Rare Hector’s dolphin seen in Wellington harbour

Press Release – Department of Conservation
A Hector’s dolphin – the world’s smallest and rarest marine dolphin – was spotted in Wellington harbour yesterday after last being seen in 2009.

The dolphin was sighted at Mahanga Bay yesterday afternoon by a member of the public, who reported the sighting to DOC today. They said that the dolphin had “spent about five minutes zooming under and around the boat (with the engine in neutral) before disappearing”. A spectator on shore reported seeing two dolphins, but only one animal was seen from the boat.

The first live record of a Hector’s dolphin in Wellington Harbour was in January 2009. Several sightings of the dolphin were made during the summer and autumn of 2009, with photo and video evidence taken, but there have been no further sightings in the harbour until now. There have been several sightings of possibly the same animal around the Kapiti coast last year.

full press release on scoop.co.nz

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

Hundreds of weary birds picked up

Kapiti SPCA has been inundated with more than 500 sub-Antarctic prion seabirds blown ashore by storms.

Shelter manager Peter McCallum said the influx of broad-billed prions began on Monday when residents brought a few stragglers in, but by Tuesday they were arriving in droves.

Yesterday about 400 exhausted prions, which are plankton eaters, were brought to the shelter and tube fed a mixture of cat food mixed with saline to rehydrate them.

A Fastway courier offered to transport the first batch to a Wellington bird rescue organisation yesterday and more will go to other organisations around the region in the next few days.

Some prions normally straggle up from the southern oceans as far as Cook Strait, but with the present strong winds they are being found exhausted lying in driveways and on properties up to four kilometres from the coast.

Most have been between Pukerua Bay and Peka Peka but some were as far north as New Plymouth.

“On shore they get disoriented and distressed. They do not cope very well being on land,” Mr McCallum said.

About 80 were delivered to the shelter on Tuesday, and about 400 yesterday.

The shelter’s two staff and about 15 volunteers had been flat out, he said. “It has taken us over at the moment, with our normal work as well.”

He praised residents for saving the birds. “The people of Kapiti have been amazing. They could have easily just left them. It has been lovely seeing them picking them up and bringing them in. At least we can do something for the ones brought in.”

He expected the exhausted birds to be fed and to recuperate for three to four days before a mass release when the winds eased.

The Conservation Department said storms around the lower North Island had blown sea birds inland to areas where they were not typically seen. Most were prions and petrels and were believed to be younger birds not used to navigating stronger winds.

 

original story on stuff.co.nz

Zealandia no sanctuary for kakariki

Rare kakariki have fallen prey to falcons at wildlife sanctuary Zealandia.

Conservation manager Raewyn Empson said staff believed there was just one pair of native falcons at the sanctuary, but they were believed to be responsible for attacks on two kakariki.

New Zealand falcons are rarer than kiwi, and can catch prey while flying – sometimes at speeds of up to 230kmh.

“They are our top predator so they will take various items of prey, primarily birds.”

Falcon pairs were absent from Wellington for decades, but their return has come at a cost. Two years ago four falcon chicks fledged at Zealandia, while last year one did.

Falcons found their way to the predator-proof sanctuary in 2009, when their successful breeding attempt made them the first pair to breed in Wellington since the 1970s.

However, juveniles are thought to stray far from their parents and were not thought to be responsible for bird deaths at the sanctuary.

Last year, a bellbird was killed at the sanctuary, and now two red crowned kakariki are thought to have suffered the same fate. “One got caught and taken away, we don’t know what happened. The other one, just a pile of feathers were found. Unfortunately no legs.”

The kakariki were likely to have been young birds, and others watching the events would have learnt valuable lessons, Ms Empson said.

“All it takes is a couple of instances and the rest think, ‘Oh, better watch out for that one’.”

Full story on Stuff.co.nz

Wingspan Birds of Prey Trust

http://www.nzfalcon.org.nz/

Emperor penguin visits the Kapiti Coast

Large version of photograph

Press Release: Department of Conservation

Kapiti Coast residents have been treated to a rare visit by an emperor penguin. There is only one other recording of an emperor penguin in New Zealand, at Southland’s Oreti Beach in the 1967.

The Department of Conservation advises that people should not disturb the penguin and ensure that dogs are kept on leads in the area. Penguins can give vicious bites if they feel threatened. If left alone it is expected that the bird will eventually swim back out to sea.

It is not known why these birds that reside in the Antarctic would visit New Zealand shores.

“It’s amazing to see one of these penguins on the Kapiti Coast,” said DOC biodiversity spokesperson Peter Simpson.

“Unusual animals from the Antarctic sometimes visit our shores, but we really don’t know why”,

Department of Conservation staff were first alerted by Kapiti resident Christine Wilton who was walking her dog on Monday afternoon at Peka Peka Beach.

“I saw this glistening white thing standing up and I thought I was seeing things,” Ms Wilton said.

She contacted DOC’s Waikanae office and rangers went to investigate. They saw what looked like a big white ball in the sand. It stood up, looking quite relaxed and in good condition. It was later confirmed that the majestic visitor is a juvenile emperor penguin standing at about 1 metre tall.

Emperor penguins are the largest penguins, adults reaching more than a metre tall and weighing up to 30kg. They feed on fish, krill, squid and a wide range of marine invertebrates and hold the diving record at 450 metres deep and 11 minutes underwater.

If members of the public see this emperor penguin at another beach or to report unusual or injured marine animals contact the DOC HOTline: 0800 362 468.
Visit www.doc.govt.nz for more information on penguins.

Story on Scoop.co.nz

Story and video on Stuff.co.nz

WHO’S A SQUAWKY BOY THEN

Kaka

Saved from the brink of extinction in Wellington, kaka could face a new threat from humans, with one city dweller threatening to kill them.

Zealandia conservation manager Raewyn Empson said a small number of people living near the Karori sanctuary had called with complaints about the rare parrots eating plums from their trees. One had called threatening to kill the endangered bird, which Ms Empson said was “very unwise”, given that they were strictly protected.

However, most who called to report kaka sightings were thrilled to see them. Ms Empson said Wellington was the only city with a breeding population. “All indications are that the kaka are here to stay.”

The birds tended to gather at dawn and squawk noisily, but Ms Empson said their song had not generated complaints – a far cry from 2008, when the sanctuary said people were ringing to complain about noisy tui, after an explosion in their numbers.

full story on stuff.co.nz

NewZealand birds . com Kaka

Baby Tuatara Hatches on Matiu/Somes Island

Thursday, 28 January 2010, 11:12 am
Press Release: Department of Conservation


A photograph taken of a baby tuatara on Wellington Harbour’s Matiu/Somes Island this month has confirmed for the first time that the rare reptiles are hatching on the island.

The juvenile, just a few months old and about 8cm long, was spotted by Harriot (8) and Nicholas Lane (10) and their cousin Harrison Vernon (11) while they were walking around the island with their grandparents Bob and Suzanne Vernon.

Tuatara were transferred to Matiu/Somes in 1998 and since then adult tuatara are regularly seen on the island. It has long been suspected that they are breeding, and this was finally proven when eggs were found on the island in 2007 and hatched at Victoria University.

But this is the first confirmation that young tuatara have hatched on the island itself.

full media release on scoop.co.nz

Top predator makes spectacular return to capitalHutt Vally

Scoop: Top predator makes spectacular return to capital
Fledgling NZ Falcon. Photo by Tom Lynch, ZEALANDIA/Karori Sanctuary Trust.
Photo by Tom Lynch, ZEALANDIA/Karori Sanctuary Trust.
Click to enlarge

Press Release: Zealandia

New Zealand’s top predator makes spectacular return to the capital

Conservation staff at the groundbreaking ZEALANDIA eco-sanctuary in Wellington believe they have found the first New Zealand falcons to have hatched in the city since the species disappeared as a breeding population in the Seventies.

“It’s an extremely significant discovery,” said ZEALANDIA conservation manager Raewyn Empson

“Although there are quite a few breeding pairs in the Hutt Vally and Eastbourne, they haven’t bred in Wellington city for decades! And they are hanging around right next to the main track, so it really is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see these powerful predators up close and in their element”

This time last year, ZEALANDIA staff found the capital’s first ever recorded nest, very close to where this year’s fledgings are hanging out. Unfortunately, the nest had been abandoned before any eggs were laid. A second nest, this time with eggs in it, was found in July – incredibly early for falcons – but that also failed.

full media realease on scoop.co.nz

First kaka chick of breeding season banded

First kaka chick of breeding season banded | Stuff.co.nz
kaka

ROBERT KITCHIN/ The Dominion Post

Just minutes out of the nest and the terrified chick found himself having two feathers pulled out, a microchip inserted and numerous measurements taken.

Yellow Mauve Lime, named after his leg band colours, was the first kaka chick of this year’s breeding season to be banded at Zealandia wildlife sanctuary in Karori on Thursday.

The 538-gram native was a “brave frontrunner” which underwent the experience calmly, Conservation officer Matu Booth said.

As Mr Booth inserted almost his whole arm into the heart of Yellow Mauve Lime’s nest, the mother bird and five other kaka squawked overhead but eventually calmed down.

The chick also settled down, and Mr Booth said banding kaka was much more enjoyable than banding other birds, partly because kaka chicks were relatively big and easier to handle.

Full story on stuff

NZ On Screen, The Nature Collection

nature-topper

NZ Nature on screen

To celebrate NZ’s unique natural taonga, Peter Hayden has curated a highlights collection from three decades of NHNZ productions. Aotearoa’s landforms and its magnificent menagerie of natural oddities – birds, insects, trees like nowhere else on the planet – are showcased in 15 award-winning titles. From Discovery Channel and David Bellamy, to Wild South and Our World classics.

Read More ›

http://www.nzonscreen.com/collection/nature

Native birds feel no fear when facing foes

Scoop: Native birds feel no fear when facing foes

Click to enlarge

Sarah Whitwell with the stuffed stoat and morepork she has been using to test fear responses of the North Island robin.


Endangered native birds are at risk of losing their instinct to recognise and flee mammalian enemies when moved between predator-free and predator-filled sites, says a Massey researcher.

Sarah Whitwell, a biology Masters student at Massey’s Institute of Natural Resources in Albany, designed an experiment using a pulley system to dangle a stuffed stoat and morepork at nesting North Island robins to test their fear responses. She says most robins in areas free of introduced predators such as stoats failed to get into a flap at the sight of an enemy, albeit a fake version.

Her research adds to growing evidence that native birds’ responses to mammalian predators are not genetically hard-wired.

“That’s because introduced mammal predators have been here a relatively short time, whereas native birds have been here for millions of years.”

She says already endangered native bird species would be at increased risk if moved back to wilderness sites with mammalian predators after inhabiting mammal-free conservation areas without some form of predator-recognition training.

The responses of robins in predator-controlled Wenderholm Reserve and Tiritiri Matangi Island near Auckland were compared with those in the central North Island, where the birds have long co-existed with native and introduced predators.

FULL PRESS REALEASE ON SCOOP

On the lookout for lizards

Scoop: On the lookout for lizards
Wellington green gecko, DOC
Click to enlarge

Conservation staff on the DOC Poneke area-managed Matiu/Somes Island in Wellington Harbour are preparing for an exciting arrival on Friday’s 10 am ferry sailing.

15 rare Wellington green geckos, seven of which have spent the last twelve months on ‘sabbatical’ at the city’s Karori Sanctuary, are being released on the island on Friday 15 November as part of an annual translocation programme – the largest to date.

DOC first began translocating green geckos to the island sanctuary in 2006 to create a self-sustaining population on this predator-free island. They have been working with local lizard breeders to ensure a genetically diverse supply of geckos for release on a yearly basis. This year, 16 lucky local school children with a special interest in conservation have been chosen to take part in the release.

‘Establishing a safe population on Matiu/Somes will help ensure survival’, said DOC biodiversity ranger Brent Tandy.

Local lizard enthusiasts and conservation projects like Karori Sanctuary play a critical support role for DOC’s gecko recovery programme in terms of both advocacy and breeding. One year old animals are taken to the Sanctuary for display in a special gecko enclosure before being released on the island at two years old.

full

First tuatara nest found in 200 years

First tuatara nest found in 200 years – 01 Nov 2008 – NZ Herald: New Zealand and International environment and global warming news
An adult male tuatara at Karori Sanctuary and (inset) the clutch of eggs - the first nest found on mainland NZ for 200 years. Photos / Supplied

The first confirmed tuatara nest in over 200 years on mainland New Zealand has been discovered at the Karori Sanctuary in Wellington.

Sanctuary staff uncovered the four ping-pong-ball-sized leathery white eggs yesterday during routine maintenance work near the sanctuary’s mammal-proof fence.

Raewyn Empson said that about this time last year staff had found a gravid (egg-carrying) female.

The eggs would have been laid almost exactly a year ago in a shallow trench dug by the female and then backfilled.

“We knew of two suspected nests but didn’t want to disturb them to confirm whether or not they contained eggs.”

The nest had been uncovered by accident and was the first concrete proof that the sanctuary’s tuatara were breeding.

Ms Empson suggested there might be other nests in the sanctuary.

The eggs had been immediately covered up again to avoid disturbing their incubation.

Although only four eggs were unearthed, it was likely that there were more in the nest as an average clutch contained around 10 eggs.

full story

Match-making on Mana Island

A blind date with one of six eligible bachelors awaits a young female takahe when she is released onto Mana Island today. The seven-month-old bird, named Moa, will be paired with a single male on the island in the hope that they’ll eventually breed.

Moa became sick early last week and was airlifted from her home at the Burwood takahe recovery unit near Te Anau to Massey’s wildlife ward. Lecturer in avian and wildlife health Kerri Morgan says she was near death’s door.

“She arrived exhibiting severe neurological symptoms and was very underweight. Tests showed a high level of the parasite coccidia in her system. We treated her for that and she’s recovered quickly.”

Ms Morgan says takahe don’t usually respond well to hospital treatment.

“They lose weight because they get stressed easily, but we gave Moa the penthouse suite in the ward and brought in native grasses for her to feed on, which she obviously appreciated.”

Department of Conservation staff will take Moa to Mana Island this morning, where she’ll be kept in isolation with her new mate.

The Department’s ranger on the island Sue Caldwell says the scientific reserve, off the coast of Porirua, is short of female takahe.

“It makes sense to bring her here. We’ll try and pair her with one of the six single males on the island. Males who aren’t paired cause trouble in the pre-breeding season that begins in late August, so hopefully we can get a fairytale ending here.”

Massey University – article

130 tuatara find sanctuary

https://i1.wp.com/static.zooomr.com/images/5617897_669614b40e.jpg
click on image for the dompost.co.nz video

larger lmage


One hundred and thirty tuatara have been freed into the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary in a continued effort to establish a mainland population.

A team of scientists spent five days on Stephens Island in the Marlborough Sounds last week catching the tuatara.

Conservation scientist Raewyn Empson said warm weather last week meant plenty of tuatara were out and about on the island and could be easily captured by hand.

Tuatara might appear docile, but they could deliver a nasty bite and they had sharp claws, she said.

With an estimated population of 50,000 tuatara on Stephens Island, plenty of the reptiles remained there. The new arrivals would triple the Wellington sanctuary’s population.

In December 2005, the sanctuary became home to 70 tuatara returning to mainland New Zealand for the first time in more than 200 years. Those animals are thriving and some are thought to have mated.

The new tuatara were also expected to do well. “There’s lots of food, and much less competition than on the island,” Ms Empson said.

After a welcome by members of the Ngati Koata iwi yesterday, the tuatara were freed deep in the sanctuary, away from prying eyes.

Fancy a dirty weekend in your own back yard?

Scoop: Fancy a dirty weekend in your own back yard?

Residents of Wellington and the Kapiti Coast are encouraged to have a Dirty weekend in their own back yard.

After a session clearing environmentally-damaging weeds from their garden, they will be rewarded with a replacement native plant at weed swaps at Wellington’s Waitangi Park from 10am to 2pm on October 13, and the Kapiti Uniting Parish at Raumati from 2pm to 5pm on October 14.

They are part of a national Weedbusters initiative to promote environmentally-friendly gardening by urging people to replace garden weeds with natives and so improve our natural environment, not just for people but also for our native insects, lizards and birds.    full press release

www.weedbusters.org.nz

Long Gully control programme to protect native birds and bush

Greater Wellington – Long Gully control programme to protect native birds and bush
Long Gully Map
Native birds and bush in Long Gully, near the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, will benefit from a possum and rat control operation which begins on Monday 8 October 2007. The operation is part of an ongoing programme to keep possum and rat numbers at low levels.

Long Gully is a strip of bush that includes some private land owners and Wellington Natural Heritage Trust land. It is situated between the suburbs of Karori and Brooklyn and is adjacent to the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. Control will be carried out in areas of bush and scrub.

“The programme will be of huge benefit to the native species in the area, as well as to neighbouring properties, creating a safe place for native birds to breed and enabling native trees to regenerate,” says Greater Wellington biosecurity officer Glen Falconer. here for full story

New homes lined up in bid to rescue rare kiwi

Dozens of rare West Coast kiwi may be moved away from their ancestral homes to islands in the Hauraki Gulf and Foveaux Strait in a desperate attempt to save the species from extinction.

The Department of Conservation says it has to create back-up populations, away from stoats, to avert extinction.

Although some Haast and Okarito Rowi kiwi chicks are already raised away from predators, they are returned to their home forest in South Westland when they are large enough to fight off stoats.

Under new proposals, DoC wants to move breeding pairs of Okarito birds to the sub-tropical Motuihe Island in the Hauraki Gulf, near Auckland, and up to 10 Haast birds to Rarotoka Island, in Foveaux Strait.

full story

Discover the hidden world of Wellington’s wild orchids

Discover the hidden world of Wellington’s wild orchids: media releases

Pterostylis banksii (common greenhood), one of our most common orchids. Photo: Jeremy Rolfe/DOC.
Pterostylis banksii, one of our most
common orchids

Wellingtonians are being asked to keep their eyes peeled for their extraordinary, diverse and often cryptic native orchids when they venture into the outdoors.

Acknowledging the Wellington region as one of New Zealand’s “orchid hotspots”, the Department of Conservation has produced a field guide identifying 72 species of wild orchids in the lower North Island.

“We want to inspire people to head out and explore the region’s parks and reserves while searching for orchids that, once found, can be left for others to enjoy,” said Department of Conservation botanist John Sawyer, who co-authored the book with Peter de Lange, one of New Zealand’s leading plant conservation scientists; photographer and botanist Jeremy Rolfe, and national orchid expert Ian St George. full Media release

Native birds under threat. tv3 video

click on the image of john campbell  for direct link to tv3 video

In a few days it will be spring and the birds will be in full song.

But in some parts of the country it will be an extremely muted song.

In fact there are now areas known as ‘bird deserts’ where there are virtually no native birds.

We know these regions exist because birdwatchers have just spent five years in the field finding out how many birds there are, and where they live – information for the latest edition of the New Zealand Bird Atlas.

Richard Langston with a story on the plight of our birds.
link