Chiming in to greet returning albatross

Ringing a church bell looks pretty simple until you start yanking on the rope.

After about a minute, 4-year-old Rosalie Beyer wiped her brow and said, ''I'm done now'', before walking off.

It didn't matter. Her job was done.

Albatross Yellow White Orange. Photo: Royal Albatross Centre
Albatross Yellow White Orange. Photo: Royal Albatross Centre

Clocktowers, church bells, school bells and even mobile phones rang across Dunedin at 1pm yesterday, to celebrate the arrival of the first royal albatross for the spring breeding season at Taiaroa Head.

Rosalie Beyer, of Dunedin, rings the Opoho Presbyterian Church bell to welcome royal albatrosses back to Taiaroa Head for the spring breeding season. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Rosalie Beyer, of Dunedin, rings the Opoho Presbyterian Church bell to welcome royal albatrosses back to Taiaroa Head for the spring breeding season. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Rosalie's mother, Kirsten Beyer, said her daughter's interest in albatrosses came from her Danish great-grandparents, who were avid ornithologists.

Mrs Beyer said she was introduced to the royal albatross colony from an early age by her grandparents, and she had been taking her own children to the attraction since they were babies.

''Rosalie loves birds. We call them the great mormor bird, because mormor is Danish for grandmother. It's great grandma's bird.''

Rosalie had insisted on ringing the bell in the family's local church, Opoho Presbyterian, to welcome the birds home.

Otago Peninsula Trust marketing manager Sophie Barker said many bells pealed around the city at 1pm, including at St Paul's Cathedral and Knox Church, and a ''welcome back'' flag was flown outside the mayor's office at the Dunedin City Council.

Albatross Yellow White Orange (recorded as YWO) returned on Monday, signalling the start of the breeding season.

Department of Conservation ranger Jim Watts said there was always a bit of anticipation around who would be the first to return, who returned to breed and would there be any first-time breeders. Most exciting was finding out who returned for the first time since fledging many years before.

The colony is home to more than 250 albatrosses which, once mature, breed every two years.

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