9. Seabirds in general, except tubenoses

This penultimate blog is relatively short although I admit that I have got carried away with the photos of the Australasian Gannets (henceforth Aus. Gannets), a superb species when seen close up as we could. There is a variety of photographs of terns and gulls,  plus some of shags and cormorants and one or two of penguins.
In order to set the scene, a map of the three main sites where we had major successes.
Main pelagic excursion areas: Hauraki Gulf was excellent and is always recommendable; the best known place is undoubtedly Kaikoura where they run a tight seabirding ship under skipper Gary. Stewart Island was very good too as being the most southerly but the most difficult to access, but check with Matt and Ty whose names and addresses are in the first of this series of blogs for advice/help - we had a hell of a good day out with Ty.
Kaikoura Encounter offices, not only for seabird pelagics with very knowledgeable skipper Gary but also diving with dolphins and watching cetaceans. Apart from 2 pelagics in one day during the tour, I went back for three full days and did 5 more pelagics and had a ball of a time.

Blue / Little Penguin, we also saw Yellow-eyed (chick in photo below) and Fjordland Crested.

Yellow-eyed Penguin chick, mum had to come ashore running the gauntlet of a sealion!
Australasian gannet colony at Muriwai, as visible as anyone could wish and as good as the Bss Rock for sighting. These birds, described by Bryan Nelson as (more or less) 'big, brave, and brainless' are wonderful to watch.

'sky-pointing', equivalent to 'welcome back from fishing, darling'.
... but if you land in the wrong place you're going have the living daylights pecked out of you!
Little Black Shag
Spotted Shag
Pied Shag
Black-billed Gull
Red-billed Gull (= Silver Gull in Australia, two countries, two names, same species)

2 photos of Grey Ternlet, once known as Blue Noddy; delicate retiring little birds.
Kelp Gulls, 1 juv, and 1 imm at right
Kelp Gull, imm.

Black-billed Terns (2 photos)
White-fronted Tern
White-fronted Tern and chick
We also saw 1 Black Noddy, a major rarity, Pomarine and Brown Skuas, Caspian Tern.

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