Up early, yep early! It was dark outside, and still dark as we got on to the boat at South Bay. Gazza was up early and we were out on the water before the sun was up. With an impending front approaching, it was wise to get out and get a pelagic under our belt before it could ruin our plans. So we headed out, found a fishing boat pulling in its catch and checked out a few of the albatross around it. White-capped, Salvin’s and a few New Zealand wandering right there! Very nice.
We then headed out further, the light was increasing and although the sun was not yet above the horizon we could easily see the birds following us. Cape petrels, a New Zealand wandering albatross or two, and some Northern giant petrels as well. We made it to our planned location and set the chum into the water. Pretty soon the birds were gathering, and the Cape petrels were squabbling! We had a good number of birds around, with both Westland and white-chinned petrel side by side for good comparisons, a few Buller’s shearwaters flitted past, as did some Hutton’s of course at more distance, but pretty darn close for them, and we also had a flesh-footed and a sooty drift past over the time we spent chumming. We also had both Northern and Southern Royals, good numbers of New Zealand wandering, and a few each of white-capped and Salvin’s albatross. But we also were visited by a very special bird – an absolute minter juvenile wandering albatross that looked like it had just flown from the nest. There was even a wisp of down still on its neck!!! Amazing! It hung around a little while, and then after not being fed by any adults, or allowed to get to the chum, it decided food had to be somewhere else. What a beautiful bird!
We spent a good bit of time chumming, but it was soon time to head back in. We had certainly beaten the weather, with pretty nice conditions, and the Kaikoura ranges completely visible and uncloaked by cloud. Back at South Bay be loaded up and headed back to the Albatross Encounter base, having a quick look around, grab a coffee, and then back to the Motel for a bit. James headed out on a dolphin watch, getting some pretty nice views of dusky, Hector’s and short-beaked common dolphins, and the rest of us took a break to do things at the accommodation.
Later in the morning we headed out exploring the local area, looking for shorebirds and cirl buntings. We found some banded dotterel and also a female cirl, as well as a few other things of interest. Then had a nice sit down lunch at the Albatross Encounter Café, before most headed out on a Whale Watch trip. Sounds like pretty great views of a couple of sperm whale, so everyone had a great day. The weather deteriorated after that, with light rain and then by the time we finished up dinner it was absolutely hosing it down! Let’s see what tomorrow brings!
Bird of the day– Cape petrel x3, Wandering albatross x2, Salvin’s albatross x2, Southern Royal albatross x1
|Up before the sun has its advantages|
|Nice and close to the birds|
|The front approaches, but beautiful scenery|