West Auckland beach wrecks - prions + petrels

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Michael Szabo
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West Auckland beach wrecks - prions + petrels

Postby Michael Szabo » Mon Jul 30, 2018 1:01 pm

Ian McLean reports: "There is a large wreck of seabirds occurring on Auckland's west coast beaches at present. Two patrols undertaken by Birds New Zealand members over the weekend found a large number of dead birds that were mainly prions. Virginia Nicol undertook a patrol of Bethells, O'Neills and southern Muriwai beaches & found 39 Fairy prions, 23 Slender billed prions, 1 possible Fulmer prion?, 1 Antarctic prion, 7 prion (sp), 3 Grey-faced petrels, 1 White-headed petrel, 1 Little blue penguin & 1 Shearwater (sp). A patrol of Karekare by Jeremy Painting found 4 Fluttering Shearwaters, 1 Grey Faced Petrel, 18 Slender Billed Prions, 9 Fairy Prions, 1 Antarctic Prion, 7 prion (sp) & 1 Australasian Gannet. Please check the beaches for birds if you are out there & record the numbers & species, as it is valuable information."

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Ian Southey
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Re: West Auckland beach wrecks - prions + petrels

Postby Ian Southey » Mon Jul 30, 2018 5:12 pm

True enough. South Auckland beach patrol Kariotahi today by myself and Wendy Goad found these birds from just 7km. A very few had made it ashore alive but many on the tide line were starting to decay so they may have blown in from a distance. At 40-ish birds/km that's a pretty major wreck. How widespread is it?

Fairy Prion 131
Thin billed Prion 120
Antarctic Prion 15
Salvin's Prion 11
Broad-billed Prion 1
Fluttering Shearwater 5
Kerguelen Petrel 1
Grey faced Petrel 1
White-headed Petrel 1
Blue Petrel 1
White-capped Mollymawk 1
Grey-headed Mollymawk 1
Gannet 3
Magpie 1

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David Riddell
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Re: West Auckland beach wrecks - prions + petrels

Postby David Riddell » Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:51 am

A couple of weeks late getting out to Waikorea Beach (had a cold, then the Kawhia pelagic), and the cats had largely beaten us to it - there were up to five sets of tracks running parallel along the beach at various points, and almost everything heavily scavenged. Lots of things reduced to wings, hence many recorded as "Prion sp.". Was about to put down one set of small blue-grey wings as such, when I spotted a disarticulated head close by and realised it was a blue petrel. One fairy prion was reasonably fresh, also an adult white-capped mollymawk that was still holding together reasonably well, though quite decayed. The beach is 5.4km, so much lower birds/km than Karioitahi, which is probably an indication of the extra time that's passed. Still a lot of birds.

Full list was:

Fairy Prion 29
Thin-billed Prion 13
Salvin's Prion 1
Prion sp. 17
Blue Petrel 1
White-headed Petrel 2
Fluttering Shearwater 4
White-capped Mollymawk 1

Also 5 small juvenile NZ fur seals - we've had the odd one before, but this is a lot. Plus several dead (and very smelly!) cattle, sheep and goats, even more than usual for Waikorea, and lots of dead raupo and other debris swept down the streams, which also didn't help when it came to locating birds.
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Oscar Thomas
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Re: West Auckland beach wrecks - prions + petrels

Postby Oscar Thomas » Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:28 pm

I had a school trip to Muriwai Beach on Monday which involved walking the 3.4km from Okiritoto stream to Maori bay. I went along the high tide line and found 11 fairy prions, 3 thin-billed prions, 6 prion sp. 3 fur seal pups and 1 pufferfish. Do you have any photos of the Salvin’s David?
https://www.instagram.com/oscarkokako/ - NZ List (205) Glossy Ibis, Hauraki, Waikato
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David Riddell
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Re: West Auckland beach wrecks - prions + petrels

Postby David Riddell » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:27 am

Sorry, no. It was in a pretty bad state (just a head, wings and a ribcage, lamellae long gone), but I'm pretty sure that's what it was - all dark bill, slightly bowed at the sides. I do have photos of the blue petrel head, a fur seal pup, cat-scavenged thin-billed prion and cat tracks if you're interested in any of that. I've also got a photo from August 2016 of a Salvin's, fairy and thin-bill from Waikorea lined up for comparison - see below.
Salvins, fairy and thin-billed prions.jpg
Salvins, fairy and thin-billed prions.jpg (194.6 KiB) Viewed 655 times
Pat Miller
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Re: West Auckland beach wrecks - prions + petrels

Postby Pat Miller » Thu Aug 09, 2018 12:01 pm

Hi Folks,
I went to see the whale stranding near Bayly's Beach (on Ripiro Beach near Dargaville) on Monday and on the walk along the beach to it, saw quite a lot of prions on the beach. I didn't take too much notice of the species or do a count on the way there in the morning, intending to do that on the way back, but by the time we went back between 4.30 and 5.00 pm it was high tide and 4WD vehicles had churned up the entire dry sand part of the beach above the tideline and so I couldn't find so many. The ones I did see on the way back were mainly thin-billed prions and an occasional fairy prion. I saw one live prion in the surf zone at the whale stranding, and the dead ones washed up were about every 50 - 100 metres, so a patrol this coming weekend for anyone interested could still be a fruitful exercise.

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