Ocean Wings News
Albatross Encounter Update for June 2016
Welcome to the Albatross Encounter update for June 2016.
It’s been a quieter month with only 15 tours operating which is typical for this time of year. New Zealand is generally not seen as a winter destination, unless it’s for snow sports, but bird diversity and abundance tends to be higher in winter when compared to summer months.
Species of interest this month have included northern and southern royal albatross, Salvin’s albatross, common diving petrel, black-billed gull, Caspian tern, fluttering shearwater and black shag.To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.
At the start of the month, we had our first sightings of Antarctic fulmar for the winter season. They are a circumpolar breeder, breeding along the coast of Antarctica before dispersing further afield during winter. They are a regular visitor to Kaikoura waters throughout the winter months and appear to be concentrated south of Haumuri Bluffs which can be a “fulmar hotspot” at times with rafts of up to 6-8 birds being observed.
Black-browed albatross are another regular species seen here in winter time. A photogenic species with striking markings, they tend to be a favourite amongst photographers. Over 70 % of the breeding population breed in the Falkland Islands with a few smaller breeding colonies located in the Sub-Antarctic Islands such as the Snares, Campbell and Antipodes Islands. We managed to capture a great picture of two black-browed albatross performing mutual preening where they approach each other in a low, timid stance, trying to appeal to the other albatross to assist with preening those hard to reach areas.
We were really excited to see an infrequent visitor to Kaikoura; a breeding adult white-winged black tern. Not many have been sighted in New Zealand, in fact fewer than 20, and usually when they’re seen, it’s most often during the summer months, so a real surprise to see this species in June. Not only that, it’s another first for Kaikoura with Gary being able to secure a fabulous shot of this bird in flight and confirm the identification of this rare visitor. The white-winged black tern breeds from Eastern Europe and Middle East to Manchuria, and birds migrate to equatorial and temperate parts of Africa, Asia and Australasia. They have nested occasionally in New Zealand, the most recent record being in 2015.
Towards the end of the month, Gary went out on a 4 hour bird trip and despite some challenging conditions, due to the late arrival of a southerly, they were able to see a wide variety of pelagic birds including grey-faced petrel and a grey-backed storm petrel.
So, that’s all our news for now...till next time……
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