Thursday 13 February 2020

Day ten - Strait to the South

A relaxed morning, we met a little later, packed the van and headed south.  A quick stop at a wetland area on the way saw a few birds, but nothing new.  With a cool breeze and cloudy conditions everyone opted to have a quick stop in Wellington.  So we headed south and had a bit of time at the excellent Te Papa National Museum of NZ.
It was then time to head for the ferry, where we checked in and waited.  A couple of spotted shags flew past, so a new trip bird and lifer.  From the ferry we spotted a few fluttering shearwaters in the distance, and a large flock of kelp gulls in all sorts of plumages.  Feeding and flying around.  As we headed out of Wellington Harbour, we had an Arctic skua and a lot more white-fronted terns and fluttering shearwaters feeding.
There was a strong wind blowing, but the sea was pretty flat.  As we got out into the Cook Strait a little we started to see more fluttering shearwaters whipping past the ship.  The odd all dark bird also zipped past, mainly looking like flesh-footed shearwaters.  A bit further on and we had our first albatross – hooray for Morten!  He had now joined a cult of higher mortals…. It was a white-capped albatross, and as we continued along we saw another five or six.  One was reasonably close, so our first albatross under the belt!  We also had a single Cook’s petrel fly past, but nothing else of note.  A little quiet even with the very strong wind blowing.
As we came in to Tory Channel it was sunny and the wind dropped.  More fluttering shearwaters, spotted shags and gulls feeding in places, and a New Zealand fur seal was seen swimming also.  We had beautiful views of the sounds, and then turned into Queen Charlotte Sound, with a single King shag seen flying shortly thereafter.  We enjoyed the sail, arriving into Picton and then heading straight to the accommodation to have a bit of a rest before dinner.  A beautiful meal and then off to bed…what will tomorrow bring!?
Day total – Seen = 42; new for the trip = 3; total for the trip to date = 115
Bird of the day – White-capped albatross x8
Anxiously looking for albatross

Hello South Island
The post 'albatross' celebration

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