Photo 80002, (c) Anita, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA)

379541771_b4f9d536df
Attribution © Anita
Cc-by-nc-sa_small some rights reserved
Source Flickr
original http://www.flickr.com/photos/61897811@N00/379541771
Associated observations

Photos / Sounds

379541771_b4f9d536df_s

What

Royal Albatross Diomedea epomophora

Observer

anita363

Date

December 15, 2006 06:05 PM EST

Description

The tip of the Otago Peninsula (off Dunedin) hosts the only mainland nesting colony of the threatened Royal Albatross. These tremendous birds have up to a 3-meter (yes, >9 ft) wingspan. The colony itself is accessible only via guided tour from the Royal Albatross Centre , although you can see birds on the wing without taking the tour. This photo was taken thru the smoked-glass window of the observation blind built by the Centre, and has been color-corrected to compensate. This year there were ~half a dozen nesting pairs, plus the 'singles scene': unpaired birds soar and swoop above the colony at speeds up to 115 kph (70 mph), seeking the mate of their dreams. (Me, I've found mine now -- hence the honeymoon.) It's quite a sight (and not an easy shot)! They mate for life, not starting until ~age 15, and can live to over 60. A pair typically raises only 1 chick every 3 yrs: 11 wk to incubate the egg and 9 mo to raise the chick to fledging. Once the young bird takes off on its maiden flight, it will not touch dry land again for at least 2 years: it circumnavigates the Antarctic, feeding on the rich Southern Ocean. Its parents do likewise, and it probably takes them all 2 yrs to recover from the experience before they're ready to begin the cycle again!

This location also host the only mainland nesting colony of the Bronze Shag (Stewart Island Cormorant).

Sizes