Ocean Wings News
Albatross Encounter Update for May 2016
Welcome to the Albatross Encounter Update for May 2016.
It’s been a quiet month throughout May and although the weather has been mild, tourism numbers have decreased due to the conclusion of the busy summer season. We have operated 16 tours this month with species of interest including northern and southern royal albatross, Westland petrel, common diving petrel, black-billed gull, Caspian tern and pomarine skua. To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.
On the tours that we’ve operated, we’ve had consistent sightings of the great albatross including both the northern and southern royal albatross and of course the wandering albatross. It’s still also a great time of year to see some of the smaller albatross species. We’re frequently asked how many albatross species are typical on our tours and although there’s no norm as such, we’ve seen between 3-6 species on each tour. Wandering albatross are the most commonly sighted species of great albatross here in Kaikoura and although we can never guarantee sightings of any particular species, this is the most likely for us to see. Royal albatross are always a bonus particularly if you are fortunate to see both species.
As winter approaches, numbers and diversity of lesser albatross or mollymawks tend to increase as their breeding season finishes and the birds disperse and forage further afield. Mollymawk is a common term used in New Zealand to describe the lesser albatrosses and originates from a 17th century Dutch word “mallemok” meaning silly gull, a rather unfortunate description for such a photogenic range of albatross. Species commonly sighted this month have included black-browed albatross, Buller’s albatross and the largest of the mollymawks, the white-capped albatross. All three species have been seen hanging out in close proximity to Encounter II, but don’t feed from the chum bag due to the aggressive nature of the wandering albatross and giant petrels competing with each other for food. These smaller, more graceful albatross are more in their element with waste discarded from fishing vessels where it’s discarded loose and with speed and agility on their side, they can race in, grab the fish liver before the other birds arrive.
So, that’s all our news for now.....till next time……
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