This week, ‘Team Alby’ consisting of albatross researcher Kim Kliska and Wildlife Ranger Marcus Salton, made the last ‘summer’ trip down to the south end of the island to wrap up the 2015/16 albatross and giant petrel program. Over ten days we completed work on all four albatross species, saw spectacular auroras and witnessed the grand exit of the royal penguins leaving for winter.
The albatross program monitors the breeding effort and success of all four albatross species: black-browed, grey-headed, light-mantled and wandering albatrosses. This trip we placed small leg-bands on the chicks of two species (grey headed and light-mantled) so we can identify birds individually in future years and obtain data on survival. Each month from now on we have the special privilege of visiting each wandering albatross nest to change camera batteries on the wildlife cameras that monitor chicks remotely. These cameras enable us to determine the date the chicks hatched and potentially identify parent birds and other birds present in the area, while keeping disturbance to the birds at a minimum.
Working in the field this summer has been an incredible experience and we get to witness the ever changing wildlife of Macca. Last week the royal penguin colonies literally emptied overnight, with up to 5000 birds present one day, and all gone the next! Keep an eye out for further wildlife updates over the coming months as we monitor the incredible changes occurring on Macca.
Kim and Marcus