All 70 chicks which were transerred to Motuora on 12th March are still doing well.
Pycroft’s Petrel Chick being fed.
About 18 of them have been out of their burrows at night getting to know their new home. This is natural behaviour in preparation for fledging and heading off to sea.
Last month I was lucky enough to join the Pycroft’s petrel recce trip to Red Mercury Island. Red Mercury is the second largest of the seven Mercury islands and home to the largest colonies of Pycroft’s petrels.
Later this month we are hoping to translocate 70 Pycroft’s petrels into artificial burrows on Motuora Island where they will be fed for up to 4 weeks before they fledge. So the point of our trip was to suss out how many and which chicks would be ready to be translocated.
A team of 6 of us were dropped ashore on Red Mercury and after managing to scramble all our gear ashore over slippery boulders we set up camp for the week.
We spent the next 6 days checking burrow after burrow. The grey faced petrels and fluttering shearwaters which also breed on the island had already fledged so the only occupied burrows had Pycroft’s petrels in them. If a chick was found we extracted it from the burrow, and measured its wing length which is used as an age indicator. During our time on the island we checked over 2000 burrows and found 210 that were occupied. 30 had just adults and 180 held chicks.
Each night the island came alive with pycroft’s petrels calling and dropping from the sky through the trees. We saw and heard a number of little spotted kiwi and were also lucky enough to see the Mercury Island’s tusked weta.
Thanks to our awesome team! Also a big thank you to John and Kay for organising the trip and to Colin for transporting our gear to and from Whitianga. Good luck to the collection team heading back out to Red Mercury tomorrow!
Su, me, Vince, Colin, Kay, John, Dylan
The pohutakawas were in full bloom during the festive season on Motuora Island. The campground filled up with happy campers enjoying the sunshine and the calm boating weather.
On new years eve we got together with all the campers for a huge pot luck dinner in the middle of the campground. The feast was enjoyed while watching the last beautiful sunset of the year from Home Bay. After dinner the guitars came out and some very talented campers provided great entertainment into the night.
We have been keeping a close eye on the gannet chick during the past few weeks. It has grown quite a bit and seems to be strong and healthy. Unfortunately the second egg at the site was abandoned before it hatched. We have observed a number of other adult gannets pairing up which could be a good sign for next years breeding season!
Happy New Year from Sian and Toby
On checking the gannet site this morning we were delighted to discover that one of the two eggs at the site had hatched and a gannet chick was safely tucked under one of its parents.
Newly hatched gannet chick on Motuora
We were also lucky enough to witness the parent gannet feeding the chick and at this stage the chick appears to be doing well. The enthusiastic parent was vigorously encouraging the chick to feed but was probably a little over enthusiastic in regurgitating a piece of squid about the same size as the chick! A small video clip of the parent gannet feeding the chick can be seen at http://youtu.be/jTpMFz8SC_U .
We will keep you posted on the development of this first chick and any news on the hopeful arrival of Motuora’s second gannet chick soon!
Sian and Toby
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.
A pair of gannets displaying courtship behaviour
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.
Gannet on egg
Gannet on egg