“The last vestiges of light are fading over Paparoa National Park, Westland in the South Island of New Zealand. As the skies darken, a magnificent silhouette can be seen soaring above a small group of scientists. Soon one silhouette becomes many and within fifteen minutes of the first sighting, birds begin to plummet down into the bush, hitting the ground with a disarming crash. There ensues a cacophony of sound as birds call to their nesting partners, or perhaps to each other – a wild kind of party on the forest floor in this remote part of the country.”
Kate Whitley of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa explains in her illustrated on-line account how to extract an ACAP-listed and Vulnerable Westland Petrel Procellaria westlandica from its burrow at the species’ only breeding site. A burrowscope is first used to check for presence, the birds are then carefully removed (with gloves!) so that previously fitted GPS loggers can be downloaded of the birds' at-sea movements.
Westland Petrel, photograph by Susan Waugh
“The local community [is] embracing the fact that they have a unique Petrel colony on their doorstep, and this year launched the inaugural ‘Return of the Westland Petrel’ festival. The highlight of the festival was a beach parade where locals could witness the birds soaring in overhead on their return to the nesting site.”
One of the May festival’s highlights was also the unveiling of a huge model petrel in a tree above the entertainment stage (click here).
Click here for the whole article by Kate.
John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 17 August 2015