22 Jan 2019

Three new 'awesome albatross' chicks hatched

5:53 pm on 22 January 2019

The first chicks of the year at the royal albatross colony were hatched at Pukekura yesterday.

One of three new chicks hatched.

One of three new chicks hatched. Photo: Supplied / DOC

As is tradition, a happy birthday flag flew from a Dunedin City Council to celebrate the three new chicks.

DOC ranger Jim Watts said a record 51 eggs were laid this year.

"While not all were viable, we are hopeful a high number will hatch successfully this season."

Last year extreme weather conditions led to a higher than usual number of failed nests - just 13 chicks hatched.

Mr Watts said income from visitors and donations from a crowdfunding page directly benefited albatross conservation effort at Pukekura-Taiaroa Head. Last year they replaced the irrigation system used to cool the albatrosses on hot, dry days.

In hot weather albatross chicks are at risk of fly strike (where flies lay eggs on them), heat stress, and infections.

Since September, 149 albatross have been spotted with six birds returning for the first time since fledging between four and ten years ago.

Breeding usually takes place on a two-year cycle, however birds whose nests fail sometimes return the following season to breed - the reason for this year's increased nest and egg numbers.

Otago Peninsula Trust ecotourism manager Hoani Langsbury said it was a "wonderful" time to visit the colony as there were several nests within view the observatory.

"The gorgeous, fluffy chicks are eagerly awaited by all our team who love the birds and enjoy sharing with visitors the exhilaration of seeing awesome albatross."

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