Southern Fiordland seabird highlights

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Colin Miskelly
Posts: 649
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 6:31 pm

Southern Fiordland seabird highlights

Postby Colin Miskelly » Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:43 am

Hi all

A team including Alan Tennyson, Graeme Taylor, Colin Bishop, Terry Greene and myself has just returned from a week of surveying seabirds in Chalky and Preservation Inlets. An extraordinary spell of settled weather and calm seas allowed us to land on a total of 77 islands, including several outer stacks on our return to Doubtful Sound. Significant finds included 26 sooty shearwater colonies, three new mottled petrel colonies (and confirmation of two others), and eight new broad-billed prion colonies. We also confirmed continued presence of broad-billed prions breeding on five stacks where Kim Morrison found them in the 1980s. Four of these stacks held populations of Fiordland skinks, which we were thrilled to see after failing to find them on 58 islands in Dusky Sound this time last year (mainly due to poor weather – we landed on several islands that they had been recorded from in the 1980s).

We were keen to learn more about grey-backed storm petrels in Fiordland, and so ran spot-lighting sessions from the boat at five widely dispersed locations in Chalky and Preservation Inlets. Grey-backed storm petrels were seen at three sites, though it was difficult to know how many birds were seen at each site (there were at least two birds at one site in Chalky Inlet). The single bird captured had a bare, highly vascularised brood-patch, providing further supporting evidence for this species breeding in Fiordland.

The biggest seabird surprise was landing an Antarctic prion during the same spot-lighting session off the north coast of Chalky Island. The nearest known breeding site is on the Auckland Islands. A broad-billed prion was caught soon after, allowing comparison of the two species side-by-side. We also caught two common diving petrels during the session, a species that we failed to find breeding in Fiordland (though they breed nearby on the Green Islets and Little Solander Island).

Cheers
Colin
Last edited by Colin Miskelly on Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:22 am, edited 2 times in total.
Colin Miskelly
Posts: 649
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 6:31 pm

Re: Southern Fiordland seabird highlights

Postby Colin Miskelly » Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:25 pm

Broad-billed prion on left, Antarctic prion on right. Chalky Inlet, 22 Nov 2017
Prion heads.jpg
Prion heads.jpg (99.63 KiB) Viewed 559 times
Colin Miskelly
Posts: 649
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 6:31 pm

Re: Southern Fiordland seabird highlights

Postby Colin Miskelly » Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:21 am

I have updated the original message with accurate figures for petrel colony numbers
Colin Miskelly
Posts: 649
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 6:31 pm

Re: Southern Fiordland seabird highlights

Postby Colin Miskelly » Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:11 am

More details and images about the survey are in the following Te Papa blog:

http://blog.tepapa.govt.nz/2017/12/05/seabird-discoveries-in-remote-southern-fiordland/

Cheers
Colin

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