Welcome to Birdquest
Monday 31st October - Friday 18th November 2011
This cruise, which visits the Snares, the Auckland Islands, Macquarie Island, Campbell Island, the Antipodes Islands, the Bounty Islands and the Chatham Islands, provides what must surely be one of the most outstanding seabird experiences possible anywhere on our planet. Anyone interested in seabirds and penguins must do this tour once in their lifetime! During our 18 day voyage we visited a succession of tiny specks of land in the vast Southern Ocean that provided an extraordinary array of penguins, albatrosses, petrels, storm-petrels and shags, as well as some of the world’s rarest landbirds. Throughout our voyage, there was a wonderful feeling of wilderness, so rare these days on our overcrowded planet. Most of the islands that we visited were uninhabited and we hardly saw another ship in all the time we were at sea.
On the 2011 tour we recorded 125 bird species, of which 42 were tubenoses including no less than 14 forms of albatrosses, 24 species of shearwaters, petrels and prions, and four species of storm-petrels! On land, we were treated to magical encounters with a variety of breeding penguins (in total a whopping nine species) and albatrosses, plus a selection of the rarest land birds in the World. Trip highlights included close encounters with the Royal, King and Gentoo Penguins on Macquarie Island, face-to-face contact with Southern Royal Albatrosses on Campbell Island, huge numbers of Salvin’s and Chatham Albatrosses squabbling for food off the stern of the ship, Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses performing their beautiful display flight over a cliff face on Campbell, the triple sighting of the rare Magenta Petrel after we had given up all the hope of seeing this enigmatic species, large numbers of delightful Snares Crested and Erect-crested Penguins at their breeding colonies, close encounters with flightless Auckland Island and Campbell Island Teals, several New Zealand Snipe on Enderby Island, and excellent sightings of rare Chatham Island Oystercatchers and Shore Plovers in the Chatham Islands. The six species of shags with very restricted ranges in the Subantarctic islands, although perhaps not quite as exciting, are also worth a mention here! Mammalian highlights included magnificent New Zealand Sea-Lions in the Auckland Islands and on Campbell Island, a large rookery of New Zealand Fur Seals in the Bounty Islands, large numbers of Southern Elephant Seals including some massive beach masters on Macquarie and a nice selection of cetaceans including a very close pod of curious Common Bottle-nosed Dolphins and a great show, including aerial jumps, by two Southern Bottlenose Whales.