Stratford Press

Project to improve seabird counting

- Alyssa Smith

Venture Taranaki recently announced six new projects through the Curious Minds initiative, funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). This week the Stratford Press is highlighti­ng the Nga¯ Motu Wha¯nui Manumoana and Mai te Awa ki te Moana projects.

New methods of monitoring seabird population­s on the Nga¯ Motu (Sugar Loaf) Islands will be discovered due to a new project.

Nga¯ Motu Wha¯nui Manumoana is one of six recently announced Curious Minds projects.

The Curious Minds initiative is led by Venture Taranaki and funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Nga¯ Motu Wha¯nui Manumoana is a collaborat­ion between the Taranaki Mounga Project, Te Papa Atawhai, Nga¯ Mahanga, Nga¯ti Ta¯iri, Te Kotahitang­a o Te Atiawa Trust, Te Kahui o Taranaki, Te Ara Taiao, and the Department of Conservati­on.

Taranaki Mounga project manager Sera Gibson says the motu is an important habitat for 19 species of seabird with around 10,000 birds thought to nest on the islands.

She says the new project is a flow-on from a previous one.

“For the previous project, we monitored the bird song on the islands and now we are moving on from that and counting the number of species of birds and the number of birds of each species.”

Sera says the birds have previously been counted manually which is challengin­g for the counters and disruptive to the birds.

“We will change the way we monitor them by using drones to count birds, including at night with thermal-imaging cameras.”

She says the aim is to get accurate counts of bird population­s with minimal human interactio­n.

A group of coastal Taranaki schools and hapu¯ are also involved. “They will be involved in the whole process, including the planning and the monitoring. It’s a cool educationa­l opportunit­y.”

Sera says as well as finding a better way to monitor the birds, the project will also help the Taranaki Mounga project benchmark its pest control efforts.

 ?? Photo/ Supplied ?? The Nga¯ Motu (Sugar Loaf) Islands.
Photo/ Supplied The Nga¯ Motu (Sugar Loaf) Islands.

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