Monday 7 November 2011

Lovin' Kaiks

We headed off with the wind still pretty strong from the south-west, and with a little time up our sleeves before the pelagic started headed for the Seal colony.  We checked out the loafing seals and there were a few ruddy turnstone and even a couple of godwit on the rocky platforms.  We could see hundreds of Hutton’s shearwaters streaming past at sea, and even one or two albatross...

A quick scenic stop (unbelievable on a birding tour!) at the Lookout, and then down to South Bay to meet Gazza our skipper and jump on the boat.  We were in one of the larger boats, and the wind was still honking, but we hadn’t even hardly got out of the South Bay harbour and there were albatross and Cape petrels around us.  We headed out into the wind and it wasn’t actually too bad, with the masses of birds making up for it.  We got a little way out and one of the local fishing boats was working with an absolute swarm behind it, so we headed towards that and started chumming.  There were birds everywhere and it was truly one of the best Kaikoura pelagics!  At one stage as the fishing boat went past there were literally 50+ Westland petrels behind it.  Many of the birds came over to us, and Gazza stayed at the helm and guided the boat slowly into the swell, and then we turned and motored with the swell slowly so the light was in the right direction.  We had both Northern and Southern Royal albatrosses, at least 20+ New Zealand wandering, mostly Northern giant petrels, but at least one very hungry Southern Royal, and good numbers of Salvin’s albatrosses.  Westland petrels were picked amongst for the odd white-chinned which ended up showing really well, and although it didn’t show particularly well we had a very late in the season Antarctic fulmar.  Surprisingly there were also a lot of sooty shearwaters, with 20+ birds.

The photographers were clicking away and we had an incredible time.  Despite the lively conditions, nobody was sick...there were too many birds to keep everyone occupied!  We headed along to another point on the canyon edge and chummed a bit longer, with a similar assemblage of birds.  Just magic stuff.  We then headed in towards Barney’s Rock and picked up good numbers of Hutton’s shearwaters, and as we headed over there an Arctic skua showed itself well.  We also had a couple of dusky dolphins head past us, and as we headed back for the marina a small pod of Hector’s dolphins showed really well – a nice finale to the trip.

We arrived back into port and then had a great lunch at the Encounter Cafe – great food thanks guys!  After lunch it was free time, an opportunity to take a break, check email, get some washing done, etc.  Myself and Steve Wood decided to head back out on the water for the afternoon trip, with the wind having dropped it really was like another different day on the water.  Numbers of birds in general had dropped, but we still had some great photo opportunities and picked up a young black-browed albatross and grey-faced petrel  that hadn’t been seen during the morning.  We also had massive flocks of feeding Hutton’s shearwaters just off the peninsula which was fantastic.

Dinner was at a local restaurant, and then an early night (for some!) before another big day.

Bird of the day – Hector’s dolphin x1 (does it have feathers??!!), Cape petrel x2, New Zealand albatross x3, Salvin’s albatross x1
Day total – Seen = 45; new for the trip = 7; total for the trip to date = 142

A couple of NZ wanderers have a go

Northern giant petrel coming in to land

Taking off

Southern Royal albatross flying past

White-chinned petrel coming in


Salvin's albatross about to land

Salvin's albatross

And 'em

Antarctic fulmar

Salvin's albatross with coast i nthe background

Salvin's headshot as it flies past

New Zealand wandering albatross coming in to land

Sooty shearwater flying past

New Zealand wandering albatross coming in to land

Salvin's treading water

Westland petrel against the blue

Sooty shearwater against the blue

Sooty shearwater

Headshot of a New Zealand wandering albatross

Sooty shearwater coming in to land

Hector's dolphin coming for a look

Immature Northern Royal albatross coming in

Northern giant petrel calling as it lands

Westland petrel

Cape petrel banking

Hutton's shearwater zipping across the waves

Big flock of Hutton's shearwaters

Feeding frenzy of Hutton's shearwaters

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