New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands - 2008

incredible to be so close to these enormous birds and see their interactions when quarrelling among themselves and with others species over the food. Albatross can be aggressive and they have loud braying calls as well as sharp staccato bill clicking when agitated. So we had it all—visual and audio looks at these magnificent birds. It was a banquet for the camera-bearers for sure. We were also lucky enough see Dusky Dolphins and the smallest of all Dolphins, the Hector’s, unique to New Zealand, and the lovely and exceedingly rare blue shark. Because commercial whaling ended here in the mid-20 century, the whales have made a comeback and return to this area of great upwellings all during the year. The folks who chose to go whale watching were rewarded with good views of three sperm whales during their boating adventure along with many of the birds and mammals we on the bird boat saw. Though somewhat contrived, our wildlife experience in Kaikoura was splendid and exhilarating. While hiking along the headland of the Kaikoura Peninsula, we saw many birds, native and non, as well as red-billed gulls, and a fur seal haul out. The headland was quite beautiful with wonderful sea views, waving (non- native) grasses, with blue cloud tossed skies overhead. But the wonderful thing we learned about here was another DOC program to rescue the Hutton ’s Shearwater, a native seabird whose numbers are declining rapidly, probably through loss or degradation of their usual habitat for breeding. The only place in New Zealand where these birds breed and nest is in the alpine valleys above Kaikoura. The researchers with DOC decided about three years ago that this area was no longer hospitable to the birds and made plans to relocate their breeding grounds. Because the birds always return to the same place, the ornithologists decided it would be fairly simple to accomplish this purpose. After the adult birds have finished their feeding of the chicks, they abandon them in their nest burrows. It takes about a week or two for the chicks to realize mom t

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