An Albatross experience, from the comfort of your own home

Most of us are restricted from travel at the moment, especially internationally, so a lot of our adventures have been put on hold. Because of that, Animal Friendly Life wanted to feature an animal adventure that you can take from your own home! Now showing on an internet near you is the current season of the world’s favourite soap opera ‘The Beaked And The Beautiful’.

“Beaked” is set at the Royal Albatross Centre on the Taiaroa Headland at Dunedin among the coastline of the Otago Peninsula, on the South Island of New Zealand.

It’s the world’s only mainland Royal Albatross colony.

There, the life of an albatross chick and its family are chronicled via web cam, or as “Beaked” fans call it – “RoyalCam”.  The baby albatross is usually referred to as the “RoyalCam Chick” or a number of other names until an official naming competition a few months after hatching.

Northern Royal Albatross (credit – Albatross Centre)

This year’s season of “Beaked” is set on the Top Flat Track and stars OGK (banded Orange, Green, Black) a 21-year-old male and YRK (banded Yellow, Red, Black) – a 25-year-old female. YRK laid the egg on 14 November 2019.

Testing has identified our #BeakedAndTheBeautiful star as a girl and she is bringing the cute to everyone’s day.   Her interactions with a bunny rabbit that keeps hopping by are priceless. You can find these clips on YouTube.

While we’re all nesting at home, we can keep up with our favourite nest dweller and her daily goings on through the wonders of “RoyalCam” on YouTube. The colony’s Facebook and Twitter accounts update regularly.

The highlight for this year has been the colony’s partnership with Cornell University which has improved the technology. New features include a trial of night vision and the ability to pan and zoom the camera at the ranger’s discretion.

When travel becomes a part of everyone’s life again, you can tour the colony.

First stop on the tour is a small talk by one of the guides or colony rangers about the history of Taiaroa Head and some of the colony’s celebrity birds including “Grandma”, “Buttons” and “Moana”, who was the first RoyalCam chick.

The tour structure through the observatory and war time bunkers allows you to be closely involved with the day to day life of the birds without causing them distress.

A system of one way glass in the observatory along with sound deadening measures in the building also helps to make your presence less obvious to the birds.

An Albatross chick (credit Albatross Centre)

When you do get the chance to take a tour, a pro tip is to take one of the longer tours which brings in some of Taiaroa’s war time history.  Depending on where the albatross pairs have made their nests for the season, the odds of seeing a couple of extra nests on these tours while not guaranteed, are generally good.

While on the Otago headland, take a look around the coast as it is not uncommon to see other sea creatures. Also the prevailing weather conditions can bring on some excellent opportunities for the albatross to take to the skies.

Photography, without flash, is encouraged.

When driving to the centre from Dunedin, make sure you check for roadworks before setting out and try to time your arrival for around 15 minutes before your scheduled tour.

Tours to the headland’s resident Blue Penguin colony can also be organised while you are at the centre.

Want to know more? Head to the following links for more wonderful Albatross experiences!

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