If there is one bird that Southern Ocean birders dream of seeing .. it is the Tāiko (Magenta Petrel). Ever since dramatic rediscovery on the Chatham Islands some years ago, it has been a sought after bird.
The keen birders on this 'Birding Down Under Expedition' (that is basically everyone) were up at dawn this morning as we were going to be transitting waters where it is totally reasonable to see this species.
At 10.30am they were rewarded with perhaps the best view we have ever had of a Tāiko. We have seen it in this region on a number of previous expeditions, it usually comes in towards the ship then disappears in a matter of a few minutes, however this bird hung around the vessel for several minutes before disappearing.There was another sighting of the same or different bird about 30 minutes later.. I can tell you there is a lot of celebrating tonight.
We will be at the Chatham Islands tomorrow and will visit the Tuku region on the main island where this species breeds and where there is a concentrated effort to protect and build the only known population of this species.
Photo by Lisle Gwynn