Home WANDERING ALBATROSS back toECO
Wandering Albatross have a wide oceanic range
and many circumnavigate the globe in the southern latitudes. They
nest on the New Zealand sub-antarctic islands starting in late
January till the single chick flies in the following January.
The adults then miss a year before breeding again. The Wanderer
is the largest of the albatross family we see here around East
Cape it is present year round but is more prevalent in the winter
months. We see them from dark plumaged juvenile birds with their
white mask through to full adults, they are easily distinguished
from the other albatross we see by their size alone. They are
a bird which will readily approach a boat and will eagerly accept
fish, a habit which makes them vulnerable to hooks, however they
don't dive and will only reach about half a metre underwater which
somewhat reduces that vulnerability. It's a great sight to see
a Wanderer approaching the boat, the effortless glide with hardly
a movement, wing-tip centimetres from the water as they turn,
water-ski to a stop and carefully fold away their huge wing-span
before paddling up to the boat and asserting their authority over
any other birds present as they "take over the territory".
NORTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS
We see a good number of royal albatross but
at times they can be difficult to seperate from wanderers as they
rarely come close to the boat and almost never land. The bird
in the photo was one of two that landed by the boat in January
2004 while we were cleaning fish. These magnificent birds breed
at the chatham Islands and there is a small mainland colony at
Tairoa Head in Dunedin.
There are two distinct races of Black-browed
Molly in New Zealand waters, the smaller (D impavida) breeds mainly
on Campbell island and the larger (D melanophris) on Macquarie
island. Nesting starts in October and lasts till the end of March
or early April. Black-browed are the predominant albatross here,
both races are present in about equal numbers as we see two distinct
size birds, the other field characteristic is a pale coloured
eye on on the smaller impavida. Rarely is there a day on the sea
when we don't have several of these impressive birds around the
boat and often groups of 5 or more will sit expectantly waiting
for a handout.
I particularly enjoy seeing this small albatross
as their plumage pattern of a grey head and neck with a white
cap and their bill with a dark band seperating the yellow upper
and lower surfaces gives them a clean sharp look. They are not
as abundant here as the black-browed but we see one or two on
most days. They will land by a boat but tend to stay farther back
than other species. They breed only in New Zealand waters at the
Chatham Islands and the sub-antartic islands. In the Chathams
eggs are laid in October - November with the young flying in April
- May. On the southern islands breeding is about 3 months later.
Cauta is the largest of the mollys, they can
be identified on the wing by their white underwing with narrow
black margines and a black triangle where the leading edge of
the wing meets the body. We see them quite often but not every
day, they will land by the boat but usually stay well back. Breeding
is at the Auckland islands with eggs laid in October and the young
flying in February, March.
Salvini stay well out to sea we usually only
see them when we are 20 miles or more offshore, they are reluctant
to approach a boat but will sometimes land nearby. Sometimes called
the Bounty Island Molly as they only nest on the Bounty and Snares
islands, they are considered to be a sub-species of Cauta. The
distinctive underwing common to all three sub species of cauta
can be clearly seen in the above photo.
is the first of these small molly's I have seen here. These birds
breed at the Tristan da Cunha islands in the Atlantic and on St
Paul and Amsterdam Islands in the Indian Ocean.
This dark shearwater with a pale bill and feet
is the predominant summer offshore shearwater of the East Cape
they are present in large numbers from November till April or
May. They are rarely seen closer than two or three miles from
shore but are very numerous from ten to twenty miles and farther
out to sea. They breed on offshore islands from Cook Strait to
the Hen and Chickens laying in November to December with the young
flying in April.
Grey petrels are a bird we see only occasionally,
they are more prevelant in the winter months. They are circum-polar
in range and breed on sub-antarctic islands in winter, laying
in May with the young flying in November. They are a large distinctive
petrel with grey upper surface and white underparts.
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