Con­cern for pen­guin num­bers

The Invercargill Eye - - FRONT PAGE - JENNY CAMPBELL

The de­clin­ing pop­u­la­tion of yel­low-eyed pen­guins at Southland For­est and Bird’s Te Rere Pri­vate Sci­en­tific Re­serve in the Catlins con­tin­ues to con­cern volunteers who have been pro­vid­ing na­tive plant­ings for nest­ing shel­ter for the birds, and preda­tor con­trol, for over 25 years.

The an­nual count, un­der­taken last Satur­day by two groups of five com­mit­ted F&B mem­bers, found 31 adults com­pared with 37 last year, and down from 49 the pre­vi­ous year.

Two reg­u­lar sites are used to count the pen­guins re­turn­ing to their nests in the un­der­growth, bring­ing back food gath­ered at sea for the chicks.

‘‘The adult bird pairs share du­ties, tak­ing turns to go out to sea for food,’’ Southland F&Bird yel­low-eyed pen­guin ad­vi­sory group mem­ber Brian Rance said.

‘‘The num­ber of adult birds com­ing in or leav­ing after a changeover of du­ties dur­ing the day are taken as the best es­ti­mate of the adult num­bers at the site.’’

The num­bers have var­ied from 46 to 66 over the last eight years, down from the highs of over 70 adults which had shown re­cov­ery after the dis­as­trous 1995 fire.

Only 10 nests have been found so far this year, down from 14 last year. ‘‘The adult birds and chicks ob­served on the count day gener- ally ap­peared in good con­di­tion.

‘‘I checked the trap lines and found one dead stoat and three rats, so we need to keep up this reg­u­lar pest con­trol.’’

An­other group is go­ing in this week­end to put in more traps. ‘‘The big un­known is at sea, with pre­da­tion and warmer tem­per­a­tures af­fect­ing ... pen­guin num­bers, but we hope this spe­cial breed­ing colony can sup­port more of these unique birds.

‘‘This year pen­guin num­bers, based on the nest search in­for­ma­tion, are not ex­pected to rise be­cause of all the chal­lenges the birds have to cope with. After a poor sea­son last year, it is hoped the chicks found there this sea­son will be able to fledge, and then come back to this site to nest them­selves after about three years, so help­ing to in­crease num­bers,’’ he said.

‘‘One group of counters could not ac­cess the bird hide, as a pair of pen­guins had taken up res­i­dence and were rais­ing two healthy chicks in it, which is very en­ter­pris­ing. ‘‘

JENNY CAMPBELL

‘‘The adult birds and chicks ob­served on the count day gen­er­ally ap­peared in good con­di­tion.’’ Brian Rance This adult yel­low-eyed pen­guin and chick seemed un­per­turbed by hu­man in­tru­sion at Te Rere Pri­vate Sci­en­tific Re­serve in the Catlins.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.