Ocean Wings News
Albatross Encounter Update March 2016
Welcome to the Albatross Encounter update for March 2016.
We’ve had another busy month operating 64 tours.Species of interest this month have included Campbell albatross, southern giant petrel, Wilson’s storm petrel, pomarine skua, Caspian tern and common diving petrel. To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.
It’s been an exciting season here at Albatross Encounter. Not only were we excited to report the 1st ever sighting off Kaikoura of the grey-headed albatross, but also the first ever recorded sighting of an Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross off Kaikoura (Wow!!).
Initially, this albatross was quickly called as Buller’s albatross, but then changed to a yellow-nosed albatross, before calling it as a grey-headed albatross. Unfortunately, this individual soared quickly past the boat and was gone, enabling only a few shaky shots to be taken. It wasn’t until the image was posted on our Facebook page that Russell Cannings asked the question “Why isn’t it a yellow-nosed albatross?” A fantastic question that caused a flurry of comments.
Grey-headed albatross and Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross are similar in appearance, however, due to this bird having a lighter grey head and a different bill pattern, there was a general consensus that this bird was an Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross. This is a first for Albatross Encounter and a first for mainland New Zealand. Sightings of this species have only ever been recorded in New Zealand on three previous occasions, all of which have been in the Chatham Islands. It’s a huge “tick” for all of those on board and no doubt made others slightly jealous they weren’t on the boat that trip! Thanks to all of those who made comments and valuable identification tips to positively identify this albatross.
It’s a busy time of year for the Hutton’s shearwaters. Endemic to Kaikoura, they’re an alpine breeding seabird that breed high up in the Seaward Kaikoura mountain range. Chicks start to fledge from mid-March however, with the Kaikoura Township in the flight path of these birds as they make their way to the ocean for the first time, they can become disorientated with the lights in town and crash land on their maiden voyage. The Hutton’s Shearwater Charitable Trust has been raising the profile of their plight encouraging locals and visitors to pick these birds up and take them to a drop off point at the Department of Conservation. After the birds are banded, some of the birds are dropped off at Encounter Kaikoura so that we are able to release them on our Albatross Encounter tours.
Red 73E and Orange 512 have returned once again this month with Orange 512 observed on an astonishing 11 tours. We’re frequently asked how easy it is to determine age, sex, or if we are able to recognise any birds, but unless they’re banded, it’s almost impossible unless they arrive sporting a large colour band and are able to read the band number.
So, that’s all our news for now......till next time……
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