By Dave Houston
For 5 years Kenny Dix was DOC’s ranger in New Zealand’s most remote community – Pitt Island. Situated 25km south of Chatham Island, the 6,000 ha Pitt Island is home to around 30 people – and one pair of Antipodean wandering albatross.
Now working on the “big smoke” of Chatham Island, Kenny recently took the opportunity to return to Pitt to band the wandering albatross chick atop Hakepa, one of the islands high points. This is the sixth Antipodean wandering albatross chick to be raised on Pitt Island and the fouth for the Hapeka pair. Taking almost a full year to raise, this chick will hopefully fledge in January and commence wandering the Southern Ocean. It may be up to 10 years before the chick settles down and breeds for the first time.
As the name suggests, the primary home of the Antipodean wandering albatross are the Antipodes Islands, some 700km to the south. Having visited the Antipodes myself, I can see why Hakepa’s windswept plateau, tussock and fern vegetation and magnificent views seem like home to the albatross.
Another pair of albatross at the Southern end of Pitt produced a chick two years ago, however failed to return this year to breed. We’re hoping that they might show up next year so than Kenny can keep up his banding skills.