Southern Royal Albatross

On Campbell Island in the New Zealand Sub-Antarctic, a hike across the island brings you to the landing and breeding area. In the morning, female albatross can be seen spread across the hillsides, sitting quietly in the long grass. In the afternoon, the whole scene is transformed as male albatross fly in and begin a ritual called gaming. Gaming involves advertising for a partner by showing off your flying and smooching skills. It begins with elaborate aerial displays, swooping low and calling to albatross on the ground. Lying in the grass, photographing the albatross swooping and circling above me was exhilarating. When they landed they formed groups and began bill clapping, wing stretching and head shaking. Once an interested female is located, there is what can only be described as albatross kissing and cuddling.

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