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Otago Peninsula Trust

  • Hatching season underway     21 January 2019
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    Eggcitig times at the Royal Albatross Colony as the 39 fertile eggs of a record season begin to hatch!

    Donations are so helpful to the DOC Rangers as they work hard to look after the eggs and chicks this summer. We're raising funds to help with the boom population as more nests need irrigation during the hot weather and chicks need supplementary feeding - this well help buy more squid when needed - let's hope we don't need it and theres plenty of great food for the albatross and their chicks. Hope you're enjoying the Royalcam - isn't a wonderful view of albatross life- we're all glued to it waiting for the Royalcam egg to hatch! We're expecting eggs to start hatching soon, so the DOC Rangers are working extra hard, last count 39 fertile eggs - a huge record!

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  • New Royalcam Couple LGK & LGL     11 December 2018
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    Thank you all for you patience while we chose and located the webcam this season. The general busyness of so many eggs laid this season along with inclement weather and the physical challenge of moving the webcam to the new location up a very steep slope has meant some delays. It also happens that many of the nests in range of the webcam cable are early breeders this season. We have given them some extra time to confirm that they are changing over regularly and incubating the egg well.

    Our current pair are LGK (Lime, Green, Black, a 10 year old male) and LGL (Lime, Green, Lime, an 11 year old female). Maybe you have seen them walk past the webcam in previous seasons? This season is their second breeding attempt and their egg has been confirmed as being fertile. LGL laid their egg on the 6th of November and was the 9th out of 51 to be laid this season.

    The nest name is South Plateau and this nest is higher up the hill than the webcam has been in previous seasons. It is directly across from the Observatory towards the Signal Station.

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  • Record Number of albatross eggs laid at Pukekura/Taiaroa Head     26 November 2018
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    Fifty one eggs have been laid this season compared to an average of 30-35 eggs over each of the past five years.

    DOC Ranger Jim Watts, says while it’s still early days, the popular albatross colony at Pukekura/Taiaroa Head could soon see a population boost.

    “Each time we find another egg we get even more excited, we’re hoping for a great rate of hatching success to make up for last year’s poor season”.

    Last year extreme weather conditions resulted in a higher than usual number of failed nests and only 13 chicks fledged compared with 26 and 23 chicks over the previous two years.

    “Breeding usually takes place on a two-year cycle, however birds whose nests fail sometimes return the following season to breed again and this is the reason for this year’s increased nest and egg numbers”, explains Jim Watts.

    “We know some eggs will be infertile and one egg was found broken in its nest. While we can expect other challenges such as early embryo deaths, we’re still hopeful this will turn out to be our best breeding season yet.”

    Royal Albatross Centre Manager Hoani Langsbury says albatross fans are in for a treat next year.

    “This is a really exciting time, we’re hoping the record number of eggs will lead to lots of fluffy chicks and a wonderful experience for visitors to the centre.”

    “We know loyal fans of the Royal cam chicks will be closely watching to see this year’s egg hatch and another generation of albatross grow up in this special place.”

    In the coming days the Royal cam web camera will be moved closer to a nest which is within the camera cable’s range so the hatching progress can be live streamed.

    This year’s chicks will be kept cool over summer thanks to the generosity of visitors to the colony and donations from a Givealittle page set up by the Otago Peninsula Trust to directly benefit the albatross conservation effort at Pukekura/Taiaroa Head.

    “Over the last few weeks we have replaced the irrigation system used to cool the albatrosses on hot, dry days by upgrading the piping to endure the increasingly extreme weather conditions”, says Jim Watts.

    “We also have new egg-candling and supplementary feeding equipment which will improve albatross management and the donations should also cover the cost of squid supplies for the rest of the season, until the last chick fledges around early October next year.”

    A highlight of other major improvements made is two new incubators which replace the aging single unit at the colony.

    The chicks are likely to start hatching mid-January.

    You can watch the albatrosses breeding season progress on Royal cam.

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  • Predator control at Taiaroa Head - feral cat seen in colony     30 May 2016
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    Everyone loves Royalcam and seeing the beautiful albatross chick growing up before their eyes.

    However there have been a few surprises, noisy Blue Penguins, a seal pup, and unfortunately a passing feral cat. The video this week shows a feral cat stalking our famous web cam albatross chick at Taiaroa Head. As the webcam runs throughout the night, we can now see what’s going on when the reserve’s in darkness.

    As the cat is light on its feet, it manages to walk up close to the chick but doesn’t wake it. DOC rangers have seen this ginger cat in the nature reserve for about three weeks.

    It’s not a threat to the chick which now weighs about 8kg but DoC Ranger Lyndon said it would have caused him sleepless nights if it was around when the chick was first left alone in March.

    Within the reserve, DOC staff have seen carcasses of sooty shearwater chicks, probably killed by a variety of predators both introduced (cat/stoat/ferret or rat) or natural (gulls/harrier).

    Taiaroa Head doesn’t have a predator proof fence – it isn’t possible there as it’s a weak foreshore zone - and all predators can swim. Stoats are known to swim over 2km. About 10,000 seabirds live at Taiaroa Head. Taiaroa Head is significant for many other species besides albatross. Its one of only a few mainland sites where some seabird species exist (Otago shags, royal spoonbills) or where there are significant mainland populations (sooty shearwaters, little penguins, red billed gulls). Other seabirds would have existed here prior to introduced mammals arriving. These are lost from mainland sites now.

    Taiaroa Head has the longest running continuous predator control programme for introduced predators in NZ. Traps have been checked daily since the 1960s and sporadically throughout the seasons between the 1930s and 1960s. The programme was initiated for the protection of albatross but the removal of albatross predators has also hugely benefitted other seabirds. Between October last year and now, we’ve caught 33 rats, five stoats and one ferret within the reserve. Predator control has been carried out in conjunction with other partners on the Peninsula inclusing Penguin Place, DCC Taskforce Green, Natures Wonders, Pukekura Trust and Otago Peninsula Trust.

    The birds are certainly safer now. In the 1990s, it was typical to catch more than 20 cats, a dozen stoats and a dozen ferrets in a season.

    Check out the video link to see the cat paying a visit.

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  • Albatross Chicks doing well after big storm.     14 March 2016
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    Good news. There were a few bitten fingernails last week as we had huge winds in Dunedin, and the webcam went out leaving people worrying about the chicks.

    All 26 chicks are doing well, and made it through the storm. Some of the parents cam back to shelter their chicks, but the chicks were stoic and endured all that wind.

    We are still seeing great flying by the adolescents on the webcam too - hope everyone is tuning in!

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  • Albatross Chicks hatching now!     27 January 2016
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    We now have 20 chicks hatched, with 8 fertile eggs left to hatch. Check out the DOC live webcam to watch an albatross chick at it's nest for the next 8 months.

    Here is our media release for the first chick hatched...

    The first chick of the 2015/16 breeding season for the Northern Royal Albatross Colony at Taiaroa Head/Pukekura on Otago Peninsula in Dunedin was welcomed on 14th January 2016.

    Summer heat during January and February is expected to be a challenge for the nesting adults and young chicks as overheating and fly strike can cause mortality.

    Mayor of Dunedin, Dave Cull, says "The City is thrilled to welcome 2016's first Royal Albatross chick. It's so important to us, as the wildlife capital of New Zealand, to support conservation of the world's only mainland Royal Albatross breeding colony. As well as the benefits for the endangered albatross population, they are a great symbol for the city, and Dunedin is fortunate to host such good breeding colonies of many wildlife species”.

    Otago Peninsula Trust General Manager Robyn McDonald comments “This is a great time to visit the colony as there are several nests within view of our exclusive viewing observatory on the nature reserve. The chicks are eagerly awaited by all our team who love the birds; our team enjoys sharing the exhilaration of seeing awesome albatross with visitors who come from around the world to see our unique site”.

    “Of course, there are concerns about the forecast hot summer and the effect it has on albatross chicks. The Trust, which runs the Royal Albatross Centre, works closely with the Department of Conservation (DOC) which manages the albatross colony reserve. All the extra work involved with looking after albatross in hot weather also puts pressure on the Trust. So the Trust has set up a Givealittle fundraiser to help with extra costs such as trucking in water for the colony’s sprinkler system to keep albatross and chicks cool on blistering hot days.”

    DOC Coastal Otago Operations Manager, Annie Wallace, says “We are pleased to welcome the first chick this year. This is likely to be a particularly challenging season given the El Nino conditions we are experiencing. The lower rainfall and higher temperatures increase the likelihood of birds overheating on the nest.”

    “We appreciate the help of Otago Peninsula Trust who have been committed partners for many years,” she said.

    DOC rangers have long hours ahead in the next few weeks, checking the chicks several times a day to ensure they avoid fly strike and are adequately fed during the critical first 48 hours after cracking the shell.

    Endangered Northern Royal Albatross have been successfully breeding at Pukekura since 1938, when the first chick was fledged. This season, 30 nests are dotted around the nature reserve. 29 of these nests are fertile with one couple nurturing a foster egg. The 30th nest has been provided with a dummy egg to give the parents practice at nesting and to provide a back-up if a nest fails. The 2014/15 breeding season was the second most successful season on record, with 26 chicks raised. The colony is home to around 220 albatrosses whom, once mature, breed every two years.

    125 albatrosses have been spotted this season since September with five birds returning for the first time. The five newly returning birds will not have touched land for over five years until their return to Pukekura for breeding. This season they are seen displaying adolescent behaviours including partying, courting, display flying with a few hijinks thrown in.

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  • Chicks are about to start hatching at Royal Albatross Centre     14 January 2016
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    With albatross chicks about to start hatching and hot dry El Nino weather we are really appreciating the support of Givealittle donors - thank you!! Your support enables us to help DoC provide more care for the albatross and chicks during this weather event. We have 29 fertile eggs and want to do all we can to help the chicks fledge successfully.

    We have had some great publicity for our campaign as well.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/75775191/water-sprays-to-counter-el-nio-threat-to-albatross-chicks

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  • Raising funds to help albatross chicks -$5000 target     22 December 2015
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    Albatross chicks and parents need your help to survive this El Nino Summer.

    Excessive heat can lead to egg, parent and chick loss in the world's only mainland Albatross breeding colony.

    Otago Peninsula Trust has initiated fundraising $5000 to assist DOC with extra care for the birds.

    Please help us quickly raise funds for extra albatross support

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  • Thank you     14 October 2015
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    Thanks everyone who has donated! We are nearly halfway to raising the $1000 for the insurance excess.

    The police are still investigating the break-in and looking for the culprits.

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