Welcoming the migrant birds back to New Zealand and tracking activities

There have been a number of exciting events at the Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre over recent months.

In October a public event was held to welcome the migrant birds back to New Zealand. Approximately 80 people attended this event which included a talk by Biz Bell on her work with Black Petrels on Great Barrier Island which is an island not far from the centre. This is a species of seabird that is range-restricted although the population is slowly increasing. This species after breeding migrates to the South American coast and around the Galapagos Islands and up to Japan. This means that they are vulnerable to a range of fishing bycatch which has clearly affected the population.

Following the talk, the participants went to the shoreline to view the newly returned Godwits and Red knots which generated much interest.

A group of people at the main bird hide © Chelsea Ralls

Other activities related to the Pacific Golden Plover project where last summer three satellite transmitters were placed on birds to discover their route to the breeding grounds. The transmissions provided the first confirmed idea of the migration route from New Zealand, and two of the birds duly landed in Japan. We were able to alert the bird watching society in Japan of their whereabouts and one of the birds was discovered at the stopover site. This is a marvellous indication of the coordination necessary to conserve the species and the cooperative efforts achieved through the EAAFP.

The third bird landed on Guam before heading into China and Russia ending up on the Alaskan breeding grounds.

We are following these birds as they return to New Zealand although it appears that two of the transmitters have stopped working and the third bird is still in Tonga but we are hoping that they will return to New Zealand soon.

This project is continuing and a further three birds have now been satellite tagged this summer and these will be followed with interest when migration starts in April.

Meanwhile the interest in migratory birds is increasing in NZ with approximately 15,000 visitors to the centre and the shorebird hides last year.

Pacific Golden Plover © Chelsea Ralls


Prepared by David Lawrie from Pukorokoro Miranda Naturalists’ Trust News

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