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The detection, breeding behaviour, and use of mangroves (Avicennia marina australasica) by banded rails (Gallirallus philippensis assimilis)

Notornis, 69 (2), 99-111

Beauchamp, A.J. (2022)

Article Type: Paper

This study assessed how tall mangroves were used by a pair of banded rails (Gallirallus philippensis assimilis) with dependent young during three breeding seasons and the intervening periods. Banded rails were territorial and resident all year, raised their young under the mangrove canopy predominantly in dense pneumatophores, and sub-canopy seedlings and saplings. Foraging rails did not follow the tide as it covered and uncovered the flats. Young less than 20 days old were left in cover and delivered food. Young then followed parents as they strolled throughout the site, swam, flew short distances, and climbed mangroves. Rails bathed in and drank saline water and ate worms and crabs. The dependence period of broods was 45–49 days, and in one season, a young bird stayed within the natal site until it was 59 days old.

When the lonely goose? Implications of a revised history of the lake and its surrounding vegetation for a radiocarbon age for the only South Island goose (Cnemiornis calcitrans) from the Pyramid Valley lake bed deposit, New Zealand

Notornis, 69 (1), 19-36

Johnston, A.G., Duffy, B.C., Holdaway, R.N. (2022)

Article Type: Paper

A high resolution chronology of deep water charophyte algal remains in the Pyramid Valley lake deposit, North Canterbury, South Island, New Zealand, records the presence and drainage of a previously unsuspected much larger (c. 50 ha) lake. The larger lake occupied the surrounding basin and the present lake (1 ha) was a semi-isolated embayment at its south-western margin. Fluctuating lake levels and its final drainage drove changes in the vegetation and hence in the habitats available for the avifauna recorded in the rich fossil record. A high precision radiocarbon age on the only South Island goose (Cnemiornis calcitrans) in the fauna coincided with the presence of lowland forest and not with the brief period when sedges and grassland colonised the newly exposed former lake bed. This suggests that the South Island goose was able to survive in different habitats through successive glacial-interglacial vegetation cycles. Information from other disciplines can be essential to interpreting both a fossil site and the circumstances surrounding the presence of a particular species in it.


Short term effects of an aerial 1080 operation on mātātā (South Island fernbird, Poodytes punctatus punctatus) in a South Island wetland

Notornis, 69 (4), 203-210

Kilner, C., Kemp, J., Elliott, G. (2022)

Article Type: Paper

Abstract: New Zealand conservation managers use aerial 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) to control invasive mammalian predators, often with the aim of protecting populations of threatened endemic birds. Matātā (South Island fernbird, Poodytes punctatus punctatus) are endemic to New Zealand wetlands and are vulnerable to mammalian depredation. Mātātā populations might benefit from aerial 1080 predator control, but they also can suffer non-target poisoning losses. This study measured the short-term effects of an aerial 1080 operation on mātātā adult survival (i.e. non target mortality) and nest survival (over one breeding season) on the West Coast of South Island. The study utilised two sites, with an October (mid-breeding-season) aerial 1080 operation at one of the sites. We found no evidence of a negative short-term effect of aerial 1080 – none of fourteen colour-banded adult mātātā exposed to 1080 baits died of 1080 poisoning. Conversely, we found evidence of a short-term positive effect – aerial 1080 improved mātātā nest survival over one breeding season. The presence of a positive effect, in the absence of a negative effect, suggests that the net effect of the 1080 operation for the mātātā population was positive, at the end of the breeding season.



Amendments to the 2010 Checklist

Amendments to the 2010 Checklist of the birds of New Zealand. 2022, OSNZ Occasional Publication (No. 2), 69pp

Colin M. Miskelly, Natalie J. Forsdick, Brian J. Gill, Ricardo L. Palma, Nicolas J. Rawlence & Alan J. D. Tennyson (2022)

Article Type: Occasional Publication


New Zealand falcons (Falco novaeseelandiae) hunting petrels at night and underground during the day

Notornis, 69 (1), 37-44

Miskelly, C.M., McLaughlin, L., de Graaf, A. (2022)

Article Type: Paper

New Zealand falcons (Falco novaeseelandiae) routinely feed on burrow-nesting seabirds (petrels: Procellariiformes) at several sites. As petrels are rarely present on the colony surface during daylight, and falcons are considered to be diurnal hunters, there has been much speculation about how falcons are able to capture petrels. We present evidence that New Zealand falcons are able to hunt petrels in forest at night, and also enter burrows during the day to extract chicks. These are novel hunting behaviours for falcons, and further increase the broad range of hunting strategies documented for New Zealand falcons. While these hunting methods may be used by only a few individual birds, they can produce high prey-capture rates.



A New Zealand island in change: 38 years of landbird populations affected by habitat restoration and invasive mammalian predator control

Notornis, 69 (4), 211-228

Ralph, C.J., Ralph, C.P., Martins, P., Ralph, P.L. (2022)

Article Type: Paper

Abstract: Bird abundances on a small island (150 ha) near the mainland of northern North Island New Zealand were studied using a standardised, longitudinal survey through 38 years (1988–2020), a period during which habitat restoration, reintroductions of five native bird species, and control of rats (Rattus spp.) and stoats (Mustela ermina) occurred. We estimated time-series abundances of 33 bird species and found substantial population shifts shared by many taxa. The unique data set from this restoration project showed that: (1) more species and more individual birds were present at the end of the study than at the beginning; (2) rat control made an immediate and lasting difference, increasing population growth of the typical species 6% per year; (3) boosting ecological succession by habitat conversion and habitat enrichment resulted in a long term population growth of many native bird species; (4) shifts in species composition are still ongoing 20 years after predator control, with both gradual, long-term increases, and declines. In particular, two endemic species, and pōpokotea (whitehead, Mohoua albicilla) proved robust competitors in a predator- free environment, increasing in abundance, while most non-native and many native species declined. These gradual, longer-term shifts became clear during “maturation”, a period beginning about 13 years after predator control started.



Checklist 2022

Checklist of the birds of New Zealand. Fifth Edition. 2022, Occasional Publication (No. 1), 332 pp

OSNZ Checklist Committee (2022)

Article Type: Occasional Publication


Can small-scale predator control influence mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) nest survival? An experiment with artificial nests in Southland, New Zealand

Notornis, 69 (1), 45-53

Stewart, C., McDougall, M. (2022)

Article Type: Paper

Artificial mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) nests were used to identify potential nest predators and assess whether small, farm-scale predator control could reduce mallard nest predation in Southland, New Zealand. Artificial nests were deployed over the mallard nesting period (late winter – spring) in both 2019 and 2020 and monitored with motion detection cameras. Prior to 2020 artificial nest deployment, farm-scale trapping of mammalian predators was conducted on one farm whilst the other was left as a control. Feral cats (Felis catus), brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula), and European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) frequently visited the artificial nests but seldom preyed on them (i.e. consumed the eggs). Swamp harrier (Circus approximans) were the most common predator and were responsible for the destruction or predation of at least one egg at 17% of the artificial nests. Mammalian predator trapping had no noticeable effect on artificial nest predation, but did reduce the probability an artificial nest was visited by a cat, possum, or hedgehog. Results suggest typical predator control efforts of gamebird hunters does not reduce mallard nest predation, but may reduce nest disturbance and consequently mallard hen predation and nest abandonment.


Moa, climate, and eruptions: radiocarbon ages on habitat- specific moa show that their distributions were controlled by volcanic eruptions as well as climate

Notornis, 69 (4), 228-242

Holdaway R.N. (2022)

Article Type: Paper

Abstract: The species composition of moa assemblages reflected the local vegetation. These assemblages have been used as indicators of the geological age – glacial or Holocene – of the fauna. Within the assemblages, some species of moa have been associated with specific vegetation types, including Anomalopteryx didiformis with lowland rain forest, and Euryapteryx curtus, with dry shrubland. The sequence of radiocarbon ages for A. didiformis and E. curtus in the Waitomo karst, in the west central North Island, New Zealand, records changes in the distributions of their habitats over the past 28,000 years. The presence of A. didiformis shows that, contrary to current reconstructions, there was lowland rain forest in the karst during the Last Glacial Maximum. An abrupt change to E. curtus and hence of its shrubland habitat coincided with the Oruanui super eruption of Taupo volcano 25,400 years ago. Anomalopteryx didiformis and its rain forest habitat did not return to the karst until c. 13,000 years ago. E. curtus disappeared from the karst some time before that, during the gradual post-glacial warming, but remained elsewhere on the Volcanic Plateau, probably in the seral vegetation that followed the continual eruptions. Moa distributions were not always altered just by climate change. Major eruptions such as the Oruanui could change their habitat and hence their distribution over much of both main islands.





Changes in the Mana Island, New Zealand, bird community following mouse (Mus musculus) eradication

Notornis, 69 (4), 243-255

Miskelly, C.M., Beauchamp, A.J., Oates, K.E. (2022)

Article Type: Paper

Abstract: House mice (Mus musculus) have proven to be the most difficult introduced mammal to eradicate from (and keep out of) New Zealand reserves and sanctuaries. Partly as a consequence of this, little is known about how bird communities respond to mouse eradication. Mice were successfully eradicated from 217 ha Mana Island Scientific Reserve, near Wellington, in 1989–90. Five-minute bird count surveys undertaken in spring and autumn before and after mouse eradication revealed that 13 of 22 species were recorded significantly more often after mouse eradication, and just two species were recorded significantly less often following the eradication (and each of these in one only of the two seasons that were compared). Four species had no significant change, and three species showed mixed responses between the two seasons. While the overall pattern was of increased relative bird abundance after mouse eradication, there is limited information on why individual bird species increased during the study period, and whether this was a consequence of mouse eradication. Bird count data revealed that insectivorous passerines may have benefited the most from mouse eradication on Mana Island, suggesting that competition for invertebrate prey was the main impact that mice had on the birds of the island. The use of anticoagulant rodenticides to eradicate mice from Mana Island had little detectable impact on populations of the island’s birds.


Vagrant and extra-limital bird records accepted by the Birds New Zealand Records Appraisal Committee 2019–2020

Notornis, 68 (4), 253–265

Miskelly C.M., Crossland A.C., Saville I., Southey I., Tennyson A.J.D., Bell, E.A. (2021)

Article Type: Paper

Abstract: We report Records Appraisal Committee (RAC) decisions regarding Unusual Bird Reports received between 1 January 2019 and 31 December 2020. Among the 149 submissions accepted by the RAC were the first New Zealand records of collared petrel (Pterodroma brevipes), South Polar skua (Catharacta maccormicki), and rose-crowned fruit dove (Ptilinopus regina). We also report the first accepted breeding record for gull-billed tern (Gelochelidon nilotica), and the sec- ond accepted sightings of Australian white-faced storm petrel (Pelagodroma marina dulciae) and buff-breasted sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis). Other notable records included the first records of Atlantic yellow-nosed mollymawk (Thalassarche chlororhynchos) from the Snares Islands, nankeen kestrel (Falco cenchroides) from Antipodes Island, long-tailed skua (Stercorarius longicaudus) from the Chatham Islands, and Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea) from the Bounty Islands.