3 Kings Islands Seabird Pelagic Report - 17-20 March 2019

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ourspot
Posts: 154
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2016 10:24 pm
Location: Tutukaka Coast

3 Kings Islands Seabird Pelagic Report - 17-20 March 2019

Postby ourspot » Thu Mar 21, 2019 5:33 pm

On Sunday 17th March 2019, six very keen birders and 2 crew headed out of Whangaroa on a four day 3 Kings Islands pelagic seabirds adventure. Onboard were Steve Wood, Tim Barnard, David Thomas, Harry Boorman, Scott Brooks (organiser) and Les Feasey (co-organiser). The trip nearly didn’t happen due to a couple of late boat cancellations but Les somehow managed to secure a last minute boat, and with very favourable fine weather conditions and warm sea temperatures forecast we set off with great anticipation.

We left Whangaroa Harbour and were farewelled by 2 Arctic Skuas, and then picked up 2 Cape Barren Geese on nearby Stephenson’s Island, before heading out to the fabled ‘Gardens’ area with steep drop off and depths of 1000m+. We were interrupted along the way for about 20 minutes while Steve powered in a 220kg Blue Marlin! which we released. After that excitement it was back to birding with a lot of the expected seabirds for the area being picked off as we travelled. Conditions at the Gardens, our first chum spot of the trip, were great with a 10+knot wind and about a 1 metre swell. We got our first (of many) White-naped Petrels which gave a great show and was the first lifer for some on board. Along with the regulars species we also had Storm Petrels (NZ and White-faced), plenty of Black-winged Petrels, Pycroft’s, and some big Albatross. And it wasn’t long before 2 major bird species showed up including 4 Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, and a Kermadec Petrel, all of which provided us with great views. After the chum we headed for the sheltered Tom Bowling Bay for the night.

Day 2 we woke up before sunrise to find 2 Common Diving Petrels had landed on the back of the boat. After releasing the birds we headed off to the 3 Kings Islands on an unexpectedly calm day with little swell and not much wind, Along the way there we had a great fly-by from our first Long-tailed Skua just off the back of the boat, and not long after we had our first whale sighting. When we arrived to the rugged, stunning 3 Kings Islands we went to the Northern Buller’s Mollymawk breeding colony on a rock island which had some adults and a few big fluffy chicks, with more adults swirling around overhead. Then we headed to West Island where we saw 60+ Grey Ternlets roosting, and then our next major bird of the trip – the Black Noddy (that had been reported a few days earlier) which was amongst a big group of Fluttering Shearwaters and Red-Billed Gulls. We then headed out to a 400m chum spot nearby which bought in some of the usual seabird suspects but due to the calmness of the day there wasn’t really a great numbers of birds. We then tried a couple more chum spots with similar results. On the way between the chum spots we had 3 more whale sightings which we’ve narrowed down to either either Sei or Bryde’s Whales. As we headed to a semi-sheltered cove on the main island for the night the wind and swell finally began to pick up with a few more seabirds appearing. As soon as we arrived at the cove we put some lines down and quickly gathered a great selection of fish for dinner. Throughout the night we could hear Black-winged Petrels on the island.

On day 3 we were again up before dark to head off to our major chum spot for the trip out at the famous King’s Bank with it’s sharp drop-offs and other undersea features making for fantastic seabird (and fish) territory. Along the way we spotted 3 more Long-tailed Skuas. When we got to the chum spot conditions were a firm 15 knot easterly and 1 to 1.5 metre swell – perfect conditions for seabirds. And the Kings Bank didn’t disappoint with excellent numbers of seabirds joining us not long after the chum was out, and numbers increasing greatly throughout the 4 hours with seabirds swirling around everywhere. Amongst the usual range of birds we had 2 more Kermadec Petrels (including a pale morph), along with more Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, and our first 2 Wilson’s Storm Petrels. And then from the back of the chum David called out a stunning ‘Gould’s Petrel’ which swept it’s way towards us giving a great show and coming very close to the back of the boat - everyone had fantastic views. During the chum the wind picked up to 20 knots plus, the swell rose more and the birds just keep on coming. WHAT AN AMAZING SPOT! Sadly after approx 3.5 to 4 hours of chumming we had to head off to get back to Tom Bowling Bay for the night.

On day 4 we stopped again at the ‘Gardens’ on our way home for a 2 hour chum in 15 knot easterly winds and 1.5 metre swells. Another great range of birds in large numbers including 20 NZ Storm Petrels, more Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and another Kermadec Petrel. Then Harry picked up our last major for the trip – a White Tern going past just off the back of the boat. A great last epic bird for a fantastic trip.

Over the 4 days we saw a massive 34 seabird species (including 23 tube-nose species) - a great result, and a great adventure had by all onboard.

Here’s the full list of seabirds we saw on the trip (with numbers in brackets being how many we saw at any one time), as well as other bird and marine life seen along the way.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

SEABIRDS:
• Northern Royal Albatross) – 1 (1)
• Wandering Albatross (Gibson’s) – 20 (7)
• White-capped Mollymawk – 17 (3)
• Buller’s Mollymawk – 29 (8)
• GOULD’S PETREL – 1 (1)
• KERMADEC PETREL – 4 (1)
• Grey-faced Petrel – 29 (1)
• White-naped Petrel – 28 (1)
• Black- winged Petrel – 130+ (2)
• Cooks Petrel – 80+ (2)
• Pycroft’s Petrel – 5 (1)
• Black Petrel – 325+ (70)
• WEDGE-TAILED SHEARWATER – 19 (3)
• Sooty Shearwater – 1 (1)
• Flesh-footed Shearwater – 53 (5)
• Buller’s Shearwater – 300+ (10)
• Fluttering Shearwater – 1,250+ (400)
• Little Shearwater – 1 (1)
• Fairy Prion – 18 (3)
• New Zealand Storm Petrel – 40 (16)
• White-faced Storm Petrel – 7 (2)
• Wilson’s Storm Petrel – 4 (2)
• Common Diving Petrel – 13 (2)
• LONG-TAILED SKUA – 5 (3)
• Pomarine Skua – 1 (1)
• Arctic Skua – 8 (2)
• WHITE TERN – 1 (1)
• BLACK NODDY – 1 (1)
• Grey Ternlet – 85 (60)
• Caspian Tern – 2 (1)
• White-fronted Tern – 45 (10)
• Black-backed Gull – 20 (3)
• Red-billed Gull – 1,200+ (500)
• Gannet – 2,200+ (600)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Other birds seen on the journey:
• 5 x Pied Shag
• 1 x Little Shag
• 3 x Black Shag
• 2 x Cape Barren Goose
• 4 x Variable Oystercatcher
• 2 x Kingfisher
• 6 x Bellbird (3 Kings sub-species)
• 2 x Red-crowned Parakeet
• 1 x Fantail
• 5 x Harrier
• 1 x Starling
• 2 x Swallow
• 3 x Silvereye
• 4 x Myna

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Marine life seen on the journey:
• 1 x Blue Marlin caught by Steve - 220kg tagged and released
• 1 x Marlin seen jumping
• 8 x Whales (either Sei or Bryde’s - to be confirmed)
• 30+ x Bottlenose Dolphin
• 15 x Common Dolphins
• 1 x Yellowfin Tuna. Was hooked but taken by big Mako
• 1 x Tuna seen leaping from water
• 1 x Sunfish
• 1 x Seal
• 3 x Sharks
Gould's Petrel_3 Kings_Mar19_LR_IMG_5424.jpg
Gould's Petrel
Gould's Petrel_3 Kings_Mar19_LR_IMG_5424.jpg (347.78 KiB) Viewed 333 times
Kermadec Petrel_3 Kings_Mar19_LR_IMG_5358.jpg
Kermadec Petrel
Kermadec Petrel_3 Kings_Mar19_LR_IMG_5358.jpg (360.17 KiB) Viewed 333 times
Wedge-tailed_Shearwater_3 Kings_Mar19_LR_IMG_5459.jpg
Wedge-tailed Shearwater
Wedge-tailed_Shearwater_3 Kings_Mar19_LR_IMG_5459.jpg (319 KiB) Viewed 333 times
Last edited by ourspot on Thu Mar 21, 2019 8:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Tim Barnard
Posts: 294
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2016 7:30 pm
Location: Okere Falls

Re: 3 Kings Islands Seabird Pelagic Report - 17-20 March 2019

Postby Tim Barnard » Sat Mar 23, 2019 8:08 pm

A great team on board and some amazing birds ... another shot of the Gould's petrel ...
GP_3K.jpg
GP_3K.jpg (78.83 KiB) Viewed 145 times

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