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Subantarctic Islands  (reviews, reports)

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Reviews & trip reports

Ian Armitage Trip to Auckland and Campbell Islands as reported to the Waiararapa Branch of the NZ Ornithological Society.

Time: January 2007

Boat: Tiama which has a conscession to do two trips a year, leaving from Bluff

Numbers: 7 plus skipper and included a DOC observer

Cost: Circa $5000/per person for 10 days

As the weather was too rough to take in the Snares, the first stop was at Enderby Island, the northernmost island of the Auckland Islands. The rata was flowering so the tuis and bellbirds were conspicuous.

The Doc station on Enderby was found to be mainly “manned” by women, doing research on Hooker‘s, now New Zealand, sea lions. The wonderful images portrayed sea lions lolling on the beach with numerous and characteristically opportunistic brown skuas.

The group hiked around the island, taking in the bird life, banded dotterels, and Auckland Island pipit which are more yellow than their mainland cousins. The pipits were described as “confiding”, a lovely expression. Red crowned parakeets were common. Light mantled albatross, Antarctic terns and Auckland Island shags and Southern Giant petrels were nesting. There were also a few black backed and red billed gulls. Red polls were numerous and there were a few blackbirds. Auckland Island tomtits were found near the beach and AI teal in the kelp lolling over the beach. Zosterops lateralis were also about. Shy mollymawk or white capped albatross were also on their elevated nests. Such incredibly beautiful birds with their marvelous eyes and affectionate mating behaviour. The Auckland Islands has the largest population of yellow eyed penguins and they were just everywhere. And finally but not least, huge rafts of sooty shearwater.

Campbell Islands has no rata but it does have the Royal albatross and the odd wanderer and erect crested penguins. A sea elephant moulting was almost tripped over. Pipits on Campbell are more yellow still. After the rats were removed from the islands, the pipits repopulated the islands from remnant populations on Dent and Jacquemart Islands. The feature of these islands was the large colony of Black-browed mollymawks nesting on the North East Cape, and of course the CI teal, also survivors from Dent island but supplemented by birds bred at out own Mount Bruce. Pigs have yet to be removed from the islands.

Auckland Island is enclosed by a marine reserve and Campbell Island is in waiting. The herb fields have recovered wonderfully since sheep were taken off the island.

We were also reminded of the ornitholgists who were involved at the coast watch station during WWII., Falla, Fleming and Turbott and other interesting bits of history about these islands. All in all, I think it one of the best shows I have attended.

— Narena Olliver, July, 2007

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(page last updated  July 3, 2011)