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Ratcliffe N.,The Lodge | Ratcliffe N.,British Antarctic Survey | Bell M.,Wildlife Management International Ltd | Boyle D.,Wildlife Management International Ltd | And 4 more authors.
ORYX | Year: 2010

The introduction of mammal predators to islands often results in rapid declines in the number and range of seabirds. On Ascension Island the introduction of cats in 1815 resulted in extirpation of large seabird colonies from the main island, with relict populations of most species persisting only in cat-inaccessible locations. We describe the eradication of feral cats from this large and populated island. The campaign had to minimize risk to humans and maintain domestic animals in a state that prevented them re-establishing a feral population. Feral cat numbers declined rapidly in response to the strategic deployment of poisoning and live trapping, and cats were eradicated from the island within 2 years. During the project 38% of domestic cats were killed accidentally, which caused public consternation; we make recommendations for reducing such problems in future eradications. Since the completion of the eradication campaign cat predation of adult seabirds has ceased and five seabird species have recolonized the mainland in small but increasing numbers. Breeding success of seabirds at Ascension was low compared to that of conspecifics elsewhere, and the roles of food availability, inexperience of parent birds and black rat predation in causing this warrant further investigation. It is likely that the low breeding success will result in the rate of increase in seabird populations being slow. © 2009 Fauna & Flora International.

Miskelly C.M.,Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand | Crossland A.C.,Transport and Greenspace Unit | Sagar P.M.,NIWA - National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research | Saville I.,Wrybill Birding Tours | And 2 more authors.
Notornis | Year: 2013

We report Records Appraisal Commitee (RAC) decisions regarding Unusual Bird Reports received between 1 Jan 2011 and 31 Dec 2012. Among the 137 submissions accepted by the RAC were the 1st New Zealand record of Pacific gull (Larus pacificus), the 2nd record of emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri), and the 3rd & 4th records of a crane (Grus sp., unidentifiable to species). Other notable records included the 1 st accepted sighting of a South Island kokako (Callaeas cinerea) since 1967, the 1st record of New Zealand dabchicks (Poliocephalus rufopectus) breeding in the South Island since 1941, and the 1st records of Snares crested penguin (Eudyptes robustus) from the Auckland Islands, sooty albatross (Phoebetria fusca) from the Chatham Islands, white-faced heron (Egreta novaehollandiae) from Antipodes Island, and Australian coot (Fulica atra) and common sandpiper (Tringa hypoleuca) from Stewart Island. In addition, notable influxes of plumed whistling ducks (Dendrocygna eytoni), great shearwaters (Puffinus gravis), Australian pelicans (Pelecanus conspicillatus), gull-billed terns (Gelochelidon nilotica) and Arctic terns (Sterna paradisaea) occurred during 2011-12. © The Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Inc.

Freeman R.,Microsoft | Freeman R.,University of Oxford | Dennis T.,University of Auckland | Landers T.,University of Auckland | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2010

Background: Determining the foraging movements of pelagic seabirds is fundamental for their conservation. However, the vulnerability and elusive lifestyles of these animals have made them notoriously difficult to study. Recent developments in satellite telemetry have enabled tracking of smaller seabirds during foraging excursions. Methodology/Principal Findings: Here, we report the first successful precision tracking of a c. 700 g seabird, the vulnerable Black Petrel, Procellaria parkinsoni, foraging at sea during the breeding season, using miniature GPS-logging technology. Employing a combination of high-resolution fixes and low-power duty-cycles, we present data from nine individual foraging excursions tracked during the chick-rearing period in February 2006. Conclusions/Significance: We provide a snapshot of the species' foraging range and behaviour in relation to detailed underlying bathymetry off the coast of New Zealand, finding a significant relationship between foraging movements and regions of the shelf-break. We also highlight the potential of more sophisticated analyses to identify behavioural phenomena from position data alone. © 2010 Freeman et al.

Miskelly C.M.,Museum of New Zealand | Scofield R.P.,Canterbury Museum | Sagar P.M.,NIWA - National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research | Tennyson A.J.D.,Museum of New Zealand | And 2 more authors.
Notornis | Year: 2011

We report Records Appraisal Committee (RAC) decisions regarding Unusual Bird Reports received between 1 Aug 2008 and 31 Dec 2010. Among the 58 submissions accepted by the RAC are the 1st New Zealand records of streaked shearwater (Calonectris leucomelas) and straw-necked ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis), 2nd records of great shearwater (Puffinus gravis), semipalmated plover (Charadrius semipalmatus) and Franklin's gull (Larus pipixcan), and 3rd records of little stint (Calidris minuta) and black kite (Milvus migrans). Other notable records included the 1st oriental cuckoo (Cuculus optatus) from the Kermadec Islands, a New Zealand dabchick (Poliocephalus rufopectus) near Nelson, and 2 records of Stewart Island shag (Leucocarbo chalconotus) near Lake Ellesmere, Canterbury. © The Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Inc.

Bell E.A.,Wildlife Management International Ltd. | Bell B.D.,35 Selmes Road
New Zealand Journal of Ecology | Year: 2016

Big South Cape Island (Taukihepa) is a 1040 ha island, 1.5 km from the southwest coast of Stewart Island/Rakiura, New Zealand. This island was rat-free until the incursion of ship rats (Rattus rattus) in, or shortly before, 1963, suspected to have been accidentally introduced via local fishing boats that moored at the island with ropes to the shore, and were used to transport the mutton birders to the island. This incursion was reported by the muttonbirders – local Iwi who harvest the young of titi (sooty shearwater, Puffinus griseus) – to the then New Zealand Wildlife Service (via the New Zealand Department of Lands and Survey). Investigation into the reports found ship rats had reached the island and had decimated the local land bird populations. Brian Bell and Don Merton attempted some of the first translocations of South Island saddleback (Philesturnus c. carunculatus), Stewart Island snipe (Coenocorypha aucklandica iredalei) and Stead’s bush wren (Xenicus longipes variabilis) with only the saddleback being successful. Extinctions of the snipe, wren and greater short-tailed bat (Mystacina robusta) were recorded. This was the first time rats were definitively recognised as the cause of extinction of native land birds and directed further debate into the impacts of rats and how to deal with them. © New Zealand Ecological Society.

Bell M.,Wildlife Management International Ltd
Notornis | Year: 2012

The Marlborough Sounds has a coastline of 1500 km and hosts the greatest diversity of marine shag species in New Zealand. A survey of all breeding shag species was conducted in spring 2006. Apart from New Zealand king shag, 3 species were counted: spoted shag (Strictocarbo punctatus), pied shag (Phalacrocorax varius) and litle shag (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos). Two other species (black shag Phalacrocorax carbo and litle black shag Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) also occur in the area but were not recorded breeding. A total of 1,254 pairs of spoted shag were recorded at 193 sites, with most colonies occurring in the outer Sounds and inner Queen Charlote Sound. Average colony size was 6.5 pairs (range 1-76 pairs), with 85% of colonies containing ≤10 pairs. The distribution of spoted shag colonies appears to be infuenced by the availability of suitable clif habitat. Breeding pied shags were found at 48 colonies, with a total of 438 pairs. Colonies were widely distributed, and average colony size was 9.1 pairs (range 1-28), with 83% containing ≤15 pairs. A total of 226 litle shag pairs were found at 24 colonies, with most colonies also including nesting pied shags. Colony size was on average 9.4 pairs (range 4-24), with 75% of colonies containing ≤10 pairs. Colonies of pied shags and litle shags were found mostly in native vegetation. Colonial seabirds that occur at relatively few locations can be used as indicators to establish critical thresholds for marine management and marine conservation. It is proposed that this survey provide a good baseline for such an approach in the Marlborough Sounds. © The Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Inc.

A survey of the entire 1500 km coastline of the Marlborough Sounds between Sep - Dec 2006 located 9 king shag (Leucocarbo carunculatus) breeding colonies, including 2 new colonies. The total population was estimated at 687 birds, a figure similar to the 10-year average estimated for the period 1992-2002. The 4 largest colonies supported 85% of all birds recorded. The total population appears stable compared to earlier surveys, but there was a tendency for some of the smaller breeding colonies to be occupied only temporarily. © The Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Inc.

Bell M.,Wildlife Management International Ltd
Notornis | Year: 2010

A total of 730 variable oystercatchers (Haematopus unicolor) were recorded during a survey of the entire 1,500 km coastline of the Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand in spring 2006. This included 347 breeding pairs, 28 single birds and a non-breeding flock of 8 birds. The distribution of oystercatchers was influenced by habitat and human development, with fewer birds found in the inner sounds, where there is most development, and in the exposed outer coastline, where cliff or boulder habitat is limiting. Using similar methods of coastal surveys during the breeding season, the estimated national population of oystercatchers has increased from 2000 birds in 1970-71 to 7000 birds in 2006. This represents a population growth rate of 3.5% per annum. Winter flock counts give lower population estimates and coastal surveys are recommended for future monitoring of this species. © The Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Inc.

Bell M.,Wildlife Management International Ltd | Bell C.,Wildlife Management International Ltd
Notornis | Year: 2010

Silvereyes (Zosterops lateralis) in an urban population in Marlborough, New Zealand showed considerable diurnal changes in body mass. At first light, average mass was 12.39 g, rising to 13.91 g by dusk. This represented a 12% average loss of mass overnight. The overall average mass was 13.22 g; birds were 6% below average at 0700 h, but increased rapidly to be near the average for most of the day, rising significantly in the 2 hours before dusk (1700 h). This pattern of diurnal mass change is consistent with theoretical models suggesting that birds should manipulate daily mass gain in order to trade-off starvation risk with mass-dependent prédation risk. © The Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Inc.

Bell M.,Wildlife Management International Ltd
Notornis | Year: 2010

A total of 57 reef herons (Ardea sacra) were counted during a survey of the entire 1,500 km coastline of the Marlborough Sounds in spring 2006. Most birds were encountered in the outer part of the sounds rather than the more developed inner sounds. The total New Zealand population is estimated at 300-500 birds. Both the Marlborough Sounds and national population appears to have been stable for the past 40 years. With a small but stable population the reef heron's threat classification in New Zealand should be changed from Nationally Vulnerable to Naturally Uncommon. The species is secure overseas with New Zealand being the southernmost limit for the species. © The Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Inc.

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