SPRING BELLS RING TO WELCOME ROYALS BACK TO DUNEDIN
Dunedin’s bells will be ringing tomorrow to celebrate the first Royal Albatross to return for the spring breeding season at Taiaroa Head.
In a long held tradition Dunedin’s churches, schools and public buildings will be pealing their bells across the city at 1pm Tuesday 18th September
Otago Peninsula Trust Marketing Manager, Sophie Barker says “As well as the traditional bells a “Welcome back” flag will fly outside the Mayors’ office and fans are setting bell chimes on their mobile phones to ring at 1pm. Dunedin hosts the world’s only mainland Royal Albatross Breeding colony which is a source of great pride and a symbol of the city – the Wildlife Capital of New Zealand. We hope that celebrating the return of the albatross and the anticipation of a new breeding season will be good therapy as we say goodbye to this season’s fledglings, seven have fledged already with six left to depart.
First bird back this season is Lime Black White (recorded as LKW) arrived 16 September. LKW is an 11 year old female who is yet to breed. Her parents are ORY (Orange Red Yellow) and BGO (Blue Green Orange)
A bumper season is expected in 2018/19 as there were many failed nests due to extreme weather in 17/18.YWK and KGY the parents of Moana, the first Royalcam chick from 2016 who had a failed breeding attempt this year are expected back this season to breed again.
DOC Ranger Mike Hitchcock says ”September is an exciting time of year for us as we say farewell to the fledging chicks as they take their first flight out to sea and also welcome back the returning birds for the upcoming breeding season. There is always a bit of anticipation to see who is the first to return, who returns to breed, will there be any first time breeders and most exciting is finding out who returns for the first time since fledging many years prior.”
Royal Albatross Centre Manager Hoani Langsbury says “This can be a wonderful time to visit the colony. Viewing can be fascinating as albatross renew their pair bonds with grooming and flying displays while also choosing a place to nest. We still have a number of chicks on view who are entertaining visitors with their wing exercises as they get ready to fledge. The adolescents without mates will be in party mode, doing what teenagers do, impressing prospective mates, building pair bonds and showing off; this leads to impressive flying displays and ground parties (gamming).”
The colony is home to over 250 albatross who, once mature, breed every two years. In 2018 the colony celebrates 80 years since the first albatross chick fledged on September 22 1938.
2017/18 season. 148 birds returned, 5 first time returners. Eggs laid: 33. Infertile = 2, Broken = 2. Early embryo death = 6, Late embryo death = 6. Hatching death = 1, Chick death = 3. 13 chicks = 9 female + 4 male
2016/17 Season 151 albatross returned, a record 17 returned for the first time. There were 36 nests with eggs and 25 chicks hatched with 23 chicks fledging.