On observing the gannet site yesterday we discovered that there are now 17 gannets incubating eggs at the gannet site. With still more birds building nests we are looking forward to seeing plenty of gannet chicks hatching in the coming weeks and months!!
Moeo Finaunga (Massey University Albany, Ecology group) discovered an adult sized Wētāpunga on Motuora Island last week. Moeo spotted the large insect (7-8 cm body length) on a Manuka tree approx. 40 cm off the ground while carrying out a gecko night survey with her fellow Wildlife Management students. Mac Purvin, who witnessed the find, took photographic proof and helped to confirm the species and age of the animal.
Juvenile Wētāpunga were released on Motuora in September 2010 and December 2012 about 300 metres southwest of the gecko hunt site and have not been re-sighted since. According to Dr Chris Green from the Department of Conservation all individuals released three years ago were expected to have died by now, while those from last year should still be juveniles. However, this animal was too large to be a juvenile and could in fact be one of the originally released weta. Even though no geckos were spotted that night, this was a remarkable find and caused much excitement among the Island rangers and DOC staff. Adult Wētāpunga may live longer than expected.
Since the arrival of the 70 Pycroft’s petrel chicks three weeks ago efforts have been concentrated on feeding, measuring, and weighing the chicks in preperation for their fledging. Contractor Helen Gummer has been running this side of the translocation from the island, along with the help of volunteers.
So far 44 of the 70 chicks have fledged and all the remaining chicks have been out of their burrows at night.
In July 2010 a “fake colony” of gannet decoys backed up by an acoustic system playing gannet calls was installed at the northern end of Motuora Island. Real gannets have been attracted to the site since this time, but up until this year they had failed to nest at the site.
Since September this year a group of around nine gannets have been at the site continuously and signs of nesting were looking promising. With the observation of a pair of gannets mating at the site last month hopes for successful nesting were high. In the last couple of days we have been able to confirm that there are indeed two birds incubating eggs at the site! This is very exciting news for the project and bodes well for the establishment of a permanent gannet colony on Motuora.