The first ever comprehensive survey of ōi (grey-faced petrels) and kororā (little penguins) living on the west coast of Auckland has been published.
Todd Landers, a scientist from Auckland Council’s Research and Evaluation unit (or RIMU), surveyed from Muriwai Beach to Te Henga (Bethells) to understand the scope and health of our precious seabird populations.
With help from seabird detection dog Rua, Todd found 97 grey-faced ōi nests, (including 14 with chicks), and 13 kororā nests, along with sightings of a variety of other species including the kekeno (New Zealand fur seal), kāruhiruhi (pied shag) and karoro (southern black-backed gulls).
A number of pest animal signs including those of rats, cats and rabbits were also encountered, which are likely to be having an effect on native wildlife.
“Although we found a relatively small number of breeding birds, this survey shows we have a real opportunity for conservation management to help protect and enhance grey-faced petrels and little penguins,” says Todd.
“Auckland Council and local community groups carry out pest control work in the area to reduce the damage caused by pest species, but we can all do our bit to help the seabirds thrive.
“If you are walking on the beach or tracks, please keep your distance from any seabirds and their nest and roost sites, remain quiet, and leave them be. If you take photos, please don’t use flash photography.”
Dogs are also a known threat to seabirds. Dogs are prohibited in a number of areas where the survey was done, such as at O’Neill Bay, along the Te Henga track, and at Otakamiro Point and Maukatia (Maori Bay).
“People walking their dogs need to be aware there are petrels and penguins living and nesting here. Please respect any signs, and refrain from walking dogs in areas where it’s prohibited,” says Todd.
The research made a series of recommendations that could help support seabird populations. These recommendations will be investigated by the council’s Parks, Biosecurity and Biodiversity teams.
A public consultation on the council’s approach to pest management will be included in next year's Long-term Plan.