Successful seabird season at Cape Foulwind

sooty-shearwaterOn 23 December, Trust Ranger Reuben Lane and Chairperson Kerry-Jayne Wilson surveyed the sooty shearwaters at Cape Foulwind and the gulls and terns breeding on nearby Wall Island.  It looks like a good season for all.  (Photo: Graeme Taylor)

We found 10 shearwaters incubating an egg, one of the best years yet, and there is lots of activity with almost all burrows showing signs of use by shearwaters.  On Wall Island there are at least 78 pairs of nesting red-billed gull nests, 15 pairs of white-fronted tern nests and 2 pairs of black-backed gulls. 

Red billed gull Taumaka Open Bay Islands 2006 Inger c

Red-billed gull (Photo: Inger Perkins)

The Trust aims to grow the shearwater and blue penguin colonies at the Cape to eventually enable free public viewing of the birds. Reuben operates a predator trap line to protect the shearwaters and we have speakers that play penguin calls August to October and shearwater calls October to March to encourage the birds to breed near the Seal Colony walkway.  This is a real test of Reuben’s trapping abilities; the shearwaters have a strong musky scent that makes them easy for stoats to find. Stoats have been trapped and so far no shearwaters killed.

Sooty shearwater (Photo: Kerry-Jayne Wilson)

Sooty shearwater (Photo: Kerry-Jayne Wilson)

If you are at Tauranga Bay during the hour after dusk anytime between October and March, wait where the path to the Wall Island lookout branches off from the Seal Colony path.  If you are lucky you may see the sooty shearwaters circling overhead then crash-landing in the flaxes above the path.  Listen for their vigorous caterwauling calls.  Please stay on the path; if you go in search of them you will frighten the birds, damage nesting burrows and you would not see them anyway, they quickly disappear down their burrows which are over a metre long.

The set up costs for this project were funded by a grant from Solid Energy.