Sunday, 5 October 2014

Sub-Antarctic Islands off New Zealalnd & Australia 1999

In November, 1999, thanks to the internet, Doreen and myself had the chance to purchase
tickets at half price on the Heritage Expedition Cruise to the Sub-Antarctic Islands, departing from Bluff, on South Island, New Zealand in just 2 weeks time on the 6th December, 1999.
We took up the option and after booking the flights via Birdquest we flew into Sydney, Australia on the 5th December. From there we flew into Christchurch, New Zealand for a 3 hour stop-over, and we visited areas around the airport, we flew on to Invercargill and stayed overnight at the Kelvin Hotel.

The next morning, woke early and went out for an early morning walk to the river near the airport at Invarcargill and saw our first lifers for the holiday. After breakfast, we were picked up
and we visited the local museum which had an exhibition from the Sub-Antarctic region. We were then taken out to a local site on the coast near Bluff, before heading to the dock at Bluff for embarkation onto the m/v Akademik Shokalskiy, which is a converted Russian ice-breaker. One of the crew members had an accident earlier and had been taken to the local hospital and therefore a short delay and we eventually set off during the evening. We did not waste our time at Bluff as we did some local birding around the dock finding White Fronted Terns breeding, some Spotted Shags and of interest some Lesser Redpolls.

The Expedition cruise, after leaving Bluff, first visited The Snares, onto the Auckland Islands where we spent a superb day on Enderby Island. We then sailed to Macquarie Island (owned by Australia), and this took almost 2 days. We spent almost 2 days on Macquarie Island before setting off towards Campbell Island. At Campbell Island we spent a full day exploring the Island, on our own, in glorious sunny weather. A full day at sea before we arrived at the Antipodes. Unfortunately, owing to rough weather we were unable to land here, but we did anchor off the Antipodes and also cruised around all day before leaving for the Bounties. We arrived at the Bounties late the following morning and were soon in the zodiacs cruising close to the cliffs and stacks and enjoying the superb sights of thousands and thousands of Salvin Albatrosses. We now headed off to the Chatham Islands which took almost a day and a half. By 6.00 am the following morning we were off Pyramid Rock enjoying good numbers of Chatham Albatross which only breeds on Pyramid Rock. After several hours here, we cruised around the rock and other stacks before positioning ourselves off South East Island. Here we used the zodiacs to explore the wave platforms on this Island looking for and seeing the rare Shore Plovers and Chatham Island Oystercatchers as well at the endemic Shags etc. During the evening we positioned ourselves out to sea, hoping to see Chatham Island Petrels or even a Magenta Petrel coming into their breeding sites, but these unfortunately did not show. The following day, we landed on the main Chatham Island and went for a long walk in the Taiko Nature Reserve and saw more of the local Chatham Island birds including a Weka running around in a local garage.

We departed for Wellington during the evening and spent the following day sea-watching en-route to Wellington Harbour, arriving here early the following morning, of the 22nd December, 1999 where we dis-embarked and we were transferred to Wellington Airport for our flight back to London. In total we sailed some 2,457 nautical miles from Bluff.

Southern Royal Albatross on Campbell Island.

Map showing Antarctica & the Sub-Antarctica Islands.

Map showing New Zealand and the Sub-Antarctica Islands.
During the cruise we travelled 2,457 Nautical miles.

Embarkation at Bluff, South Island, New Zealand.

Leaving Bluff, South Island, New Zealand, next stop The Snares.

I will now show the following pictures etc., not in date or site order but have
grouped the pictures in individual species or Islands, together with some

Yellow Eyed Penguin - Considered to be the rarest Penguin in the World.
They tend to be shyer than other Penguins and only come ashore in small numbers.

We recorded 25 on Enderby Island, with a further 2 on the main
Auckland Island, and 10 on Campbell Island.

White Fronted Terns found breeding on the dock site at Bluff.
We also found small numbers on the Snares, the Auckland Isles,
30 were seen on the Chathams and when we arrived in Wellington
a further 40 were seen.

White Headed Petrels - Recorded on 8 dates and proved
to be commoner than expected with a daily maximum of 70 birds.

Various White Headed Petrels.

Various White Chinned Petrels - Seen almost daily with
maximums of 100 on a day.

Note the pale tip to the bill.

White Chinned Petrel with Cape Petrel

White Chinned Petrel with Campbells Albatross.

White Capped Albatross - 65,000 pairs are estimated to breed
on the Auckland Islands.

White Capped Albatross with a Cape Petrel.

White Capped Albatrosses

White Capped & Salvins Albatross with Sooty Shearwater.

White Capped struggles with a Salvin Albatross for some chum.

White Capped & Salvins Albatrosses off the Auckland Islands.

White Capped, & Southern Royal Albatrosses.

White Capped Albatross colony on the Auckland Islands.

White Capped Albatross

Arriving at the Auckland Islands.

The Akademik Shokalskiy anchored in Carnley Harbour, Enderby Island.

Views around Enderby & Auckland Islands.

Flowers with Bulbinella rossii on Enderby

Bulbinella rossii in full flower.

Anisotome latifolia

Bulbinella rossii on Enderby Island.

Leaving the Enderby & the other Auckland Islands.

Double Banded Plover - 120+ were found on Enderby Island
they belong to a distinct race exilis, and are noticeably larger
than birds seen on the mainland New Zealand.

Tomtit of the race marrineri on Enderby Island.

We recorded 5o on the Island including a small number of all black birds.

New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Snipe

We found 4 of these strange Snipes on Enderby Island.

If flushed they would only fly a short distance before disappearing into cover.

A mixed feeding flock of Storm Petrels, Prions etc on our
approach to the Chathams.

Fur Seals were recorded from a number of Islands,
including the Bounties and Chathams.

Spotted Shags with a Kelp Gull standing on a quay at Bluff, South Island.

Southern Royal Albatross on Campbell Island

7,500 pairs are estimated to breed on Campbell Island and
we spent a full day here in glorious weather. Unforgettable.

Southern Royal Albatross on its nest on Campbell Island
with our cruise ship in the background.

The nests are widely scattered throughout the Island.

They can be i/d from Northern Royal by white mixed in with
black on the upper-wings and from Wandering by no black markings
on the tail and the black line running down the centre of the bill.

We sat just a few feet from the sitting birds, who took no
notice of us at all.

Southern Royal Albatross, showing well the upper-wing.

Two Southern Royals with a Salvins.

Southern Royal with 2 Campbells off Campbell Island.

Southern Royals squabbling for chum.

On one area on the Island, young adult birds gathered.

Southern Giant Petrel after feeding on a dead whale - Recorded on just 5 dates with a daily
maximum of 60. Majority were seen in the Macquaire Island area.

Southern & Northern Giant Petrels on Macquarie Island.

White phase of Southern Giant Petrel with a Northern Giant Petrel, off Macquarie Island.

Several white phase Southern Giant Petrels were seen in the Southern part of our trip.

Sooty Shearwater - As expected good numbers seen
on virtually all the sea-watches with a maximum of
25,000 on the 9th.

Very large numbers breed on the Snares and several
million have been estimated.

Sooty Shearwaters with Cape Pigeons off the Snares.

Sooty Shearwaters off the Snares.

Some record shots of Soft Plumage Petrels. We recorded them
on 7 dates with a daily maximum of 15 birds. Often seen during
the evenings

Some birds seen in the late evening, appeared to
have quite dark throats although this may have been
caused due to the poor light.

Soft Plumage Petrels never really came close to our boat
and proved difficult to get decent photographs.

Snowy type Wandering Albatross between the Chathams
and Wellington, New Zealand which spent several hours
around out vessel.

Snowy type Wandering with a Gibsons Wandering Albatross.

We also saw 2 other Snowy types off Macquarie Island.

Snowy Albatrosses are basically just old Wandering Albatrosses.

There was some debate on this individual, as some Snowies
show more extensive white on the upper-wings. To my eye,
the pale pink bill and softer appearance around the head,
whiter looking when sat on the sea all looked good for a Snowy.

Snowy type Wandering Albatross.

Arriving at the Snares

Not allowed to land on the Snares, so we did a zodiac cruise.

Tree Daisy - Olearia lyalli vegetation.

Cover on The Snares

Departing from the Snares.

800 Snares Crested Penguins were seen from a zodiac as we cruised
around the Snares as landings are not permitted on the Snares.

Several colonies were seen. They almost appeared to walk
down to meet us.

Always a lot of activity to watch at Penguin colonies.

Many Snares Crested Penguins were also in the sea fishing.

One of the World's rarest waders, 9 Shore Plovers were seen on
one of the wave platforms on South East Island in the Chathams.
We approached and photographed them in a zodiac
The World's population is in the region of 140 birds.

Arriving at the Bounties.

Rodney Russ, the Expedition leader, getting the
zodiac ready.

No landings possible on the Bounties, but plenty of time
for exploring in the zodiacs.

This has to be the place to watch Salvins Albatrosses.

Spectular cliff scenery & Albatross colonies.

Salvins Albatross belongs to the Shy Albatross Group.

Breeds in their thousands on the Snares and an estimated
80,000 pairs on the Bounties.

We recorded them on 9 dates with up to 20,000 + off the Bounties.

Shows the distinctive black notch where the fore-wing meets
the body, other members of the Shy Albatross Group also
have this black notch.

Adult Salvins were quite easy to i/d from other members
of the Shy Albatross although the immatures were more
difficult with a whiter crown and could be confused with White-capped.

Salvins Albatrosses around the Bounties.

One of several breeding colonies seen on the Bounties.

They proved quite aggressive after the chum.

Arriving at Macquarie Island. The low lying strip of land
is known as the Isthmus and Base Camp is located here.

Akademik Shokalskiy anchored off Sandy Bay.

Zodiacs transferring us to Sandy Bay on Macquarie Island.

View show the Isthmus with the Base Camp.

Several views of a walk around Sandy Bay

Walking higher we came across the mega herb patch with
a small Royal Penguin colony.

Stilbocarpa polaris (cabbage type) on Macquarie Island.

Following Day we went on a zodiac cruise along Lusitania Bay.

The Macaroni type Penguin which I found in a Royal Penguin
colony on Sandy Bay.

Royal Penguins only breed on Macquarie Island in some very large rookeries.

On our first visit we estimated 15,000+ birds were seen
in the Sandy Bay area.

They are very closely related to the Maraconi Penguin
which has an all black face and throat.

The Royal Penguin has generally 2 colour phases,
the common one with a white face and the second like this
bird with a darker smoky like face.

Royal & King Penguin having a dis-agreement!!

The white-face variety.

Shows both white faced and smoky face birds.

Some large impressive rookeries were seen on Macquarie Island.

Small Rockhopper Penguin colony of the subspecie filholi
on Macquarie Island. We also saw 3 birds on the Antipodes.

Common Lesser Redpoll was seen before we departed New Zealand at Bluff,
also seen on most of the Sub-Antarctic Islands, although we could not find any on
Macquarie Island.

Red Crowned Parakeets - 150+ were seen on Enderby Island,
in the Auckland Islands. They proved to be tame and were feeding
on the grass seed.

We also saw from the zodiacs several of the Chatham Island race
chatahmensis, but I was unable to photograph these.

On Enderby Island, this distinctive yellow colour form
was seen on a number of different birds.

Pitt Island Shag on its breeding cliff on the Chathams.
We recorded 30 whilst around the Chathams.

Pitt Island Shag.

Pacific Bulller's Albatrosses - Breeds on the Chatham Islands with
an estimated breeding population of around 30,000 pairs.

We recorded them on just 3 dates with 120 seen around the Chathams.

There are 2 species of Bullers Albatross, the second form is
known as just Buller's Albatross and breeds chiefly on the Snares.
They tend to breed late in the season and when we visited the Snares, none
were present. We did however see one during the trip, and they have a much
whiter crown than the Pacific Bullers.

Pacific Buller's Albatrosses with a Northern Giant Petrel
off the Chathams.

Pacific Buller's Albatrosses off the Chathams.

Northern Royal Albatross - 8,000 pairs breed on the Chatham Islands,
with a very small breeding population on Taiaroa Head, South Island, New Zealand.

Northern Royal Albatross with a Cape Petrel,

The all solid black wings identify it from the Southern Royal Albatross.

We recorded Northern Royal Albatrosses on seven dates
with a daily maximum of 12.

Northern Giant Petrel with Pacific Bullers Albatrosses.

Northern Giant Petrel feeding on a dead whale washed up on Macquaire Island.

Northern Giant Petrels with Brown Skua

Northern Giant Petrels were seen virtually daily often with over 100
on a day.

Hookers Sea-lions on Enderby Beach.

Hookers Sea-Lions on The Snares.

New Zealand Pipit-100 of the distinctive race aucklandicus were seen on Enderby Island
in the Auckland Islands. They were extremely tame and not at all like Australisan Pipit, or
Richards Pipits. They were even calling like a Flava Wagtail. We also saw 4 of the race
chathamensis from the zodiac off South East Island in the Chathams, and they appeared very similar to these birds.

Mottled Petrels were seen on 9 dates with a daily maximum of 15.

Macquarie Shags, up to 45 were seen on our second day.

View taken on Macquarie Island at a King Penguin colony
and Elephant Seals.

Macaroni type Penguin in the Royal Penguin colony on Macquarie Island.

The jet black face and throat are very distinctive from the Royal Penguin.

Little Blue Penguin, just odd birds seen. This one was first seen
swimming in the sea, but then landed on a wave platform on South
East Island in the Chathams and was photographed from a zodiac.

Light Mantled Sooty Albatross on its nest on the Auckland Islands.
5,000 pairs have been estimated breeding on these Islands.
When passing a small colony, you could hear them making a loud
haunting wild call - Superb.

On a zodiac cruise at Macquarie Island, where 500 pairs are estimated to bred,
we came across this pair sat on the sea in misty with drizzle conditions.
The zodiac approached them so close, I could have touched them.
The pair took no notice of us.

This Albatross was taken in bright evening sunlight with the light
reflecting onto the bird. The eye appeared quite blue in the field,
but not caught by the camera.

A beautiful light phase type Light Mantled Sooty Albatross, without
the white eyelids, the only one of its type seen on the trip.

One of the beautiful sights, was watching the synchronize display flight
of a pair of Light Mantled Sooty Albatrosses over their breeding grounds.

Light Mantled Sooty Albatrosses were seen by ourselves on nine dates
during the trip.

Elephant Seals with Royal Penguins on Macquarie Island.

We watched Elephant Seals loafing on the beaches
on most of the Sub-Antarctic Islands.

Elephant Seals loafing on the beach at Sandy Bay
on Macquarie Island close to a King Penguin colony.

Baby Elephant Seal

Elephant Seals sparring with one another.

This Elephant Seal took a fancy to Doreen, and rubbed
itself up against Doreen's leg.

King Penguins were only seen on this trip on and around Macquarie Island.
We first recorded approx. 10,000 in Sandy Bay and the following day
we had a zodiac cruise along Lusitiania Bay looking at various colonies and
probably saw in the region of 1 million birds, a truly memorable day.

Various views of some of the King Penguins colonies on Macquarie Island

KingPenguins with Elephant Seals on Macquarie Island.

King Penguins around one of the old Penguin boilers in Lusitiania Bay on Macquarie Island.
The Penguins would be walked into the boilers and then the boilers would be fired up to collect the Penguin oil.

Mixed colony of King and Royal Penguins on Macquaire Island

Adult Kelp Gulls. They were seen in small numbers on most of the
Sub-Antarctic Islands.

Sub-adult Kelp Gulls.

The attractive Grey Headed Albatross with other Albatrosses,
this proved to be our only sighting of one sat on the sea.

A dark headed looking Grey Headed Albatross.

We only recorded Grey-headed Albatrosses on 4 dates with no
more than 5 on a day. It does breed on Macquarie and Campbell
Islands on the Sub-Antarctic Islands but is far commoner around Antarctica.

Showing some small white patches in the wind on this bird.

Various Grey Faced Petrels, with 80 seen en-route to the Chathams
& 35 seen between the Chathams and Wellington, New Zealand.

Various Adults Gibson Albatrosses around the Auckland Islands. We visited
a local colony but not a single bird was present. Small numbers seen on eight different
days with a daily maximum of 50 as we left the Auckland Islands. They are a member of
the Wandering Albatross Group

Juvenile type Gibsons Albatross

Gibsons and Southern Royal Albatrosses.

Gentoo Penguins were only seen on or around Macquarie Island with
500 on the 12th.

Juvenile Gentoo's on Macquarie Island

Gentoo Penguins with young Southern Elephant Seal on Macquarie Island

Fulmar Prion leaving its breeding cliffs on the Bounty Islands.

Various Fulmar Prions around the Bounty Islands. In total seen on 4 dates
with a daily maximum of 50 seen around the Bounty Islands.

After much searching, we located 2 Auckland Flightless Teals on Enderby Island.
They were sat in the entrance to their burrows but as we approached they quickly
disappeared down into the burrows.

Flesh-footed Shearwaters were only seen on our last day when 60
were logged between the Chathams and Wellington, New Zealand.

Poor record shots of Fairy Prion, fairly numerous with a daily maximum of 100.

Erect Crested Penguins with Fur Seals.

Erect Crested Penguins with 2,000 seen at the Antipodes
and 5,000 seen from the zodiacs around the Bounties.

Record shot of a Cook's Petrel. Just seen in small numbers on 3 dates only.

Heading towards the Chathams.

We cruised around a number of Island and stacks off
the Chatham Islands. This is known as the Sail.

We used the zodiacs to get closer to South East Island
as no landings are permitted on this Island.

We searched the wave platforms for both Chatham Island
Oystercatcher and Shore Plovers and found both.
The following day, we visited a local Nature Reserve and
although it rained a lot we saw some good birds.

Departing from the Chathams on our final leg
to Wellington,New Zealand.

Just 12 Chatham Islands Shags seen on South East Island.

Chatham Island Oystercatcher on South East Island, and photographed from a zodiac as we could not land. It is restricted to the Chathams with a small breeding population of about 100 pairs

Pyramid Rock, Chatham Islands, the only breeding site for the
Chatham Albatross with a breeding population of around 4,000 pairs.

Chatham Albatross with a Pacific Bullers.

Various Chatham Albatrosses seen in the vicinity of Pyramid Rock.
My favourite Albatross, it only breeds on Pyramid Rock and it belongs to the Shy Albatross group and as we passed Pyramid Rock we saw 300 birds.

Two Chatham Albatrosses with two Pacific Bullers Albatrosses.

Party of Snares Cape Petrels off the Snares.

Cape Petrels were very common and seen virtually daily with a maximum of c7,000
birds on a day. Most of the Cape Petrels seen belonged to the Snares Island race australe, which
has less white on the upper-wing although we did also see some belonging to the more Southern race capense.

Cape Petrel with Campbell Albatross.

Arriving at Campbell Island

The Old Base Camp on Campbell Island.

The Quay on Campbell Island.

A pair of Light Mantled Sooty Albatross
were displaying over this hill.

We spent a full day in superb weather on Campbell Island.

Following pictures are various views taken on our day
on Campbell Island.

This breeding Southern Royal Albatross had superb views.

You can just make out Shokalskiy anchored in the Sound

The boardwalk across Campbell Island.

Following pictures are of the various mega herbs, plants
and flowers found by ourselves on Campbell Island

Hebe benthamii

Pleurophllum speciosum

Mega Herb sp.

Pleurophllum speciosum

Stilbocarpa polaris (Cabbage plant)

Tussock Grass

Pleurophyllum hookerii

Evening time, almost ready to leave.

Leaving Campbell Island at sunset.

Campbell Albatross

Adult and Juvenile type Campbell Albatross.

Campbell Albatross was seen in fair numbers on 5 dates in the vicinity of Campbell Island.
Although similar to Black-browed Albatross, the distinctive white eye at close range seperates
it from Black-browed. It has only been found breeding on Campbell Island with an estimate of some 70,000 pairs.

Campbell Island Shag on the jetty on Campbell Island.
Just 30 seen on our day on Campbell Island.

Brown Skuas (aka Sub-Antarctic Skua) were present on all the Islands.
We also saw some on the Bounties, where it has not been recorded breeding there.

Broad-billed Prion near the Snares.

Bounty Island Shags on the Bounty Islands. We saw 80 from our zodiac.

Party of Bounty Island Shags en-route to the Bounty Islands.

Various Black-bellied Storm Petrels. Recorded in fair numbers on 10 dates with
a daily maximum of 150.

Bellbird proved to be common on Enderby Island.

Various Black-browed Albatrosses.

Australian Gannet as we approached South Island, New Zealand.

Auckland Island Shag on Enderby Island part of the Auckland Islands. We recorded 50 on Enderby Island and 20 on the main Auckland Island.
Some birds were showing a blackish neck, not to dis-similar to the Campbell Island Shag.

Arriving at the Antipodes after a rough night.

We anchored off the Antipodes where the sea was just to rough to land.

We had 2 scientists on board who were hoping to be dropped
off on the Antipodes to stay.

As we could not land it cost us Antipode Parakeet

Departing from the Antipodes, an excellent sea-watch
until it was dark made up for the disappointment of not
being able to land. Next stop the Bounties.

Antipodean Albatross

Various ages of the Antipodean Albatross taken off the Antipodes.
The Antipodean Albatross is part of the Wandering Albatross group and an estimated
1,000 pairs breed on the Antipodes and also a few have been recorded on Campbell Island.
We recorded it in low numbers on 6 dates with a daily maximum of 20.

Antarctic Terns on the Snares. Seen on most of the Sub-Antarctic Islands, but not on the Chathams.

Juvenile Antarctic Tern on the Snares.

Various Antarctic Prions. Proved to be very common in the South with
a daily maximum of 1,000.

Approaching Wellington Harbour and time to disembark.

Sunset over the Chathams.

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