Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 


“Extinct” seabird discovered breeding 50 km from Auckland

“Extinct” seabird discovered breeding 50 km from Auckland City

Researchers are elated to find the sparrow-sized New Zealand storm petrel, thought extinct until 2003, is breeding on Little Barrier Island Hauturu in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. The team of researchers is led by Chris Gaskin and Dr. Matt Rayner from the University of Auckland.


Bird in the hand, Dr Steffi Ismar holds the first NZ storm petrel captured on land, 22 Feb 2013. Photo Martin Berg


The seabird is listed as critically endangered by the International Union of the Conservation of Nature and finding the breeding site is vital for their conservation.

Three specimens of the diminutive 35g seabirds were collected off New Zealand in the 1800s and are held by museums overseas. Since its rediscovery, there has been speculation as to where this seabird breeds.

The team camped on the Poor Knights Islands, Mokohinau Islands and Little Barrier Island using radio receivers to zero in on the breeding site.

“It’s like looking for a needle in the haystack,” said Chris Gaskin. A critical breakthrough came last year when the project team found brood (incubation) patches on birds caught at sea. This determined the timing of incubation in New Zealand storm petrel, the best time to find breeding birds on land.

This year, 24 birds were caught at sea using specially designed net guns and small 1g radio transmitters were fitted to each bird. Automated receivers narrowed down the search. Team members, based at a remote camp on the north coast of the Little Barrier Island, using handheld receivers and spotlights, confirmed that birds were coming ashore under the cover of darkness and moving inland. This prompted moving the search area. Then, when a signal was picked up of a bird stationary in forest at night, team members were able to get a clear fix on where that site was.

Dr. Rayner says: “The site being monitored is very fragile and with birds at a delicate stage in their breeding cycle. We are using automated equipment for the most part and maintaining a hands-off approach, although team members visiting the vicinity have also been keeping watch.”

“On Friday morning a bird was discovered on the ground, possibly having just left its burrow. At the same time team members detected another bird, this one most probably on a nest,” said Chris Gaskin. “It’s an amazing result for our enthusiastic and dedicated team.”

Members of the research team will remain on the island over the coming weeks. Aerial surveys are also being used to try and establish the distribution and size of the population.

The Hauraki Gulf Forum is about to publish a Hauraki Gulf seabird management strategy and research plan drawing on the work of Chris Gaskin and Dr. Rayner and New Zealand and international collaborators.

Chair of the Hauraki Gulf Forum, John Tregidga, said locating the breeding ground was internationally significant and further highlighted the importance of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park as a globally significant biodiversity hotspot.

Dr Rayner, a Little Barrier Island trustee, said the discovery reiterated the importance of careful management of conservation jewels, such as Little Barrier Island and surrounding marine environments.

The project has been funded this year by grants from Mohammed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, Birdlife International Community Conservation Fund, The Little Barrier Island Hauturu Supporters Trust and ASB Trust, Auckland Council, Forest & Bird Central Auckland Branch and Peter Harrison/Zegrahm Expeditions, with further support from the Department of Conservation, Hauraki Gulf Forum and Landcare Research.


NZ Storm Petrel Photo credit Neil Fitzgerald Photography

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Snowden Documents: Show New Zealand Spies On Its Pacific Friends And Sends Data To US

NZ Herald link: New Zealand's spies are targeting the entire email, phone and social media communications of the country's closest, friendliest and most vulnerable neighbours, according to documents supplied by United States fugitive and whistleblower Edward Snowden. More>>

ALSO:

Green Call For PM To Come Clean Spying

“Rather than calling the whistle-blowers names, John Key must answer: Have our intelligence agencies been collecting details about phone and internet conversations in the Pacific and passing this information to the Americans? If so, why? And crucially, have New Zealand residents been spied on too; if so, what’s he going to do about it?" More>>

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

Teina Pora Wins Appeal: Gordon Campbell On The Privy Council Decision

The quashing of the convictions of Teina Pora for the rape and murder of Susan Burdett in 1992 has shone a spotlight once again on a major gap in the New Zealand justice system... More>>

ALSO:

Urgent Bill Planned: MP Pay Rises To Match Public Service

Prime Minister John Key today announced an overhaul of the Remuneration Authority Act, tying MP salaries to those of the wider public sector, which will be passed under urgency. More>>

ALSO:

PM's Press Conference: MP Pay Rises, Solid Energy, Iraq

Prime Minister John Key answered questions in his Post-Cabinet press conference about the Iraq deployment, Solid Energy and National’s decision to overhaul the Remuneration Authority Act. More>>

ALSO:

Worksafe: MSD Charged Over Work And Income Ashburton Shooting

WorkSafe NZ has laid one charge against the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) in relation to the shooting at the MSD Ashburton office on 1 September 2014 in which two Work and Income staff were killed and another was injured. More>>

ALSO:

Iraq: Ex-Hostage Says Government Not Putting NZers, Iraqis First

Harmeet Singh Sooden is travelling to Iraq in the coming weeks to work with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) on a short-term assignment. More>>

ALSO:

Joint Statement: Australia-New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting

Prime Minister Key warmly welcomed Prime Minister Abbott and Mrs Abbott to New Zealand. The visit has enabled wide-ranging and substantive discussion that has underlined the strength, value, diversity and warmth of our trans-Tasman relationship. More>>

ALSO:

Press Conference: Peters To Stand In Northland By-Election

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters has announced his intention to stand in the Northland by-election, citing his own links to the electorate and ongoing neglect of the region by central government. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Regional
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news