The Wandering Albatross, Diomedea exulans has been categorized as "vulnerable" to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 2008. With the largest wingspan of any bird these giants can soar for hours. Wandering Albatross mostly feed on fish, squids and floating waste. Spending time around them in the Pacific Ocean off the Kaikoura Peninsula of New Zealand was a memorable experience. I hope these images convey the beauty and majesty of these giants.
Salvin's Albatross, or Salvin's Mollymawk, Thalassarche salvini, is a large seabird that ranges across the Southern Ocean. Adults measure about 90 cm (35 in) and 2.56 m (8.4 ft) across the wings and weigh 3.3–4.9 kg (7.3–11 lb). They are the largest of the "mollymawk" or small albatross group. The IUCN classifies this species as vulnerable. Salvin's Albatross feeds mainly on fish and squid.
The Southern Royal Albatross (Diomedea epomophora) is a large seabird from the albatross family. At an average wingspan of around 3 m (9.8 ft), it is the second largest albatross, behind the Wandering Albatross. As with many other in the albatross family the IUCN classifies this species as vulnerable. They feed primarily on fish and squid.
The Northern Giant Petrel, Macronectes halli.
The Northern Giant Petrel is a large dark seabird with a wing span of between 1.5-2.1 m, also known as: Giant Fulmar, Glutton, Mollymawk, Mother Carey's or Sea Goose, Nelly, Stinker, Stinkpot, Vulture of the seas, Bone-shaker. They commonly feed on carrion and often follow ships to obtain offal. They also prey on krill, squid, and fish. They have been known to kill and eat immature albatross and other seabirds. The Northern Giant Petrel is in an order of seabirds referred to as tube-nosed seabirds, due to their unique nose structure. All tube-noses have tubular nostrils, and all members of this order (Procellariidae) have the openings on top of the upper portion of the bill.
The Westland Petrel (Procellaria westlandica), also known as the Westland Black Petrel or tāiko, is a rare seabird that nests in New Zealand’s forests. It is one of the largest petrels that nest in burrows, and is threatened by species introduced to New Zealand. Measures implemented by the New Zealand Government and the Department of Conservation to control cats, as well as other predators and other threats to the colony have gone a long way to protect the species.
Rated as one of the most intelligent birds in the world, the Kea (Nestor notabilis) is inquisitive and investigates new objects in their alpine environment. Probably best known for their tendency to try to pry apart certain rubberized parts of vehicles, they will peck at tents, clothing, and other objects.
Unfortunately once killed by the thousands for a bounty, they were fully protected in 1986. They are still a rare, “vulnerable” endemic.
In October 2012 I visited the Gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers on Hawke Bay on the north island near Napier, New Zealand. Unfortunately extreme winds destroyed most of the nests and dispersed the birds just a few days before my visit. In spite of this, it is a beautiful location and a number of birds began to reappear and begin nest building again.
Fernbirds are small, secretive birds, often remaining hidden in vegetation. We stayed at the Bushy Point Fernbird B&B and guided by owner Jenny Gamble. It is located near Invercargill in Otatara near the southern tip of the south island. The property is on the edge of the New River Estuary with large expanses of jointed wirerush.
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© William J. Pohley