Cabins are now located where a shade house once stood and have been used extensively by visiting monitoring teams during the past months. These are basic but really snug with the convenience of solar-powered lights and charging points for phones. We had a builder erect a roof over the decked area between the pods to provide a dry place to drop wet or dirty gear and footwear. The next part of the project is to roof over each of the cabins which will protect them from harsh environment and extend the life of their construction. Rain water collection is also planned.
Pycroft’s petrel monitoring – 2021 breeding season
John Stewart reports the Pycroft’s petrel news from Motuora is pretty good. As of 4th January 2021 there were 16 pairs on eggs, with one new pair occupying a box but with no egg and two single birds in different boxes That’s up from 10 eggs/chicks last year. Unfortunately, Covid-19 related restrictions on Island visits in 2020 meant that last year chicks fledged without being banded so there will be some uncertainty about their return rate.
This year 15 Pycroft’s petrel chicks hatched and grew steadily. Monitoring teams made fortnightly trips to the island to check progress and on 10th March a small team made a brief visit to the Island to band the chicks. It went well and all chicks were banded. They were all looking good with just one chick noticeably smaller than the rest, but even that one was fine, just running a bit later than the others. Estimate is that all will fledge before the end of April.
Milestone for shore skink population Update from shore skink monitoring undertaken at the end of January
- Thirty-one shore skinks were caught in 2021, most of which are thought to be island-born (16 adults, 7 gravid females, 7 sub-adults and 1 neonate).
- This number exceeds the 24 individuals released in 2011 and therefore confirms the important milestone that the population is moving into Translocation Stage 3: ‘population growth as indicated by the capture of more animals than were originally released’. This is the first formal survey to exceed this threshold number of captures – although an informal winter check of refuges in July 2020 (after COVID-19 lockdown) also exceeded this threshold, observing 28 shore skinks. That similar counts of shore skinks were obtained in 2020 and 2021 provides additional confidence that this milestone has been met.
- The average weights of adults and gravid females were 4.4 g and 5.0 g, respectively; and both groups had an average snout-to-vent length of 60.1 mm. All shore skinks were in good condition.
- The shore skinks are expanding the area of dune that they inhabit. The population has expanded to the north and south of the original release site, and further inland than on any previous survey.
- The shore skinks continue to exist alongside copper and moko skinks. On the picture below copper (left top), moko (left bottom), and shore skinks (right). Twenty-four copper skinks and eight moko skinks were caught (or observed) and all were in good condition.
- Raukawa geckos were present in reasonable numbers at the release site, and we also detected an individual at Macrocarpa Bay indicating that they are dispersing.
- Pacific geckos are showing promising signs of establishment including multiple adults, island-born juveniles and sub-adults, and individuals were found north of the release site during spotlighting.