Albatross breeding season takes off

Royal albatross chick Tiaki rests on her nest at the Taiaroa Head albatross colony. PHOTO:...
Royal albatross chick Tiaki rests on her nest at the Taiaroa Head albatross colony. PHOTO: DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION
The albatrosses at Pukekura/Taiaroa Head are on track for a record-breaking breeding season, as Royal Cam star Tiaki takes to the skies.

The first of the colony’s albatross chicks to fledge took flight on September 6, and it is expected they will all have fledged by early October.

Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger Theo Thompson said it was rewarding to see so many chicks leaving the colony after a successful season.

‘‘If all of the remaining chicks fledge successfully, we will have a record-breaking year of 30 fledglings. Previously, the highest number of chicks we’ve had fledge is 28,’’ he said.

‘‘Tiaki and the other chicks will spend the next four to 10 years travelling thousands of kilometres at sea without once touching the land, before eventually returning to Taiaroa Head to breed themselves.’’

Tiaki has been a calm but talkative chick who has been healthy all season - providing great viewing for those tuning in to Royal Cam, he said.

So far this season (since December 1, 2020), the livestream has had more than 2.3million views, and was watched for about 400,000 hours.

Doc principal marine science adviser Igor Debski said a 20g solar-powered satellite tracker, fitted to Tiaki on September 9, would provide valuable insight into where the albatrosses went to forage during their early years.

‘‘Tiaki’s parents both had trackers fitted in February. Her father LGK has travelled more than 65,000km since.’’

The trackers are taped to feathers on the birds’ backs.

They are designed to last about a year and will fall off when the albatross moults.


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