Ocean Wings News
Albatross Encounter Update for November 2014
Welcome to the Albatross Encounter® update for November 2014.
Well the promise of a nice summer has not yet been felt in Kaikoura, with a mixed bag of conditions dished uo so far! Although wind is great for birds, there is a limit with which we are able to operate our tours, but despite this, we have been busy and were able to operate 60 tours this month. No weather problems were experienced when seabird expert Debi Shearwater, visited Kaikoura and the sun shone making it all the better for bird watching.
Species of interest this month has included grey-faced petrel, royal spoonbill, Cook's petrel, Caspian tern, artic skua, reef heron, Buller’s shearwater and black-browed albatross. To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.
We have continued to see an increase in the numbers of bird species arriving back into the area after a winter migration. Species such as short-tailed shearwaters, sooty and Buller’s shearwaters have been on the rise. Despite being well and truly into spring, we are still continuing to see some winter species this month including several southern giant petrels. Distinguished from the northern giant petrels by the greenish coloration at the tip of the bill, it can sometimes be a challenge to point out the one giant petrel that looks slightly different in amongst the squabbling masses of northern giant petrels fighting amongst one another.
We’ve been enjoying the presence of several commercial fishing vessels operating close to South Bay fishing on the edge of the continental shelf. With a wide range of oceanic birds frequenting fishing boats, it’s always a great place to start our tours with congregations of birds hoping to get a feed. Lesser albatross such as Salvin’s and white-capped albatross are more in their element in these circumstances being able to rush in and seize loose fisheries scraps rather than brave the chum in our chum bag at the back of Encounter II. Several black-browed albatross have also been observed following these fishing boats.
We’ve had visits from several banded birds including Red 73E and Orange 512. It’s always exciting to see banded birds. The numbers of banded birds have declined over the years and research has shown that our Gibson’s wandering albatross are travelling further afield in search of food. This has led them into conflict with longline fisheries, but a ban of daytime setting of longlines has been successful in reducing the numbers of bycatch. Throughout the year, we used to see quite a wide variety of banded bands however it’s really only our regular Red 73E, who loves Kaikoura, being seen here on 4 tours this month. On average, he pays us a visit every 3-4 months. Orange 512 was last seen here at the end of June and we’re hoping that she’s having a successful breeding season, we already looking forward to an update from the researchers to see if her chick fledged successfully when they return to the Auckland Islands next year.
So, that’s all our news for now.....till next time.
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