Chathams Community News
Community news from New Zealand's Chatham Islands.
In late January DOC staff were called to tend to a young albatross fledging found by the Camerons in a paddock on their property at Point Durham, South Chathams. They confirmed the identity of the bird as an Antipodean wandering albatross and relocated it to a nearby hill where the breeze would make for an easier take off. Returning to the site an hour later with gear to band the bird for future identification, it was found that the young fledging had already headed out to sea.
Whilst it is possible that the bird had come from the Antipodes (650 km southwest of the Chatham Islands), the most likely scenario is that it came from a nest site in Southern Chathams that we are unaware of.
The last known albatross to nest in Southern Chathams was a male Antipodean wandering albatross, found on the Seymour's property at Otawe in 2004. Two pairs have produced chicks on Pitt Island in recent years.
The Taiko Trust, a local conservation organisation on the Chathams, is marking the 35th anniversary of the taiko (magenta petrel or Pterodroma magentae) with a week-long series of events on the main Chatham island.
Mr Crockett and the team that made the original discovery on 1 January 1978 are returning to the Chathams, for the unveiling of a monument to the find that resurrected a species thought to be extinct. The unveiling takes place at 11am on Saturday January 26, but the events start on Wednesday January 23.
Open days are being held at the original ‘‘taiko camp’’ where volunteers working on the taiko re-discovery lived during the months they camped on the island waiting for the birds to return to breed. Other open days will be held at the new predator-free area on private land where a second breeding area is being set up. Activities will include night-time spot-lighting to watch for taiko.
New Zealand and the Chatham Islands have two main species of eel (tuna), the endemic longfin and the shortfin eel (shared with Australia), so named for the length of their fins. A third eels species the Australian longfin or speckled eel is also found occasionally in the upper half of the North island. Eels have long been a traditional and sustainable food for many New Zealanders. However longfin eels are now considered threatened, and shortfins are far less abundant than they used to be, in many parts of the country. The eels we all know so well have a life story which is quite startling.
David is a well known identity to the Chatham community. He first visited the Chatham Islands in 1969 with the belief & previous research that the taiko were not extinct as thought to be back then. He started dedicated searches for taiko in 1972 and on New Year's Day in 1978 this came to fruition when two taiko were captured. Ever since then, David has returned to the Chathams most years to voluntarily assist with the recovery of the species and help run 'Taiko Camp', which has been used as a base for 'taiko expeditions' over the years.
David is a foundation member of both the Taiko Trust and Taiko Recovery Group and his sustained dedication to the recovery of the taiko is honorable and well deserves this prestigious recognition.
With summer well on it's way, the Chatham Islands leatherback turtle project is up and running again. Like last summer, the project aims to collect sighting data of leatherback turtles at the Chatham Islands to better understand these seasonal visitors to our waters. As sea surface temperatures rise during the summer, the sea around the islands becomes highly productive for zooplankton (like jelly fish) – a major food source for leatherbacks. This high concentration of jelly fish attracts wandering leatherbacks all the way from the tropics. With the success last year, where several people provided sighting information and even photos of stranded leatherback turtles, the project will run again this year. Please report any sightings directly to the Department of Conservation on 03 3050098. This project is reliant on the support of you and your local community, so a big thank you to those who provided information. DOC also have sighting and identification cards available to give away.
The Department of Conservation has been successful in using 'skyranger' to track down new breeding burrows of taiko for a fourth year running, with very promising results! The high tech electronic tracking device captures signals from transmitters that are attached to the tail feathers of taiko, which have been caught and released at the 'lights operations' in southern Chathams.
The Air Chathams Cessna flew several 'grids' over the South Chathams last month with the 'skyranger' on board. Where the equipment was successful in detecting a bird, DOC staff then undertake a ground search at night in the area identified to try to find the burrow. So far two new taiko burrows have been found quite a distance from the known area of taiko burrows that DOC manages.
This season we have 13 known breeding burrows from a total of 18 pairs of birds, an increase of five pairs from the 2011 season. The new pairs this season include birds tracked to new burrows and pairings resulting from introductions made during lights operations over the last three years. The extra burrows discovered are a significant gain for the future of taiko.
Internet service provider Wireless Nation has announced the launch of their wireless broadband service in the Chatham Islands. The network currently covers 25% of dwellings and businesses on the remote islands, which lie 680 kilometres east of Christchurch and have a population of 650.
For a $199+GST setup fee and monthly subscriptions starting from $45+GST, customers can access reliable broadband service. Previously, residents’ only options for internet access were an extremely slow dial-up connection or a private satellite service that comes with installation and setup costs in the thousands of dollars – putting it out of reach for the majority of islanders.
DOC ranger Kenny Dix took the opportunity to band the wandering albatross chick whilst he was visiting Pitt Island recently. This was the sixth Antipodean wandering albatoss chick to be raised on Pitt Island and all going well, this special little one will set out to sea in early 2013.
The first banding was carried out on a wandering albatross chick in 2008 and because chicks can take up to an incredible seven years before they return to their fledging site, we may not know until 2015 how strong the sense of ‘returning home’ is for the young fledging.
Dorse and Judy Lanauze, part landowners of the majestic hill ‘Hakepa’, are delighted with the thought that in years to come their back yard may be the home for a new colony of seabirds on the Chatham Islands.
Are your gardens being eaten by possums? Birds being eaten by rats or cats, have you hedgehogs or wekas annoying you. Maybe your covenant or reserve needs trapping. CHART has traps that are free to all PRIVATE LAND owners. All that is required of you is to record your catch.
We have cage and leg hold traps and funding to purchase more if we are able to prove we are making an impact on pests. Call Lois 492