Tuesday, June 17, 2008

4 hour tour for keen birders! 12.5.08

On the 12th of May there was an extended four hour pelagic bird tour which left South Bay harbour at 9am and returned at 1pm. On board were New Zealanders Mia Jessen, Shane McPherson, Rob Lawrance, Russell Cannings and two English couples. The skipper was Gary Melville.
The sea conditions were a little rough with a 1.5m southerly swell and 10-15 knt southerly winds. It was decided to take our larger 13m catamaran Lissodelphis which cut through the swell with ease. The first destination was the edge of the Kaikoura canyon with some great looks at Common Diving petrel (Pelecanoides urinatrix) as they buzzed passed the vessel. A wide variety of other species came to the vessel, attracted by a small block of frozen fish liver in a mesh cage. These included endemic species such as Buller's albatross (Thalassarche [bulleri] bulleri) and Westland petrel (Procellaria westlandica).
The next stop was out to a sea mount which rises from depths over 1000m up to 300m. More species were encountered here with great views of both Gibsons (Diomedea exulnas gibsoni) and Antipodean (Diomedea exulnas antipodenis)Wandering albatross as well as both Northern (Macronectes halli)and Southern (Macronectes giganteus) Giant petrel.
The final stop was further off shore where conditions were challenging for those on board but not for the birds who were definitely in their chosen element with spectacular display of aeronautics. It was here that 3 Southern Royal albatross (Diomedea [epomophora] epomophora) made their presence known. At this point seasickness was raising it's ugly head so the vessel cruised back inshore to Barney's rock and calmer waters before returning to the Harbour. The trip was a great success with many species seen, but with the conditions suiting the hardy!
Below is a list of birds seen on the tour.

Southern Royal albatross
Gibsons Wandering albatross
Antipodean Wandering albatross
Black-browed albatross
New Zealand White-capped albatross
Southern Bullers albatross
Northern Giant petrel
Southern Giant petrel
Westland petrel
Cape petrel
Common Diving petrel
Fairy prion
Huttons shearwater
Bullers shearwater
Sooty shearwater
Spotted shag
White-fronted tern
Black-fronted tern
Black-billed gull
Red-billed gull
Black-backed gull
Australasian gannet
Little Blue penguin

So a thanks goes out to those on board who made the trip a success. Having such enthusiastic customers really makes the trip enjoyable to all involved! We look foward to seeing more birders on this and our other pelagic bird tours.


1 comment:

shane mcpherson said...

It was a fantastic day, and I also recall that we got a trifector of dolphins too...
hectors, common, and dusky's!
- shane mcpherson