Skip Navigation

Day 4: PELAGIC BIRDING!!!

Community Highlights Seafaring Day 4: PELAGIC BIRDING!!!

Hello all,

Today was an action-packed, awesome, seabird-full day of birding at sea, known by birders as pelagic birding. Disclaimer: It is EXTREMELY hard to snap photos of active birds while on a constantly moving boat, especially when you are quite a distance from them, so most of the photos shown today will be pretty blurry.

At about 9 in the morning, we boarded our boat at the local wharf for an all-day tour of the Bay of Islands, focusing on the history of the area, the seabirds, and other marine creatures.

One of our first stops was at a colony of Australasian Gannets, however my first true seabird passed by our boat just before we arrived there. It was a BLUE PENGUIN! It is amazing that these penguins can survive in a subtropical climate, similar to western California, where the daily high temperatures rarely get lower than 60 degrees, even in winter. Here is a cruddy photo of the penguin:
011517952219AC6817860C2989C0B504.jpg

Then we arrived at the gannet colony. Here are a few shots:

The colony itself:
01308DBC2219AC6817A12C2DB6E2022C.jpg

Australasian Gannet parent and chick
014CA31F2219AC6817E8C8DBE3950E90.jpg

Australasian Gannet adult in flight
015E71092219AC6817C2EFF765F806F5.jpg

Also present at the gannet colony was a flock of WHITE-FRONTED TERNS. Here is a picture of one:
01A739942219AC6817A26E5F00DEF8E1.jpg

Then, we headed out of the bay and into the open ocean, and we saw a plethora of shearwater and petrel species. It was a birding extravaganza! The species I positively identified included BULLER'S, FLUTTERING, SHORT-TAILED, and FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATERS along with SLENDER-BILLED PRION, and petrel species such as COOK'S, BLACK-WINGED, CAPE, and SOFT-PLUMAGED PETRELS. Buller's Shearwaters and Cook's Petrels are threatened species, so it was quite a treat to see them. Here are the photos:

Buller's Shearwater (threatened species)
01B825672219AC6817DF49D8DB5AE206.jpg

Fluttering Shearwaters
01C8F07B2219AC68175C7256BA51B057.jpg

Slender-billed Prion
01E4AC662219AC6817850C73273534BC.jpg

Cook's Petrels (threatened species)
01F452062219AC681734B7A41D4AAF23.jpg

Black-winged Petrel
020233812219AC681703104425E1A4DA.jpg

Short-tailed Shearwater
021355702219AC68171EC176C0B519B8.jpg

Cape Petrel
021EAB9E2219AC6817ECF81B25C93771.jpg

Soft-plumaged Petrel
023496FB2219AC6817E99A6ACAE3890C.jpg

Flesh-footed Shearwater
02476DFD2219AC68174657BB3FF835F4.jpg

After the venture into the open ocean, we went back into the bay and stopped at a very peaceful island. When I looked into the water, I happened to see this Snapper fish:
02668FFD2219AC68179F6DEB7539B4C7.jpg

There were a few good birds on the island, also, such as the ones below:

Black-billed Gull, a threatened species
028B0C872219AC68171BD82C51402E80.jpg

Tui
02D14CD52219AC68179C460D6DFC79A4.jpg

Variable Oystercatcher
02FEB3762219AC68170D6D239ADB71DF.jpg

Then, while we were heading back to the wharf at Paihia, the skipper spotted a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins (Coastal subspecies), so he directed the boat over to the pod and I was able to snap a few photos of them.
0312AEEC2219AC68178695898D9512DF.jpg
03199B7C2219AC68177819B5199017A9.jpg
031FDE5A2219AC681761A36721B42CDE.jpg

All of the marine non-bird animals seen today were Sting and Eagle Rays, Snapper Fish, Bottlenose (Coastal) Dolphins, jellyfish, and more. Marine non-bird animal of the day goes to the pod of Bottlenose (Coastal) Dolphins. Bird-of-the-day goes to the Buller's Shearwater, which, despite being a threatened species, was one of the most common and obliging pelagic species present today.

Happy birding!

Henry
World Life List: 467 (up from 457 yesterday)

This featured blog entry was written by skwclar from the blog Birding Around the World.
Read comments or Subscribe

By skwclar

Posted Thu, Jan 16, 2014 | New Zealand | Comments