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Albatross Encounter Update for July 2016
Welcome to the Albatross Encounter Update for July 2016.
It’s been a quieter month as expected with the winter season upon us with only 11 tours operating. The weather has been settled, although the odd windy day has been great for bringing birds up from Antarctica.
Species of interest this month have included northern and southern royal albatross, Salvin’s albatross, common diving petrel, black-billed gull, fluttering shearwater, and southern giant petrel.To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.
The star of the month was a lone yellow-eyed penguin that wandered up the driveway to the South Bay maintenance shed and introduced itself to Steve, one of our South Bay crew. This penguin is a juvenile that first arrived in Kaikoura back in May, it was given the name Moonshine and sent to Christchurch for rehabilitation due to it being a little underweight. It was released at Banks Peninsula and took only a mere 5 days to return to Kaikoura and greet a startled Steve. Now, it’s on its way further south to Dunedin where it’s hopefully a little safer and it might find a few more penguins to hang out with.
Large flocks of fairy prions have been seen on a regular basis. Fairy prions are the smallest of the prion species. Blue-grey in colour, they have a distinctive black ‘M’ pattern across the upper wings and back. Having a tendency to follow wave troughs, this small petrel can be a huge challenge to photographers trying to capture the perfect shot of a fairy prion in flight. Native to New Zealand, the closest breeding colonies to Kaikoura are located in the Marlborough Sounds, and Motunau Island. Stephen's Island in the Marlborough Sounds has an estimated breeding population of a staggering 1.83 million pairs.
Another challenging species to photograph is the common diving petrel. Again, a small seabird that flies fast and close to the ocean surface, this winter is the most we’ve ever seen. They have an amazing feeding technique known as pursuit diving where they dive under the water using their wings for propulsion in search of prey such as krill and other small crustaceans. In New Zealand they have been recorded diving down to 22m, but have been recorded diving down to 64m in the sub-Antarctic.
So, despite being a quiet month, there’s a lot happening in the productive Kaikoura waters with sightings of some of our summer visitors such as Salvin’s albatross and Westland petrels already making an appearance. It’ll be interesting to see what species visit next month.
We’re still running our Hanmer Springs promotion. For those booking a successful tour with Encounter Kaikoura direct or through the Kaikoura I-site, passengers will be issued with a voucher entitling them to free entry at Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa. A great way to relax after an Albatross tour.
So, that’s all our news for now..till next time……
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