I’ve posted bird photos on this blog before, but I’m really not a serious birdwatcher (yet). If anything is going to kickstart this hobby, it must be the boat trip that I took in New Zealand with a group from Encounter Kaikoura.
A small boat, a sunny morning, calm seas, a pod of dusky dolphins, and lots of birds, all in the friendly company of “proper” birdwatchers, led by the excellent Captain Gary.
This first bird is a Giant Petrel, or perhaps one of Tolkien’s Nazgul.
Apparently the best way to distinguish the Southern and Northern giant petrels is to look for a brown tip to the beak on the Northern species. Here’s another shot of the same bird, with a better view of its beak. Your guess is as good as mine!
[UPDATE] Actually, we don’t need to rely on anyone’s guess now, because a few days after posting this, I found my checklist from the boat trip, as completed by Captain Gary. Here is the list of species recorded for that trip:
Royal Albatross (1), Gibson’s Wandering Albatross (2), New Zealand White-capped Albatross (6), Salvin’s Albatross (4),
Northern Giant Petrel (10), Westland Petrel (12), White-chinned Petrel (1), Grey-faced Petrel (2), Cape Petrel (14), Hutton’s Shearwater (6), Fluttering Shearwater (1), White-fronted Tern (10),
Black-backed Gull (30), Black-billed Gull (1), Red-billed Gull (25).
After puzzling over the petrels, we spotted the bird that always knows it’s cool – Salvin’s Albatross.
Maybe by “cool” I mean aloof and grumpy.
Even when it’s in the background of a shot of a rather dopey-looking Gibson’s Wandering Albatross.
Here is a link to the Encounter Kaikoura website. I could recommend the albatross tour as the best thing in Kaikoura, but the savoury muffins in the Encounter cafe might just beat it.