but measuring up to 88cm in length, they clearly stand out amongst the spotted shags.
So, as things quieten down, that’s all our news for now.
Till next time.
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