Questioning Happy Feet, unhappy ending?

You’re out walking through forest or along a beach. You find an injured bird. Maybe you find many, maybe thousands, like residents of the Kapiti Coast did recently when a southerly storm delivered a “prion wreck” to our shores. What should you do?

The prion-wreck last month was a natural event. Prion-wrecks occur every 10-30 years or so, although this was a big one. Most were broad-billed prions and New Zealand is home to more than a million of them. They are also common in Argentina, Australia, Falkland Islands, Peru, South Africa and many of the islands in between.

Emperor penguins, like Happy Feet who recently stole our hearts and “swallowed” our cash, are also remarkably common in the wild with an enormous range across Antarctica. These species are not rare, vulnerable or endangered. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists them as of ‘least concern’.

Full story on stuff.co.nz

Related story: Happy Feet’s priceless publicity

New Zealand seeking a world heritage night sky reserve for Tekapo Aoraki-Mt Cook.

2010 – pivotal in seeking to secure world night sky reserve for New Zealand
Next year is pivotal to the success of New Zealand seeking a world heritage night sky reserve for Tekapo Aoraki-Mt Cook

A UNESCO World Heritage meeting in Brasilia in June will be crucial to New Zealand’s chances, leader of the Working party bid former Cabinet minister Margaret Austin says.

“We are launching a nationwide campaign in the lead up to the Brasilia conference next year, so we can tell the public people this project has real and exciting potential particularly in the lead up to the Brasilia conference.’’

Austin says there has been a reluctance to acknowledge that the stars and starlight are significant to human heritage under UNESCO conventions.  But there is a groundswell of public concern at the extent to which people no longer see the stars in so many parts of the world and we need a source of income to achieve our goal of world heritage and international support.

The key milestone this year was getting the Tekapo Aoraki/Mt Cook starlight reserve working party up and running so the bid could demonstrate their commitment to the project. With the backing of the Mackenzie District Council there is a belief that astro-tourism, education and awareness of the significance of the dark sky and appreciation of the cultural history for Maori can be realised in the next few years.

full media release on scoop.co.nz

Kiwi discovered in outer space

Media release from Mt John Observatory, Lake Tekapo
28 September 2009

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An astrophotographer has discovered a kiwi in outer space from New Zealand’s internationally renowned Mt John Observatory.

It may be 26,000 light years away but a high powered astro-photograph has picked up the distinct image of New Zealand’s national icon in the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy.

The incredible image of the flightless bird was captured by experienced photographer Fraser Gunn. Mr Gunn, who has recently begun astrophotography with Earth and Sky Stargazing Tours at Lake Tekapo’s Mt John Observatory, is delighted with the discovery.

“When looking at the area with the naked eye it’s difficult to locate the kiwi but my camera allows greater light and colour into the image giving it more definition.

“We only started the astrophotography tour six weeks ago to complement our stargazing tours and the response so far has been outstanding. Basically, I provide instruction to anyone with a SLR-type camera so they obtain their own starlight pictures,” he says.

Graeme Murray, director of Earth and Sky Tours, says Fraser has become a leader in New Zealand astrophotography and is fast gaining international acclaim.

Full media realease on Scoop: Kiwi discovered in outer space

$35m plan to rid island of rats and feral cats

$35m plan to rid island of rats and feral cats – 11 Mar 2008 – NZ Herald: New Zealand and International environment and global warming news
Peter Jean Caley

oil painting of South island Tomtit by Peter Jean Caley

Stewart Island interests are considering an ambitious $35 million proposal to eradicate rats, wild cats and possums from the island.

The proposal has initial support from parts of the community but is likely to be vehemently opposed by deer hunters. It includes a predator fence around the settlement of Oban and plans for widespread aerial poison drops.

Described as New Zealand’s biggest conservation project, it aims to “make Stewart Island the Galapagos of the South”.

Copies of the proposal have been given to community groups and key “stakeholders” before a public meeting on April 3.

The “draft feasibility study” has been prepared by the Stewart Island/Rakiura Community and Environment Trust, with support from the Department of Conservation and the Tindall Foundation.

Proposed “border control” measures could include teams of rodent-checking dogs monitoring departures from Bluff and Invercargill and arrivals on the island.

It is hoped bird species such as kakapo, saddleback, mohua, kokako and teal may eventually be reintroduced to Stewart Island.

full story

update: tv3 video of the same story

‘Extinct’ sea bird once again caught

Scoop: ‘Extinct’ sea bird once again caught

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‘Extinct’ sea bird once again caught in the Hauraki Gulf

The once presumed extinct New Zealand storm petrel has again been recently captured in the Hauraki Gulf but its breeding site remains a mystery.

A team including Department of Conservation staff and scientists, funded jointly by DOC and a grant from National Geographic’s Committee for Research and Exploration, caught three birds during October and early November this year. This brings the tally to seven birds captured since the petrel was rediscovered by Dr Stephenson and Sav Saville of the coast of Whitianga in January 2003.

Ornithologist Dr Stephenson, who snared two birds with one shot using a custom-made net gun, said the moment was unforgettable.

“It’s not everyday you get to hold a seabird that for 150 years was thought to be extinct, let alone hold two.”

None of the captured birds showed signs of breeding, so the birds were released without attaching transmitters, said Dr Stephenson. The transmitters are used to track the birds with the aim of discovering which island they are breeding on.

full media release

New reserve opens at Catlins

TV3 > Video – Browse All > Weather/Environment Video

The country’s newest public reserve has opened on the Catlins coast, to provide a safe haven for the endangered Yellow-eyed penguin.

The Department of Conservation has teamed up with a community trust to create a long strip of protected coastline, about two hours south of Dunedin.
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This remote area on the Catlins coast is one of the main habitats of the Yellow-eyed penguin.

And now DOC – together with the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust – have bought 50 hectares of coastal farmland, effectively creating a 12 kilometre reserve along the Southern Ocean.

New Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick planted a Rata tree to celebrate the occasion.

It is expected to be the first of many planted here as part of a reforestation project, to help the penguins feel more at home.

“Until we put vegetation around these sorts of coastal margins that encourages them to come in and breed, we’re at peril of losing more and more of them,” Chadwick says.

This 12 kilometre stretch of coastline is home to around 50 breeding pairs, that’s 10percent of the Yellow-eyed penguin population in the South Island.

The penguins have coped relatively well in the isolated area, but plans to add fences and undertake predator control work will help improve their chances or survival.

Sea birds could also be reintroduced into the country’s newest public reserve, which DOC describes as a good investment for generations of New Zealanders.

Vodafone gets in behind the Yellow-eyed Penguins

Scoop: Vodafone gets in behind the Yellow-eyed Penguins

Vodafone and Run The Red are excited to announce Donatelive! a new service which is the first of its kind in New Zealand. The service enables customers with Vodafone live! capable handsets to donate to the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust.

Users can donate $3, $5 or $9 and in return will receive multimedia content downloaded directly to their phone. Content includes Yellow-eyed penguin ringtones, screensavers and videos. Vodafone will pass on 100% of the donation to the charity.

Customers can also see information on Vodafone live! about the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust and the work they are doing to save one of our national treasures.

This new initiative is launching to the public on October 11 in conjunction with the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust’s 20th Anniversary. The service has been created by the 2007 Graduates as part of the Vodafone Graduate Programme and will be available for an initial three month period. full press release

New Zealand albatross making massive flights

New Zealand albatross making massive flights – New Zealand news on Stuff.co.nz
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Three New Zealand birds are enjoying their big OE and are not expected back for years.

The three northern royal albatross are being monitored as part of a Massey University PhD student’s research into their behaviour.

Conservation Minister Chris Carter said a chick he named Toroa at a special ceremony earlier this year was now 550km off the coast of New Zealand and heading east into the Pacific Ocean.

Toroa and the other two young albatross were fitted with lightweight transmitters which track their position by satellite every six hours.

PhD student Bindi Thomas would look into the first year of the birds’ lives – they are expected to spend up to seven years at sea.

“This research will give us important information on what is one of the most solitary and amazing journeys in the animal kingdom,” Mr Carter said.

“Hopefully, all three young birds will eventually return to Taiaroa Head after their years of wandering and successfully raise their own chicks.”

Toroa flew up the coast of New Zealand as far as Oamaru before heading east into the Pacific. Toroa, who fledged late last month, got a head start on the other two birds and has flown 700km so far.

Mainland — 18 Years of Supporting Penguins

Scoop: Mainland — 18 Years of Supporting Penguins

click on image for mainland

The Commitment:
Mainland has been a major sponsor of the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust since 1989. The association has become far more than just another sponsorship arrangement and is thought to be one of the longest standing relationships between a corporate and a wildlife organisation anywhere in the world, making it very unique.

In addition to the huge financial contributions, Mainland has invested a substantial amount of resource into raising the profile of the Trust and the plight of the yellow-eyed penguin. Mainland devoted significant resource in television commercials featuring Roy – an icon synonymous with Mainland in the 80s and early 90s – and a yellow-eyed penguin, demonstrating Mainland’s further commitment to the cause. full media release

yellow-eyed penguin.org.nz/

New Zealand Ecological Society Annual Conference 2007

NZES Annual Conference 2007

Conference Logo

click on image for the link

The 2007 conference of the New Zealand Ecological Society is set for 18–23 November, in Christchurch. The venue will be the Central lecture block at the Ilam campus of the University of Canterbury.

The conference features a major symposium titled “Feathers to Fur: the ecological transformation of Aotearoa”. This is an update of 21 years of progress on the topics that make New Zealand unique, following on from the 1986 conference “Moas, Mammals and Climate” which was published in a special issue of New Zealand Journal of Ecology in 1989.

The conference logo symbolises this transformation with a Maori cave drawing of a “bird-man” from Frenchmans Gully (used by permission of Te Runanga o Waihao and Arowhenua and the Ngai Tahu Rock Art Trust).

There will also be several other symposia and the usual interesting range of contributed talks and posters.

bar-tailed godwits , To Alaska and back

A record-breaking godwit known as E7 is refuelling in the Firth of
Thames after having made it all the way to Alaska and back wearing a
surgically implanted satellite transmitter.

The female bird was
the first of 16 bar-tailed godwits tagged in February by ecologist Dr
Phil Battley, from Massey University, to return to New Zealand.

Data provided by the transmitter meant that Dr Battley could confirm her
route, with her entire migratory journey clocking in at close to 30,000
km, and the southern return leg at more than 11,500km.

full story

Honda Tree Fund Community Planting Day

Greater Wellington – Mauriceville community planting day

Mauriceville village will be further enhanced next month with the planting of native trees and shrubs during a HondaTree Fund Community Planting Day. The HondaTree Fund has provided the funding to purchase 300 trees and shrubs for this year’s event along with mulch and fertiliser.

The event has been organised to infill the areas planted during last year’s inaugural community planting day when 1000 native trees and shrubs were planted. more

Organic Bees Surviving Colony Collapse Disorder

Organic Bees Surviving Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) » Celsias

I know this won’t come as a surprise to many of our readers, nor to the many organic beekeepers that have been commenting on our posts, but there have been several reports of organic bee colonies surviving where the ‘industrial’ bee colonies are collapsing. Here is the latest to come to my attention: more

Matiu/Somes Island a resort for ‘lounge lizards’

Scoop: Matiu/Somes Island a resort for ‘lounge lizards’

Reptiles being rescued from the perils of city life to enjoy the tranquillity of Matiu/Somes Island are to be outfitted in the style of lounge lizards sporting “ipods”.

Green geckos rescued from the clutches of urban cats or raised in captivity, will be fitted out with tiny green “lounging” jackets before starting a new life on the Department of Conservation-managed sanctuary in Wellington Harbour later this year. It’s not about protecting them from Wellington’s notorious winds, or creating a reptilian fashion statement.

more

Skink discovery excites scientists

Skink discovery excites scientists – New Zealand news on Stuff.co.nz

Hollywood has its dinosaur-infested lost islands, now one of New Zealand’s last unspoilt wildernesses can boast a few reptilian surprises of its own.

The Sinbad Valley, tucked away in a corner of Fiordland, has revealed a range of weird and wonderful new species over the years, including wetas and other insects.

But now a handful of never before seen lizards – distant relatives of dinosaurs – have set scientists’ pulses racing.

“It was a funny-looking bugger, with huge eyes and big feet. I knew it was something not known to science.”

photograph by rod morris

his amazing collection

Amusing End To Another Successful Kiwi Season

Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua has celebrated the end of another hugely successful Kiwi season. Over the course of the 2006/07 season, 112 kiwi eggs were successfully hatched and a further 18 chicks brought in to Kiwi Encounter from the wild, leaving the operation on track to release over 120 kiwis back into their natural environment .

The last two eggs expected in from the wild were due to arrive before Easter after Tongariro DOC workers monitored a bird sitting on eggs for just over 60 days. However, they received an unusual surprise when they went in to make the collection – they discovered a wine bottle, not an egg! The male kiwi (who was hatched and raised at Kiwi Encounter) had ‘’incubated” the wine bottle for 63 days! more