A finalist in Auckland's Mayoral Conservation Awards, the Warkworth Forest & Bird Little Penguin Project is the culmination of many years of collaboration with the Leigh community.
Project Co-ordinator Jenny Enderby says the project’s vision is for the kororā / little penguin and other native birds to thrive in a safe habitat that stretches along the coast from Ti-Point to Goat Island.
“We want the little penguin population to flourish now and into the future. To increase penguin numbers, we need safe nesting sites that are predator free.
“We can achieve what we need through collaboration and education. We work with many people across a mix of sites that include conservation land, public land and private land.”
Many hours are spent trapping predators such as rats, stoats, weasels and possums. The traplines include over 200 traps that are monitored regularly. The predator control programme also protects other native species such as kākā, tūī, kererū, ruru, riroriro and pīwakawaka.
Support for the predator control programme has come from Rodney Local Board and Department of Conservation community funding and ITM Matakana donated timber for traps and penguin nesting boxes.
Deputy Board Chair Beth Houlbrooke says enhancing Rodney’s natural environment and supporting environmental projects run by volunteers is a local board priority.
“Local volunteers are committed to creating a safe environment for the kororā and other at-risk native birds.
“More and more people are learning about the little penguin through this community-driven project.
“Recently, signs placed along the coastline at Leigh and Ti Point coast help people understand how they can protect the little penguins especially when out walking dogs.”
Data including penguin population numbers, fledgling chicks, eggs and nesting sites is recorded and will be added to the New Zealand Penguin Initiative database.
Enderby says the next step is being able to monitor more penguins and more nesting sites to increase their protection from predators.
“Kororā have been/ are nesting in several nesting boxes at Leigh with others coming ashore to make nests along the Leigh and Ti Point coast.
“For the project to succeed, we must record more penguin nesting sites along with fewer trapped predators is a sign that the project is succeeding.
“We can do this with funding for several more trail cameras and a night vision scope.”
Enderby says Leigh locals wanting to report penguin sightings, help with predator control or penguin monitoring can email email@example.com. Donations for the penguin project can be made to Forest & Bird Warkworth.