Se­abirds recorded for sci­ence

Auckland City Harbour News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JAMES PASLEY

Across the Hau­raki Gulf record­ing de­vices are lis­ten­ing to New Zealand’s se­abirds.

Sound recorders known as Song Me­ter 3s are tap­ing se­abirds’ con­ver­sa­tions to cre­ate a map of birdlife and pop­u­la­tion lev­els on Auck­land’s east coast.

The Auck­land Coun­cil re­search is de­signed to pro­vide valu­able in­for­ma­tion about se­abirds like pe­trel, shear­wa­ters, shags and pen­guins, which spend some of their life feed­ing at sea.

Auck­land Coun­cil seabird ex­pert Todd Lan­ders said ef­forts had been ramped up to pro­tect at risk or threat­ened species.

The coun­cil’s re­search and eval­u­a­tion unit ( RIMU) knows when se­abirds tend to be vo­cal and they’ll be record­ing for up to a month at a time through­out the year.

When de­cid­ing where to place the de­vices they look for egg holes, bird poo or scratches on trees.

‘‘With the de­vices we can cover a lot more ar­eas that we would oth­er­wise be un­able to get to.’’

RIMU has al­ready suc­cess­fully cre­ated an au­dio model for the north­ern div­ing pe­trel us­ing record­ings from Burgess Is­land.

Now the coun­cil is work­ing on de­vel­op­ing mod­els for other se­abirds in the area.

‘‘Se­abirds are a chal­leng­ing group to man­age with their large oceanic dis­tri­bu­tions and re­mote breed­ing colonies, usu­ally on off­shore is­lands.

‘‘They have been his­tor­i­cally ne­glected in mon­i­tor­ing pro­grammes, how­ever this is chang­ing,’’ Lan­ders said.

North­ern New Zealand Seabird Trust’s project man­ager Chris Gaskin said he has been us­ing the acous­tic recorders on Lit­tle Bar­rier Is­land since 2009.

He said the fact they are au­to­mated is vi­tal be­cause he works on re­mote and rugged is­lands and he can’t be there all of the time.

‘‘We still don’t have a han­dle on what the pop­u­la­tions are and all the dif­fer­ent species. Once we have the in­for­ma­tion we’ll be able to es­tab­lish a much more ac­cu­rate es­ti­mate than we have now.’’

Gaskin was es­pe­cially in­ter­ested in mon­i­tor­ing se­abirds and the in­di­rect im­pact fish­ing was hav­ing on the birds through the loss of their food source.

In Oc­to­ber 2016 Statis­tics NZ and the Min­istry for the En­vi­ron­ment re­leased a re­port which found that 90 per cent of New Zealand’s se­abirds were at risk of ex­tinc­tion.

SUPPLIED

Auck­land Coun­cil seabird ex­pert Todd Lan­ders with a Black-winged pe­trel on Burgess Is­land.

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