In New Zealand’s subantarctic Auckland Islands, the island-wide population size of white-chinned petrels (Procellaria aequinoctialis) is unknown. On ten islands in the group, surveys for burrow distribution were followed by whole-island burrow counts or stratified random sampling of white-chinned petrel habitat. White-chinned petrel burrow density, burrow occupancy, and slope-corrected surface areas were used to calculate the breeding population size. Burrows were patchily distributed and most abundant in dense megaherb communities. White-chinned petrel burrow density at Adams Island was 701 burrows/ha (95% CI: 480–803 burrows/ha). Burrow occupancy was 0.59 ± 0.02 (mean ± se) at the start of incubation. An estimated 28,300 (10,400–44,800) white-chinned petrel pairs breed on Adams Island. Including the small colonies on Ewing, Monumental, and Enderby Islands (together c. 100 pairs) and the estimated 155,500 breeding pairs on Disappointment Island, the Auckland Island group has an estimated 184,000 (95% CI: 136,000–237,000) pairs of breeding white-chinned petrels.
Enderby Island is a much-visited small island in the New Zealand subantarctic, and is an important area for birdlife. However, despite this, the bird community of Enderby Island has never been systematically described. We summarise bird records on Enderby Island from 1840 to 2018. Using these data we describe the bird community with an emphasis on resident species, and compare the frequency of sightings before and after eradication of invasive mammals in 1993. We also investigate trends in bird sightings from 1992 to 2018. There was a significant increase in the sightings of some species, including tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae) and silvereye (Zosterops lateralis), and a significant decrease in others, including white-fronted tern (Sterna striata). Some species, such as New Zealand falcon (Falco novaeseelandiae) and Auckland Island snipe (Coenocorypha aucklandica aucklandica), have recovered successfully following dramatic historical declines. We hypothesise that these trends in sightings are driven by changes in human exploitation, the introduction and subsequent eradication of browsing mammals and mice, changes in the abundance and structure of the invertebrate community, and changes in vegetation cover. However, we believe that trends in sighting rates of southern royal albatross (Diomedea epomophora) may be an artefact of changes in visitor behaviour following the construction of a boardwalk, rather than changes in the species’ abundance.
We undertook a survey of coastal wetlands in Canterbury (NZ) during a widespread river flooding event in Spring 2013 to quantify numbers and distribution of wrybill (Anarhynchus frontalis). We found 740 birds, of which 685 (92.6%) were at Lake Ellesmere/Te Waihora. We calculate that 15.8% of the estimated effective wrybill breeding population were displaced from breeding rivers by floods at this time. Our findings support the evaluation by Dowding & Moore (2006) that the network of wetlands along the Canterbury coast appears to be of critical importance to wrybill as breeding season flood refugia.
Four New Zealand pipit nesting attempts were monitored in an urban wasteland field in Onerahi, Whangarei.A female laid two clutches in dense kikuyu (Pennisetum clandestinum) in October and December 2015 and fledged young from both clutches. Pipits were then absent from the site from February until late August 2016. The male reappeared and used the exact same home range, with a new female. This female laid two nests in the more open low gorse (Ulex europaeus) and aristea (Aristea ecklonii) cover in September and October 2016 but both nests were depredated at 3–5 and seven days after hatching, respectively. All three chicks, the female, and possibly the male were killed during the latter predation event. There were differences in adult behaviour throughout the breeding cycle. The female constructed the nest and undertook all the incubation. During the incubation period the male was only present at the nest site in the early morning and did not roost at the site each evening. The pair was present throughout the day after the chicks hatched. Pipits used more frequent calling rates when there was a perceived threat, and when that threat was near a nest.
Black-fronted terns (Chlidonias albostriatus) are globally endangered and are one of six endemic bird species that rely on New Zealand’s braided river ecosystems for breeding. Like other marsh tern species, black-fronted terns are predicted to have low breeding-site fidelity due to the instability of their breeding habitat, small colony sizes and high predation rates. We used breeding colony location data collected from nine South Island rivers for 3–12 years (2004–2015) to investigate the breeding-site fidelity in black-fronted terns. The distribution of breeding colony locations from seven of the nine rivers analysed were not significantly different to a simulated random distribution. The tendency of black-fronted terns to form breeding colonies near past breeding site compared to new sites was only significant for two of the nine rivers analysed. Overall, there was low breeding-site fidelity in black-fronted tern colonies from year to year across the rivers analysed.
Maungatautari is a 3,240 ha pest-fenced ecosanctuary free of virtually all mammalian predators in Waikato, New Zealand. We used triennial 5-minute counts within the ecosanctuary and biennial surveys of residents up to 20 km from the perimeter pest fence to measure spillover of tūī from Maungatautari into the surrounding area over a 9-year period (2006–2014) following pest eradication. Following pest eradication in the ecosanctuary, tūī relative abundance increased there and in the surrounding largely unmanaged area. The mean number of tūī per 5-minute count within the ecosanctuary was 2.23 (se = 0.163) in 2005 and increased following predator eradication in 2006 to 3.33 (se = 0.206) in 2008, 3.76 (se = 0.193) in 2011, and 2.68 (se = 0.279) in 2014. The mean maximum number of tūī at one time observed by residents in the largely unmanaged area increased from 4.4 (max = 47, n = 320) in 2006 to 15.6 (max = 300, n = 138) in 2014. Tūī numbers in both the ecosanctuary and the surrounding area were positively correlated with time since pest eradication. In the largely unmanaged area surrounding Maungatautari, tūī numbers were also positively correlated with provision of artificial food, and negatively correlated with distance from the ecosanctuary. Wind was negatively correlated with the number of tūī recorded in 5-minute counts at Maungatautari. Our findings show that pest-free ecosanctuaries can facilitate increased abundance of volant birds in surrounding landscapes if habitat is available.
We report Records Appraisal Committee (RAC) decisions regarding Unusual Bird Reports received between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2018. Among the 160 submissions accepted by the RAC were the first New Zealand records of Macquarie Island shag (Leucocarbo purpurascens) and Cox’s sandpiper (Calidris x paramelanotus), and the first accepted at-sea sightings of blue petrel (Halobaena caerulea), Salvin’s prion (Pachyptila salvini), Antarctic prion (P. desolata), and thin-billed prion (P. belcheri) from New Zealand coastal waters. We also report the second accepted breeding record (and first successful breeding) for glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), and the second accepted records of red-footed booby (Sula sula) and laughing gull (Leucophaeus atricilla). Other notable records included the first record of nankeen kestrel (Falco cenchroides) from Campbell Island, and at least 5 northern shovelers (Anas clypeata) simultaneously present in June 2018.