Ocean Wings News
Albatross Encounter Update for June 2015
Welcome to the Albatross Encounter Update for June 2015.
It’s been a quiet month for trips in June which is to be expected. This has been as a result of a combination of factors, including bad weather and the usual downturn in tourism numbers which is expected throughout winter. 7 tours have operated this month including one 4 hour bird trip. Despite the low numbers of tours, we’ve encountered a wide diversity of bird species.
Species of interest this month has included black-browed and Buller’s albatross, fairy prions, Westland petrel, short-tailed shearwater, black-billed gulls, grey-faced petrel and fluttering shearwater. To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.
We still continue to enjoy observing birds that are following commercial fishing boats on the edge of the Kaikoura Canyon system. The numbers and diversity of species seen here can be quite astounding with some commercial fishermen commenting on some days that they’ve seen more birds than ever before. Albatross species in the area still include quite a few species of lesser albatross, such as the occasional Salvin’s albatross, white-capped albatross and our typical winter birds, the Buller’s and black-browed albatross. Great albatrosses include our regular wandering albatross, but we’re still seeing northern and southern royal albatross from time to time.
We had a 4 hour bird trip for the Ornithological Society for New Zealand at the beginning of the month and on this trip we were lucky enough to see a total of 25 bird species, as well as an unusual sighting of a soft-plumaged petrel. These birds breed in the subtropical and sub-Antarctic Islands of the South Atlantic and South Indian Ocean’s. In New Zealand waters, they only breed on the Sub-Antarctic Antipodes Islands. Sightings of this bird in Kaikoura is a rarity.
We’re also encountered our first Antarctic fulmar for the winter season. Similar in appearance to gulls, they are mainly solitary. From time to time though, we have seen small rafts of up to 7 individuals off the Conway River. Antarctic fulmars range around the Southern Ocean and breed along the Antarctic coastline nesting on cliffs. They forage further afield during the winter months bringing them northwards towards Kaikoura. Feeding on krill, crustaceans and fish, they can also be seen scavenging around fishing vessels.
Fairy prions have been seen in large numbers rafting in groups of up to 400 individuals. They never seem to land by the boat and have a delicate flight pattern dipping down to the ocean to catch their prey. They are the smallest of the prion species and certainly present a challenge for any photographer trying to catch them in flight.
Orange 512 made another appearance this month. She was last seen in Kaikoura a month ago. Despite a long absence, she has made several visits over the last few months and we’re hoping that she may want to visit on a more regular basis again.
So, that’s all our news for now.
Till next time.....
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