RFI Cook Strait ferry, NZ

To: John Leonard <>
Subject: RFI Cook Strait ferry, NZ
From: Sav Saville <>
Date: Sat, 25 Jun 2005 13:56:27 +1200
Hi all,
The Cook Strait ferry is indeed a great pelagic birding opportunity. It is quite possible to do the return trip in a day, and, as mentioned by Tom Wilson, the "slow" ferry is by far the best for birding. The high speed cat doesn't spend so much time in the open water and the viewing facilities are not so good.
As for the best time of year - well there really isn't one - different times of year bring different birds, but any time is good. The winter has more Albatrosses and certainly Cape Petrel, the summer more Shearwaters, Fairy Prion etc though beware of the unusual flat calm day when you are likely to see nothing at all!! Probably the best times are in spring and autumn when there is a mixture of summer and winter species. I have seen up to a thousand Alberts in a single crossing in October.
Regardless of Tom's posting, and several other reports in print and websites, one has virtually nil chance of seeing King Shag from the ferry - it certainly does not allow even distant views of the breeding sites and I know of no NZ birders who have claimed this species from the ferry (I have personally made the journey scores of times).
The list of possibilities is more or less endless, but I would urge caution unless you are a very experienced observer - Hutton's do look like Flutterers, Westland Black does look like White-chinned Petrel and not every spec of an Albatross is identifiable at long range from a rolling ferry.
Good luck John, and I for one would love to hear what you turn up.
Sav Saville
Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ
23 Duke St
New Zealand
+64 6 323 1441
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