Back at the ranch


Back at my desk, after four days on a boat in the Abel Tasman/Golden Bay area. I’m tempted to post a selection of my photographs, but I’ll settle for this one (for fellow Sciblogger Chthoniid) of a petrel, taken in Golden Bay a few kilometres off Farewell Spit on Monday morning. Oily seas, hot, lots of birds and kingfish. Click on the picture for a bigger version. Anyone know the exact species? I’d say it was a black petrel, but I’m no ornithologist. I’ll be back on the climate beat over the next few days, but meanwhile my thanks to Bryan for a series of very good posts over the last week.

20 thoughts on “Back at the ranch”

  1. Welcome Back Gareth. Petrel maybe – but it looks more like a shearwater to me. Difficult to tell exactly – you need to see the under body for grey/white smudges etc. But then a sooty shearwater (mutton bird) or Titi has a grey bill. This one has a yellow bill? Anyway an awesome photo. The weather was obviously well settled for a gentle days sailing.

    1. Not much sailing was done until much later in the day, when a Tasman Bay sea breeze blew up. I’ve looked at some of the other pictures, and the birds are all black – no smudges underneath. They were like black stealth bombers swooping low over the water, occasionally letting a wing tip drag on the surface. The bill has a dark tip and lighter base, but not yellow as far as I can tell. We had an entourage of mollymawks, gulls, gannets and cape pigeons as well… not to mention a huge school of kingfish that cruised underneath the cat.

  2. Ahh! In that case it is a Petrel – a Black Petrel or more likely a Westland Black which is slightly larger and frequently seen in Tasman Bay and Cook Strait.
    Sailing – is so good for the soul! I was diving once off Goat Island when surrounded by a school of kingfish! They swam about 5 m in front of me and then disappeared as fast as them came.

      1. Just back from a day at the beach in which a group of orca swam into the bay as I was swimming! My exit from the water was to put it mildly Bloody Impressive! I spotted them coming in around the tor and decided I wasn’t staying in play.

            1. Matheson Bay
              Just round the corner from Leigh.
              It featured on Kim Hill the other Sat – now Auckland Uni Geology Year 2 students won’t be able to do their field project anymore – the secret of the Bay is out! It dived underwater and was then uplifted again. And a brilliant swimming beach.

  3. “I was diving once off Goat Island when surrounded by a school of kingfish! They swam about 5 m in front of me and then disappeared as fast as them came.” – Macro.

    It sure is an awesome experience being circled by a hundred or so large kingfish. I know of a spot where large numbers of kingfish, typically in the 15 to 20 kilo range, congregate every late summer/early autumn. They can circle you for minutes on end, it’s fantastic.

    Don’t worry, I wouldn’t tell a soul where it is, people would hammer the place if they found out.

    Neat photo too Gareth.

    1. Well they can’t hammer Goat Island – it’s a Sanctuary – but there are hundreds who go to Dive in the weekends. I’m fortunate that I can go during the week – far fewer people – the marine biologists and of course the dive schools – and me.
      But yes it was truly awesome.

  4. Thanks for that link Dappled. That’s a really fascinating review. I particularly like this statement:
    “What Ballantine is arguing for is nothing less than a new ocean ethic, in which the ocean is seen not as a commodity we own but as a community of which we are a part. It’s a simple message: The sea is worth saving for its own sake.” It is the ethos we need to be applying to all things actually, the concept of ownership needs to be drastically rethought.
    Have you visited Goat Island recently? Let me know if your ever this way.

  5. Macro, I have never dived at Goat island, although have intended to many times. I’m probably heading that way next week, as I have an upcoming job in Auckland to sort out.

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