Seabird news

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.

Pycroft’s petrel chick at early stage
Pycroft’s petrel chick with feathers well developed

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.

July workday

A party of nine had a pleasant crossing and easy landing on Sunday morning. After the usual introductions and safety talk we split into work groups and made good progress with the tasks for the day.

Overhanging vegetation was removed from the rear of the shade house where the new cabins will be located.

This part of the shade house will be modified to locate the new cabins

Colin Cordes and his helpers removed the old weed mat from two shade houses and replaced it with new. This is part of the work needed to re-instate the nursery operation which we intend will commence when Vonny returns in September.

Karin stops off to admire the work as the team secure new weed mat

Other tasks included investigations into the sound system at the new site we are hoping diving petrels will adopt. After much tooing and froing it appears that the control box has a fault and that we need new speakers.

Kay Milton made a number of transect counts of birds as part of the fieldwork for a new national bird atlas of New Zealand while Chris Green continued his search for wētāpunga to collect DNA samples.

Sausage sizzle time

We finished the day with a few small tasks and then made a quick check of some penguin boxes. It’s great to see them back. There was also evidence of fluttering shearwaters attending some of their boxes, four gannets have taken up residence at their site near the north end and five NZ dotterel were present between Home and Macrocarpa Bays.

Fund raising for new accommodation under way

Work is well underway to purchase and install two new cabins which will provide dedicated overnight accommodation for our members and volunteers. The cabins will be located in the rear standing out area of the nursery which will be modified to suit.

New cabin

Funding for one of the cabins has been provided by a generous grant from the Becroft Foundation. We have also had a wonderful offer of dollar for dollar funding from one of our long-term members up to a total of $5,000. So if we can raise a matching amount that will be a total of $10,000 which will be enough to allow us to go ahead with the purchase.

Members and friends have received an e-mail appeal for donations but if you haven’t been contacted and would like to help please get in touch via

AGM Motuora Restoration Society


The Motuora Restoration Society’s Annual General Meeting 

will be held on Tuesday 28th May at 7:00 p.m. 

at the Old Library (formerly Red Cross Hall), Pioneer Village, Silverdale


1. Minutes of the 2018 AGM

2. Matters arising from the Minutes

3. Financial Report

4. Chairperson’s Annual Report

5. Election of Officers and Committee Members*

6. Subscriptions for the 2019/2020 year

7. Any other Business

*The officers of the Society comprise the Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson, Treasurer and Secretary, and the Constitution calls for at least two other committee members.  Nominations for all these positions will be accepted by mail, to be received by the Secretary at PO Box 100132 North Shore, North Shore City 0745, by Thursday 23 May 2019.  Nominations will also be accepted from the floor at the meeting.  All nominees, proposers and seconders must be financial members of the Society.