Ocean Wings News
Albatross Encounter Update for September 2014
Welcome to the Albatross Encounter Update for September 2014.
We’ve had a fairly quiet month this month with 14 albatross tours operating. It is however a great time of year to participate in an albatross tour as we move into a warmer season. There’s a change in species diversity as our winter species begin to move away off to their breeding grounds and our summer birds return from their winter migrations. This change in seasons presents us with a great opportunity to still catch some remaining winter species as well as witness species generally only observed in summer months. Although now in spring, winter species that we’ve seen this month include southern giant petrels, Antarctic fulmar and Buller’s albatross. Whilw we welcome summer species such as Hutton’s shearwaters, Westland and white-chinned petrels and sooty shearwaters.
We’ve had a wide diversity of bird species this month including grey-faced petrel, fairy prions, black-fronted tern, black-billed gull, Australasian gannet, northern royals and Salvin’s albatross. To see what was sighted this month click go to our sightings page.
Our endemic seabird the Hutton’s shearwater has just returned from their annual winter migration. These shearwaters are an endangered species with only 2 natural breeding colonies remaining high up in the Seaward Kaikoura Mountains. This small shearwater has an intriguing breeding location, breeding in the mountains between 1200-1800m high. An estimation of the abundance of Hutton’s has been carried out by a team of scientists and volunteers this month with some Hutton’s spray painted red. We’ve spotted a few of these birds on our tours and it will be interesting to hear if the population has changed significantly since the last count 12 years ago. Interestingly, a few Hutton’s have crash landed in and around the Kaikoura Township this month with locals bringing them into Encounter Kaikoura so that we are able to take them back out to sea to release them. This is something quite unusual for this time of year, as it’s typical at the end of the breeding season for young birds just fledging to get confused by the lights in Kaikoura and crash land, but we’re not sure why these birds are doing it at this time of year. So, for a lucky few passengers they’ve been able to get up close and personal with a few fortunate Hutton’s that were released back into their natural environment.
Red 73E, our regular banded Gibson’s albatross paid a very brief visit, only being encountered on 1 tour. He is such an enigmatic bird, last seen on a few occasions in August, but prior to that his last visit was in February. The research team know he loves Kaikoura, but we always wonder just where he hangs out in the Kaikoura area as clearly it’s not always around our bird boat, Encounter II. We know he was breeding in the Sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands last summer and hopefully his chick is still going strong.
So, that’s all our news for now.
Till next time........
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