Welcome Swallow

Welcome Swallow
Welcome Swallow

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Matiu/Somes & Mana Islands - a wet and windy week

A group of 19 bird enthusiasts (12 teenage trainees and 7 support people) had planned to go out on Tuesday to spend 5 days on Mana island doing bird and nature orientated activities, including mist netting.  Unfortunately with rain and gale force winds predicted for several days and the sea too rough to get out to Mana Island it was decided to go to Matiu/Somes Island until the weather improved. There were a great team of people.  Sharon who organised the trip also acted as Camp Mother as well as being a general helper out, Craig our cook who did a fantastic job. Graeme and Shane both sea bird experts and experienced mist netters, and Paul another mist netter. Lynn is a a Lizard expert as well as an experienced mist netter and Ian a bird and Lizard man. As well the 12 trainees were a great group of enthusiastic young people.

The Team


We arrived on the Island about midday and although the rain eased enough to consider putting mist nets up we were unable to do so as with the sudden change of plans we still needed the necessary permits. With the help of modern technology this was obtained but too late to make a start before dark. We were able on Wednesday to set nets for periods between showers but the capture rate was pathetic.  Plenty of birds but just couldn't seem to catch them. We ended up with just 6: 1 Red Crowned Parakeet, 1 Dunnock, and 2 each of Fantail and Silvereye.
However in the evening we able to check marked Little Blue Penguins coming ashore and then again during the day for birds staying over in nest boxes. This was done under the watchful eye of Graeme and Shane. They have been marked over the last few years as part of a study comparing flipper bands, web tags and transponders on survival rates. Over 40 individual bird were identified which was a good number during the non-breeding period.
A Penguin being examined for its ID.
The opportunity was also taken to check on the Fluttering Shearwater colony that is being established from birds that have been transferred to the Island in the last few years. Even though they don't start breeding for several months it was a pleasant surprise to find 11 present.
Jo the ranger on the Island gave us great support and assistance.

Mana Island

By Thursday the weather had abated enough for us to get out to Mana Island. By the time we got off Matiu/ Somes and up to Plimmerton and out to Mana  it was mid afternoon. We were able to get nets up for a couple of hours before the rain again set in. On Friday the mist netting was again affected by periods of rain but with putting nets up and furling them during periods of rain we were able to have a reasonable catch rate. On Saturday we had our first fine day of the week and were able to mist net in the morning before getting ready for an early PM departure.

As well as the mist netting,  teams under the the guidance of Graeme and Shane, went to the Sooty Shearwater colony and were able to band over 40 chicks. Lynn and Ian took teams searching for Lizards especially Golden striped and MacGregors Geckos and among other findings established that the MacGregors Gecko has expanded its range considerably.

Although we did not catch big numbers of birds we had a great variety and sufficient to be able to give trainees experience and by the end of the trip they were all competent in  handling birds. We colour banded a number of birds to give added experience. We caught 63 birds of an amazing 16 species.

Species caught were - all new, we had hoped to catch some of the original transferees of Bellbird, Yellow Crowned Parakeet and Whitehead but were unsuccessful.

Bellbird - 17 all colour banded.
Blackbird - 4 also colour banded.
Chaffinch - 1
Greenfinch - 1
Goldfinch - 3
Dunnock - 6 colour banded.
Yellow Crowned Parakeet - 11
Craig our cook with his first Y C Parakeet
Fantail - 1 colour banded.
Grey Warbler - 1
Whitehead - 7
NI Robin - 1
Kingfisher - 3
Tui - 2
Silvereye - 3 a surprisingly low number
Welcome Swallow - 1 the first banded in the Wellington area by the group and a first for me.
My first Welcome Swallow.
House Sparrow - 1 colour banded. Had hoped to catch more in order to set up a study to see if they move between the Island and Mainland.

Di the ranger on the Island was of great assistance and took part in, and was interested, in our activities.
Busy people at the banding station

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