Cook Strait pelagic 14 Feb 2021

Bird sighting information. Use this forum to report bird sightings (especially rare and unusual birds), census and field count results, and trip reports. Messages posted to this forum will also be sent as a plain text email to the BIRDING-NZ newsgroup.
Colin Miskelly
Posts: 799
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 6:31 pm

Cook Strait pelagic 14 Feb 2021

Postby Colin Miskelly » Sun Feb 14, 2021 4:23 pm

Kia ora koutou

Wellington Branch of Birds New Zealand organised a pelagic trip from Seaview marina out to Nicholson Canyon (Cook Strait) today. Thanks to Michael Szabo, Geoff de Lisle, and skipper Jonathan Delich (Cook Strait Fishing Charters) for their organising.

The trip was fully-booked by 20 Birds New Zealand members (or should-be members), 14 of whom signed up to shared eBird/Atlas checklists (three checklists submitted for different sections of the route taken).

Birds-of-the-day were two Cook’s petrels (too distant for photography). Otherwise the species were all typical, but in different proportions to what I have experienced on several March and April trips on the same vessel to the same site. Notable absences were black-browed mollymawk, Buller’s mollymawk and Gibson’s wandering albatross, while Westland petrel, Cape petrel and fairy prion were in low numbers. There were notably high numbers of flesh-footed shearwater and northern royal albatross.

The following list is from the outermost (Nicholson Canyon) sector. I didn’t take any photos, but others may like to add some.
4 southern black-backed gull
1 white-fronted tern
7 white-capped mollymawk
27 Salvin’s mollymawk
4 southern royal albatross
7 northern royal albatross
1 southern giant petrel
3 northern giant petrel
3 Cape petrel
2 Cook’s petrel
1 fairy prion
3 white-chinned petrel
5 Westland petrel
14 flesh-footed shearwater
2 Buller’s shearwater
5 sooty shearwater
2 Australasian gannet

30 common dolphins
1 distant whale blow (probably sperm whale)

Ngā mihi
Posts: 1170
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2011 10:05 am

Re: Cook Strait pelagic 14 Feb 2021

Postby Davidthomas » Sun Feb 14, 2021 8:41 pm

Interesting that cooks aren’t super expected. There was a large movement of Cooks through the strait on Wednesday 10th of February I had approx 35 on the open section of the ferry crossing.
User avatar
Oscar Thomas
Posts: 566
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2011 7:15 pm
Location: Dunedin

Re: Cook Strait pelagic 14 Feb 2021

Postby Oscar Thomas » Sun Feb 14, 2021 9:33 pm

Would northern or southern Cooks be more plausible? I had a few off Rakiura last week and the odd one as far south as the halfway point from Snares to Aucklands, along with 6 Black-winged Petrels in the same stretch.
Alan Tennyson
Posts: 167
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2010 1:54 pm

Re: Cook Strait pelagic 14 Feb 2021

Postby Alan Tennyson » Mon Feb 15, 2021 12:32 am

Cook's are increasing everywhere. We never used to see them off the Cook Strait ferry but they've gradually increased - 35 might be a record. Similarly we didn't used to see them going south to the subantarctics but they've now become regular, certainly around Rakiura. Birds from both main colonies have increased massively in numbers and have been tracked ranging throughout NZ seas. Black-winged petrels in subantarctic waters might be a first?
User avatar
Michael Szabo
Posts: 1590
Joined: Sun May 08, 2011 12:30 pm

Re: Cook Strait pelagic 14 Feb 2021

Postby Michael Szabo » Tue Feb 16, 2021 8:53 am

I've posted photos to Facebook of the following seabird species seen on the trip (see link below):
Southern Royal Albatross, Salvin's Albatross, White-chinned Petrel, Northern Giant Petrel, Northern Royal Albatross, White-capped Albatross, Flesh-footed Shearwater, Westland Petrel, Sooty Shearwater, Buller's Shearwater, and Cape Petrel.

Link to photos: ... 1903877905
'New Zealand Birders' Facebook group:

Return to “Bird Sightings and Alerts”