Record number of albatross chicks likely

An albatross nurses its egg at Taiaroa Head yesterday. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
An albatross nurses its egg at Taiaroa Head yesterday. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
High fertility rates among Taiaroa Head albatross eggs after a bumper laying season means the colony is still on track for record chick numbers.

From an all-time high of 51 eggs at the colony this year, 43 have been found to be viable by staff.

Otago Peninsula Trust marketing manager Sophie Baker said it was now hoping for colder weather than last year so no more died before hatching.

Of 33 eggs last season only 13 chicks fledged due to continued heat.

"While everybody is praying for a lovely new year, we're hoping `please let it be a little bit chilly'."

The proportion of fertile eggs this year "sounded about right" compared to what was expected, she said.

Last month the centre replaced its irrigation system, used to cool the birds on hot dry days, so pipes could deal with extreme weather conditions.

It also had new egg-handling and supplementary feeding equipment to improve albatross management.

Twenty-one pairs had returned from last season and 147 individuals were seen overall.

The eggs are expected to hatch late January and early February.

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