Abby McBride

Quick Stop at the Petrel Station

I drove through Punakaiki recently. Once a year this west coast town holds a festival to welcome the Westland petrel back home to New Zealand after its annual sojourn to South American waters. Amid a weekend of music and revelry, ...

World Seabird Twitter Conference

The fourth annual World Seabird Twitter Conference took place over this past week, with seabird researchers all over the globe chiming in around the clock for three days straight. You don’t need a Twitter account to peruse the presentations: #...

Seabird Riches on the Poor Knights Islands

In the far north of New Zealand lie the rugged Poor Knights Islands, off-limits to terrestrial tourism, but surrounded by a stunning marine reserve containing one of Jacques Cousteau’s top ten dive sites. Why are these prismatic waters so ...

Ghostbusting the “Extinct” New Zealand Storm Petrel

It’s well past midnight on Little Barrier Island, called Hauturu in Māori—”resting place of the wind.” Six of us have been lying on our backs in the wet grass since nightfall, squinting through the spatter of raindrops ...

Finding the World’s Most Endangered Gull

When I set out to find a nesting colony of the most endangered gull in the world, I fully expected to fail. Not that it should be hard to find if you’re in the right place, and I was—...

Just a Seagull? Nope

There's no such thing as a seagull, according to certain pedants. How can that be? Because it's a gull—actually, one of about fifty gull species living in habitats all over the world, oceanic and otherwise. They range from the ...

Cliffhanger! Risking Life and Limb for Fluffy Seabirds

 Supposedly I didn’t show any fear during my first abseil, down a 70-meter seacliff south of Dunedin, New Zealand. Thank you, poker face. But in truth, it was amazement more than fear that I felt while hanging vertiginously over ...

Return of the Penguins

This is Part Four of “Voyage of the Yellow-eyed Penguin” (See Part One, Part Two, Part Three) Last explorations of Eden 14 November 2017 Waterfall Inlet and Lake Hinemoa Today started out pretty OK. Just another morning in the subantarctic, in an ...

Thrills, Spills, and Seabirds in the Subantarctic

This is Part Three of “Voyage of the Yellow-eyed Penguin” (See Part One, Part Two, Part Four) Endangered (by) Sea Lions Alternate title: Mom, Don’t Read This One 11 November 2017 Chambres Inlet Imagine you’ve sailed 300 miles south of New ...

Penguins Wanted

This is Part Two of “Voyage of the Yellow-eyed Penguin” (See Part One, Part Three, Part Four) The Search 8 November 2017 Port Ross and Enderby Island It was cold and clear and very dark when six hardy souls climbed over the ...

Voyage of the Yellow-eyed Penguin

The latest numbers say that yellow-eyed penguins are still heading toward extinction on mainland New Zealand. Their only other breeding habitat is a handful of islands hundreds of miles to the south. In this four-part story I join a surreal ...

A Krill’s-Eye Video of New Zealand Seabirds

Music video or science documentary? This is both! We took a GoPro-rigged buoy out into New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf, where multitudes of hungry seabirds were tracking swarms of fish and krill just below the surface of the sea. Featuring ...

How to Seabird in the Dark

I’m on a clifftop in the dark, on a remote island in New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf. An inky sea lies below, unfamiliar constellations glitter above, and a bird has just flown straight into my hand. Other pale squeaking ...