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Big Year Underway At Albatross Colony

Familiar faces are returning for the new season of Royal Cam, with a big breeding year underway for the toroa/northern royal albatross colony on Otago’s windswept Pukekura/Taiaroa Head.

More than 120 albatrosses, a taonga species, have returned to the colony for the coming season, with more than 40 eggs laid. The eggs will start hatching in mid-January before fledging more than seven months later in September or October.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) intensively manages the birds from nesting until when the chicks fledge (leave the nest).

DOC Ranger Sharyn Broni says it’s the second highest number of eggs recorded at the colony and is the sign of a good season ahead.

Royal Albatross Centre Operations Manager Hoani Langsbury says having the globe-travelling northern royal albatross returned to Pukekura for another season, and the high number of nests and eggs, brings positivity to the end of a challenging and unique 2020.

Meanwhile, in a Royal Cam first, fan favourites LGL (female) and LGK (male) will once again be livestreamed to screens around the world.

The couple are the parents of Karere, the star of the 2018/19 season. This is the first time a pair has been seen mating and the egg laid in view of the cam.

LGL and LGK have set up a nest and laid an egg, which has been candled to check it is fertile. It is their third breeding attempt at the Pukekura/Taiaroa Head colony after they first got together in 2017.

The camera was moved closer to the new nest on Sunday. The livestream is run with the support of New York university Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which partnered with the programme in 2019 and significantly boosted its reach internationally.

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Sharyn Broni says LGL and LGK were chosen for the livestream because they nested close to where last season’s chick Atawhai was raised, so regular viewers had already become excited to watch them set up their nest and lay their egg.

“Since fledging Karere in 2019, they have had a year to build up condition for the 2020/21 breeding season.”

Last season (December 2019 to September 2020), the livestream had more than 2.5 million views globally and was watched for 584,033 hours.

Cornell University are hosting an online Q&A with Sharyn Broni about the effort to conserve the albatross on Tuesday at 10am. For more info, including RSVP information, visit https://www.allaboutbirds.org/cams/rsvp-for-royal-albatross-qa-with-wildlife-ranger-sharyn-broni/

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