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New Zealand pipit (Anthus n. novaeseelandiae) nesting and breeding behaviour in urban Onerahi, Whangarei

Notornis, 66 (4), 200-209

A.J. Beauchamp (2019)

Article Type: Paper

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 tern (Chlidonias albostriatus) colony dynamics in New Zealand braided rivers

Notornis, 66 (4), 192-199

C.H. Hamblin; A.M. Paterson; J.G. Ross; R.F. Maloney (2019)

Article Type: Paper

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.

Pest mammal eradication leads to landscape-scale spillover of tūī (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae) from a New Zealand mainland biodiversity sanctuary

Notornis, 66 (4), 181-191

N. Fitzgerald; J. Innes; N.W.H. Mason (2019)

Article Type: Paper

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.

Vagrant and extra-limital bird records accepted by the Birds New Zealand Records Appraisal Committee 2017–2018

Notornis, 66 (3), 150-163

C.M. Miskelly; A.C. Crossland; I. Saville; I. Southey; A.J.D. Tennyson; E.A. Bell (2019)

Article Type: Paper

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.

Birds and bats of Rotuma, Fiji

Notornis, 66 (3), 139-149

A. Cibois; J.C. Thibault; D. Watling (2019)

Article Type: Paper

Rotuma, Fiji, is a small and isolated island in the Central Pacific, rarely visited by ornithologists. We present here our own observations on the avifauna, obtained in 1991 and in 2018, completed by previous records obtained since the 19th Century. The main changes on the species composition concern the extirpation of the white-throated pigeon and the settlement of the reef heron. The status of the four endemic landbirds (one species and three subspecies) is good, especially that of the Rotuma myzomela. However, the recent arrival of the common myna (2017–2018) represents a potential threat. We also observed that the Pacific sheath-tailed bat, which was abundant 30 years ago, has probably been extirpated from the island.

Parameters influencing selection of nest boxes by little penguins (Eudyptula minor)

Notornis, 66 (3), 129-138

H. Ratz (2019)

Article Type: Paper

Little penguins (Eudyptula minor) readily breed and moult in nest boxes. The selective placement of nest boxes can enhance their use, improve breeding success and increase recruitment. I examined nest parameters for 171 nest boxes at Pilots Beach, southern New Zealand, in relation to their use for breeding and for moulting in the 2016 breeding season. Linear models to assess the relative importance of nest box parameters produced definitive results where a higher likelihood of use was interpreted to indicate a preference. The only preference for breeding or moulting was for shaded boxes that were free of vegetation at ground level. These trends were supported by comparisons of proportions of boxes used for breeding and moulting that indicated shaded boxes surrounded by bare ground were preferred to unshaded boxes surrounded by introduced grasses. Proportions also indicated that boxes on flat ground with a flat entrance were preferred to boxes on sloped ground or a sloped entrance for breeding and moulting. About half of the boxes between 61 and 90 m distance to the landing were used for breeding and moulting. Females nesting in shaded boxes had a higher breeding success than those in unshaded boxes but their chick masses were similar. To optimise nest box use by little penguins and encourage recruitment, nest boxes ideally should be placed under bushes or artificial structures on open ground up to 90 m from the landing.