Friday, April 9, 2010

Royal Northern Albatross & Pavlova

Albatross Life cycle

Northern Royal Albatross
It is hard to perceive from this picture but the wing span can be up to 3 metres (9'6") across. The albatross is capable of swooping speeds of more than 115kph (71mph)!

Taiaroa Head on the tip of the Otago Peninsula

Help! It's extremely windy out here!!

Spotted Shag Colony at Taiaroa Head out on the Otago Peninsula

Gregory and Emily Sutton

Gregory prepares to serve the Pavlova (New Zealand's National Dessert) that he so carefully garnished with kiwifruit and raspberries. See description of Pavlova below.
(Note: Gregory is wearing his new glow-in-the-dark "Footprints of New Zealand" t-shirt.)

"The pavlova is a crisp shell of meringue with a marshmallow centre smothered with whipped cream decorated with kiwifruit & strawberries."

Judy Sutton, granddaughter Emily Sutton and Gregory (We've kept Emily up past her bedtime on a school night to share dessert with us.)

On Monday, while Keith and Judy went off to work, we connected with family via Skype and then made our way out to the Royal Northern Albatross Colony at Taiaroa Head on the tip of the Otago Peninsula. It is the world’s only mainland breeding colony of the Royal Northern Albatross. These spectacular birds have a wingspan that exceeds three metres (9'6"), a recorded life span of 60+ years and reach flight speeds of over 115kph (71 mph)! We walked out past the car park to the cliffs of Taiaroa Head with hopes of seeing the albatross flying but since we didn’t see them 15 years ago we weren’t sure we’d seen them today. The wind was so forceful that it almost blew us over and my ears ached with the wind and cold. We walked along the railing with our eagle eyes open and saw a colony of spotted shags on the cliff but no albatross. Just when we thought we’d had enough wind and were headed back to the car Mike spotted an albatross flying overhead!! It wasn’t long before there was another and then another. After seeing about the fourth the wind picked up a dust cloud of sand and threw it in my eyes. As I was in the car getting eye drops Gregory and Mike saw 4 more! It was an exhilarating experience.

On the other side of the car park we were up close and personal with a seal that frolicked in the water and then came up on shore in front of us to sun himself! Everywhere we turn we have amazing animal experiences.

That evening we cooked tea for Judy and Keith and Gregory did an excellent job of decorating a Pavlova with fresh kiwifruit and raspberries. The Pavlova is New Zealand’s national dessert. It is a crisp shell of meringue with a marshmallow centre smothered with whipped cream on top and then decorated with kiwifruit and strawberries (in this case we used raspberries). We cheated a bit and bought the Pavlova in the bakery and then Judy whipped the cream and Gregory did the fruit. We decided it must be shared so we brought it over to Glenn and Julia’s and Gregory has some more play time with the girls.

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