Penguin breeding season gets underway

tawakiSpring is springing all around us and penguins up and down the coast are likely to be incubating eggs. 

Trust Ranger, Reuben Lane, was out last month to check on the blue penguin (korora) nest sites we monitor in the Buller area but our focus has been on the start of our second season of monitoring Fiordland crested penguins (tawaki) in South Westland.

Robin Long and Catherine Stewart watch as Reuben shows how to set the camera c rThanks to the support of Geoff Robson and Greenstone Helicopters, the Trust’s Chair, Kerry-Jayne Wilson, and Reuben got to take a world class fight down to Gorge River last week to visit the Long Family and the second of the sites where motion sensor cameras are being used.  Having tried various combinations of camera, battery and still and video settings, the best of these has been determined and the photo shows Reuben going through the procedure with Robyn and Catherine Stewart, who will be setting and maintaining cameras around the Gorge River colonies. 

Reuben said: “A scenic flight over the Cascade moraines and New Zealand’s last great swamp should be at the top of everyone’s bucket list! Thanks also to the Long family for their warm hospitality and invaluable work with the video monitoring study of the tawaki living around their house at Gorge River.”

tawaki stretchingThey returned to Jackson Head to install another set of cameras along with local resident and Trustee, Paul Elwell-Sutton.  Reuben explained that through the work at both sites, “it is hoped that the Trust can add some valuable information to our knowledge about threats to these stunning birds.”

The first year’s monitoring showed the presence of possums, stoats and rats and that the penguins generally disregarded them.  However there was one record of a juvenile penguin being killed by a stoat and the second year of monitoring will provide further clues as to threats to the tawaki populations. 


The purpose of the study is to establish which, if any, predators do pose a threat to the penguins so as to inform any future predator control. 

Photos below show Reuben installing a camera and tawaki in their South Westland habitat.tawaki in typical habitat - kiekie and cave

reuben installing motion sensor camera four tawaki in cave