Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Birding Down Under: Pyramid Rock & South East Island (Chathams)

Pyramid Rock

This is what this rock is famous for....
virtually the entire world population of
Chatham Island Albatross.

Northern Royal Albatross

Buller's Albatross

Just returning from the ocean 
off South America!

We sailed towards Pyramid Rock on the 29th November. It was quite rough but sunny. The light was perfect for photography in the early morning off the stern & I filled my boots! It was a magical few hours!

Isolated & not very big, but of mega importance 
for breeding seabirds.

Chatham island Albatross

We passed the rock twice & had great views of the 5,000+ pairs of Chatham Island Albatross. 

Cape Petrel

Grey-backed Storm Petrel

Not the best shots in the world, 
but difficult to photograph.

As we sailed away towards South East Island on the Chatham Group sea-birding  continued to be quite good, with a good range of species noted.

Buller's Albatross

Within a few kilometers of leaving Pyramid Rock behind us the Chatham Island Albatross just disappeared! It appears to be incredibly localized, certainly at this time of year. Buller's Albatrosses kept following us though.

South East Island

Pitt Island Shag

Shore Plover

White fronted Tern

Taken just before it hit the water!

Chatham Island Shag

In the afternoon despite the strong winds we used the zodiacs to visit a so called sheltered bay off South East Island. It was quite rough & difficult to photograph anything, but we did enjoy good views of Pitt Island Shag & Shore Plover!

The injured Fur Seal

We also saw a New Zealand Fur Seal that had been bitten by a shark, possibly a Great White, which are common in these waters.

Peter Kaestner & myself.
Photo courtesy of  Einar Gall.

The evening was spent off the main island looking for both Magenta & Chatham Island Petrel & we scored! I saw three Magenta Petrels!! It was a good night in the bar!

Best birds were:

14 Northern Royal Albatross; 5,000+ pairs of Chatham Island Albatross; 70 Northern (Pacific) Buller’s Albatross; 45 Northern Giant Petrels; 300++ Prion sp. (possibly both Fairy & Broad Billed but difficult in fading light); 3 Magenta Petrels; 15 White Chinned Petrels; 300+ Sooty Shearwater; 25 Grey Backed Storm Petrel; 10 White Faced Storm Petrel; 6 Black Bellied Storm Petrel; South Georgian (Sub Antarctic) Diving Petrel; 2 Common Diving Petrel; 15 Pitt Island Shag; 2 Chatham Island Shag; 4 Chatham Island Oystercatcher; 4 Shore Plover; 50+ White Fronted Tern; 3 Brown Skua & 9 Chatham Island Red-Crowned Parakeet.

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