Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Weeks Report from Brent Stephenson

One of New Zealand's premier bird watchers, Brent Stephenson of Wrybill Tours and Eco-Vista photography was down in Kaikoura for the week and has posted his report on the birding New Zealand forum:

Hi all,
Just heading home from a great 9 days in the South Island, with most time spent in Kaikoura. In all I managed to get out on six trips during this time. Good numbers of the usual suspects with the most common albatross being NZ wandering (all probably Gibson’s with no classic Antipodean seen) and Salvin’s. Over the six tours we did have a single Buller’s alb and latterly several black-browed, with white-capped seen in small numbers and one or two Southern Royals on most trips. Lots of Northern giant petrels, but no Southerns, Westland petrels were common, but only one or two white-chinned petrels per trip, and lots of Cape petrels of course. Sooty shearwaters put in an appearance in big numbers last week, obviously being held up after one of the southerlies, and then small numbers on most trips with ones and twos of short-tailed shearwaters on most trips also. Yesterday (Tues 19 Oct) we had the first Buller’s shearwater during my stint down there, and an ANTARCTIC FULMAR which made a brief pass of the boat before disappearing.
Today (Wed 20 Oct) we had 50+ fairy prions after the southerly last night, with no different prions amongst them – I checked a lot of them and took a lot of photos too, but yet to check those. The star of today however, was a GREY-BACKED STORM-PETREL which came in whilst we were pretty close in and fed in the slick for more than ½ and hour, at times being within 5m of the boat. Excellent views of this great little bird.
A big thanks to Dennis and Lynette at,
and Jo and Alex for their hospitality. Thanks heaps guys!
I will post some photos here in the next day or so.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Gary helps with albatross rescue

On Saturday Gary helped with the rescue of an old friend of his. A local charter fisherman, Ian Croucher saw a female Gibsons wanderer with close to 100m of braided fishing line wrapped tightly around her legs. He immediately called Gary who encouraged him to 'have a go'! at retreiving the bird onto his boat. Other than a knock on the head from one of her wings Ian managed to get the bird onto his boat and bring her into the marina. Gary met him there and the pair of them preceded to cut the line off her and were pleased to see the blood return to her leg and no apparent permanent damage.

Once the bird was cut free Gary took her back out to sea on Lissodelphis (one of the Dolphin Encounter vessels) where he released her and after a stretch of her wings she was happy to use both feet to sim off.

This female is special to Gary as she is the most sighted banded bird in the Kaikoura region. She is a 15 year old female Gibsons who is known to have had 3 different attempts at courship with no success (she is still single!) - Gary thinks it is because she knows how beautiful she is!

There is no doubt that without the keen eyes of Ian Croucher and both the skippers freeing her she would not have lasted long, so a great story.

See the Marlborough Express article.