New children’s picture book: A Little Blue, by Jeanette Goode
A Little Blue is a self published children's picture book written and beautifully illustrated by Coaster Jeanette Goode.Fourteen years in the making, A Little Blue, has just been launched! A Little Blue is a self published children's picture book written and beautifully illustrated by Coaster Jeanette Goode. This delightful new book is the first in a series that feature the threatened species of Aotearoa New Zealand. It is written for 7 to 12 year olds and is particularly helpful for reluctant readers as Jeanette has drawn pictures to tell a slightly different and deeper story. It is a tale of love and the arresting power of nature and Jeanette is very kindly making a donation to the West Coast Penguin Trust for every copy sold! Reviewer and author Melinda Szymanik has reviewed the new book: "There is a lot to like about this sophisticated picture book/junior fiction hybrid. The title, A Little Blue, is a multi-layered clue to what we will find inside. Epistolary in form, the story follows Simmy’s time staying with her Dad at his beach side house on the West Coast. "Simmy is living with her dad because her mum is sick, so the book begins with her begging her mother to let her come home. Everything is strange and not at all what she’s used to, and she’s stuck there until her mother gets better and there is no certainty that she will. "We are cleverly drawn in to Simmy’s mind through the subtle text, beginning with the misery she feels as she misses her normal life and her mum most of all. But from letter to letter we find Simmy less and less resistant to her new surroundings as she gradually becomes involved in coastal life, especially with the pair of Little Blue Penguins nesting under her bedroom floor. We learn about penguins along with Simmy, and about the unexpected joys and challenges of living by the ocean. "I was really charmed by this book. The writing is assured and captures Simmy’s voice well. There is plenty to discover in each letter and illustration about local life, local fauna and Simmy herself, and the story charts a realistic trajectory for Simmy’s transformation, ending with a satisfying twist. "The accompanying artwork suits the feel of the book, effectively depicting the changing emotions and environment. A donation from every sale of this book goes to the West Coast Penguin Trust to assist with research, conservation and education programmes. Recommended for kids aged 7-10." You should be able to find it at a book shop near you or you can buy direct from Jeanette.
September 30, 2020
Mena, the only penguin detection conservation dog in the South Island, along with handler Alastair Judkins, joined the West Coast Penguin Trust for two weeks to survey penguin nest sites and visit schools.
Mena, the penguin detection dog, visits the West Coast
Mena, the only penguin detection conservation dog in the South Island, along with handler Alastair Judkins, joined the West Coast Penguin Trust for two weeks to survey penguin nest sites and visit schools.Mena, the only penguin detection conservation dog in the South Island, along with handler Alastair Judkins, joined the West Coast Penguin Trust for two weeks to survey penguin nest sites and visit schools. Mena's key function is to sniff out penguin sites and the Trust wanted to confirm the penguin presence and ideally numbers in several areas including north of Hokitika, along the penguin protection fence north of Punakaiki, and around Tauranga Bay/Cape Foulwind and Carters Beach. She knows, when her muzzle is on, that she's on duty. She'll seek out a whiff of penguin and then track it down. When she has found the source, she'll sit down and await further instructions. Alastair will get her to sit and stay on a small blanket while he investigates further and records the finding. Alastair and Mena also offer a wonderful session for primary school age children and we were delighted to be able to take Alastair and Mena to several of the schools we work with - Hokitika, Kumara, Paroa, Grey Main, Barrytown, Westport South and Granity schools. Bringing this dymanic duo over from Kaikoura has been supported by the Westland Dairy Company, KiaOra Vancouver and Canterbury Petfoods and we are enormously grateful to them all. Knowing where penguins are nesting is invaluable when development is planned and we are also keen to have a measure of penguins protected by the penguin fence, which we are confident are increasing in number, but doing surveys like this will give us greater certainty. The school children had a wonderful time learning about conservation dogs and Mena in particular and then getting to meet this gorgeous Vizla. Read more about Mena here.
Penguin education takes on new meaning
The distressing loss of these penguins has been turned into a valuable education opportunity for local biology studentsBlue penguins, only as tall as a 30cm ruler that every student will have in their tool kit, have been killed on coast roads since the roads were built through their nesting areas but some are now helping biology students in their studies. When penguins have been found dead on West Coast roads, they will be recorded in a mortality database to inform conservation management, and then, if they are in good condition, they may be held in a Department of Conservation freezer for future study. Sadly, the freezer at the Greymouth DOC office had accumulated around 20 mostly blue penguins but also a couple of Fiordland crested penguins and space was needed. That presented the opportunity for the West Coast Penguin Trust to work with John Paul II High School and parent and vet from West Coast Vets, Marjan Sprock, to run a dissection class. West Coast Penguin Trust Education Ranger, Lucy Waller explained: “Not only do senior biology students learn about a local native species, observing the anatomy and adaptations of penguins to their environment making science real and relevant, but they contribute to finding out more about these penguins, potentially confirming the cause of death and establishing whether any plastic has been ingested.” With assistance from teachers and led by Marjan and Lucy, the students established what and where the vital organs were and recorded damage to organs and bones, amounts of fat and muscle and any stomach contents. “In one case, they found an egg, a very sad example of the loss of a healthy breeding penguin clearly illustrating not only the loss of one but of future generations of penguins. In most cases the penguins were emaciated - a surprising finding and something warranting further investigation.” “In addition, these students have been asked to take part in an international penguin study through the New Zealand Penguin Initiative. Brazilian penguin scientist, Dr Ralph Vanstreels, is studying the epidemiology and taxonomy of nasal mites found in a variety of penguin species. In a follow up session, John Paul II students looked for and then analysed these tiny nasal mites, smaller than a pin head, to help this project, adding another useful and fascinating layer of learning.” The penguin trust together with DOC ran dissection demonstrations for Westland High School and South Westland Area School last year and they heard that one of the WHS students was inspired and encouraged to go and study biology at university after the session. The Trust was also able to organise a dissection class with Westland High School recently, with another parent and vet, Lynda Murphy. “The distressing loss of these penguins has been turned into a valuable education opportunity for local biology students with the fantastic support of DOC and of John Paul II and WHS teachers and especially vets Marjan and Lynda. It was a privilege to work with them all.” Photos by John Paul II student, Siobhan Ellis
September 24, 2020
KiaOra Vancouver is an ex pat group of kiwis keen to help fellow kiwis feel at home there, keep informed and have fun ... and fundraise for causes like penguin conservation!
From Vancouver with love
KiaOra Vancouver is an ex pat group of kiwis keen to help fellow kiwis feel at home there, keep informed and have fun ... and fundraise for causes like penguin conservation!KiaOra Vancouver is an ex pat group of kiwis keen to help fellow kiwis feel at home there, keep informed and have fun ... and fundraise for causes like penguin conservation back home! They organise events and social gatherings including Waitangi Day, a Summer picnic, and a Christmas party as well as providing tips and hits for living in Vancouver along with work and travel related information with an overall aim of joining kiwis together. On Saturday February 8th, 2020 Kia Ora Vancouver Community Society hosted their tenth annual Waitangi Day Celebration and Fundraiser at The Blarney Stone bar in downtown Vancouver, Canada. As part of the festivities, their major sponsor Air New Zealand donated a round-trip airline ticket to New Zealand which always helps to draw large crowds. One of the KiaOra Vancouver Directors, Robyn Tucker-Peck explains: "This event continues to attract hundreds of New Zealand expats and honorary New Zealanders in Greater Vancouver to celebrate this significant day in New Zealand’s history and to raise funds for a worthy cause. "We now have a large following of over 4,000 members and our mission is to engage our members with information and services in Vancouver. Supported by Twitter, Instagram and our newsletter, the Waitangi Day event is a targeted audience for New Zealand organisations to introduce their products and to grow or spread their brand. "The success of our 2020 Waitangi Day event was largely due to the contributions of our sponsors, who went out of their way to support us with donations and products. Funds raised were used to help two charities in New Zealand: “Kiwis for Kiwi” who supports the conservation of the kiwi bird in New Zealand, and “The West Coast Penguin Trust” who support the blue penguin." This is the second year that KiaOra Vancouver have supported the West Coast Penguin Trust with fundraising at the Waitangi Day event and they raised a very generous $1500 for the Trust's work with blue penguins through $1 per Steinlager stubbie donations! Trust Manager, Inger Perkins, welcomed the donation: "This donation is very useful and very timely. The Trust has been fortunate to engage Alastair Judkins and his penguin detection conservation dog, Mena, for some essential penguin survey work as well as visits to some of the schools we are working with. This wonderful donation from KiaOra Vancouver is a huge help in bringing Alastair and Mena over for two weeks work with the Trust and we're enormously grateful to Robyn and her fellow volunteers all the way over in Vancouver." Robyn added: "Our Board Directors all share a common goal – Join Kiwis together. We come from all areas of industry, and Business, are all professionals, and volunteer our time. We do this out of love for our New Zealand heritage and the desire to bring like-minded kiwis and friends together for fun, business, socializing and networking." Thank you KiaOra Vancouver!!
August 26, 2020
Every year, the Trust compiles its achievements, hopes and thanks into an Annual Report from the Chair. This year, Trust Chair, Reuben Lane, looks back on his first year in the role.
Annual report shares highlights
Every year, the Trust compiles its achievements, hopes and thanks into an Annual Report from the Chair. This year, Trust Chair, Reuben Lane, looks back on his first year in the role.Every year, the Trust compiles its achievements, hopes and thanks into an Annual Report from the Chair. This year, Trust Chair, Reuben Lane, looks back on his first year in the role. Highlights include a successful application to the Department of Conservation Community Fund, giving the Trust three years of security with around 56% of our costs being met and the confidence to employ a permanent part time year round Ranger, and we're delighted to have the very experienced Matt Charteris in that role. The New Zealand Penguin Initiative came into being on the back of work by Kerry-Jayne Wilson and Dr Thomas Mattern to review the research and conservation status of all New Zealand penguins. Our Trust will be working closely with the NZPI team to ensure our methodology and reporting are consistent with those of other penguin conservation groups around the country. That includes our newly established Fiordland crested penguin or tawaki breeding success monitoring programme. Our Education programme led by Lucy Waller has grown strongly over the 2019-20 year and Lucy is now working with 15 Coast schools and other penguin groups outside the region are keen to borrow our education resource. Special thanks go to Wellington Zoo Trust, the West Coast Community Trust, the ANZ Staff Foundation, the Sargood Bequest and the Buller Council Community Fund for their generous financial support of our work last year. Read all the highlights and more detail in our WCPT Annual Report 2019-20.
Birds NZ Research Fund supports Trust projects
The West Coast Penguin Trust has been successful in its applications for funding from the Birds NZ Research Fund this year.The West Coast Penguin Trust has been successful in its applications for funding from the Birds New Zealand Research Fund (BNZRF) this year. The fund mainly supports logistic costs and equipment and we sought support for our blue or little penguin foraging study based in Charleston, and our study of tawaki or Fiordland crested penguins in South Westland in order to better understand the threat posed by stoats and the best methods to manage that threat. Birds New Zealand / Te Kāhui Mātai Manu o Aotearoa are the Ornithological Society for New Zealand and their mission is to foster the study, knowledge, and enjoyment of birds. The generous support of their research fund for the tawaki project in particular is especially helpful. Following the 'mega mast' or heavy seeding event seen in Autumn 2019, it is anticipated that stoat numbers will have climbed steeply last summer and remain high through the winter, with the potential for a disastrous impact on tawaki eggs and chicks. Working in South Westland and bringing suitably experienced rangers to the study sites is an expensive business and the Trust is hugely grateful for the BNZRF support. Summaries of both Trust projects along with other projects funded this year are on the Birds NZ website here. Little penguin foraging study overview Tawaki breeding success in relation to stoats overview
Annual penguin count dates set
The Great Annual West Coast Blue Penguin Count will take place this year between 17th and 22nd October, when tides are low in the early morning.The Great Annual West Coast Blue Penguin Count will take place this year between 17th and 22nd October, when tides are low in the early morning. If you ever think you would like to make time to get out to the beach for an early morning walk, now's the time to do it with an extra purpose! An early morning walk brings a variety of benefits:
- a dose of daylight - helps to reset melatonin levels for a better night's sleep
- fresh air
- connecting to nature
- mental well-being
- reminding you why you love the coast, and
- helping to determine where there may be penguins.
Coastal wildlife awareness signs going up at a beach near you
New signs alerting beach goers to the possible presence of wildlife are going up across the West Coast region.New signs alerting beach goers to the possible presence of wildlife are going up across the West Coast region. Led by the West Coast Penguin Trust, this initiative has the support of every District Council and local Department of Conservation teams. The wording and design of the new signs were developed collaboratively, and Westland Milk Products generously stepped in to pay for them. The new signs ask people to keep themselves and their dogs at least 20m away from wildlife, whether it be penguins, seals, sealions or other sea or shore birds such as banded dotterels and black-billed gulls. Many of these are threatened or at risk and their survival relies on minimising disturbance. Sadly, DOC and penguin trust data collected over the past 14 years shows that dogs continue to be responsible for around 19% of the deaths of blue penguins reported across the region. These new signs are a friendly reminder to keep dogs under close control when walking at the beach during daylight hours, and on a lead from dusk to dawn and through vegetated dunes and coastal scrub. Trust Manager, Inger Perkins, explained: “When penguins have been killed by dogs, generally those dogs have been loose and often free to roam from home or out of sight and control of the owner. And it’s not just penguins that are at risk. Seals have been known to have been savaged by dogs and later had to be euthanized. But even the wasted energy required to escape disturbance by people or dogs could be the difference between survival and death for one of these creatures.” Blue penguins are at the start of this year’s breeding season. They generally lay eggs around July – August and are raising chicks between September and December. In a study of dog control in relation to wildlife on Dunedin's beaches, it was found that it was critical to have consistency in the messaging, and not have a variety of signs from Trusts, Councils and DOC that could present conflicting information. If signage was confusing or conflicting, it was largely being ignored, so the group working on this new project from the West Coast Penguin Trust, Buller, Grey and Westland Councils and with various DOC biodiversity staff from Westport, Greymouth and Hokitika offices have been at pains to work together and come up with a consistent and shared message.
June 21, 2020
The penguin protection fence is doing just what it was designed to do say the West Coast Penguin Trust, keeping penguins from straying onto the state highway and being killed.
Over 60 penguins saved – statistics show that fence is protecting penguins
The penguin protection fence is doing just what it was designed to do say the West Coast Penguin Trust, keeping penguins from straying onto the state highway and being killed.The penguin protection fence is doing just what it was designed to do say the West Coast Penguin Trust, keeping penguins from straying onto the state highway and being killed. The three kilometres of fence installed by the Trust north of Punakaiki, mostly in 2014 and extended past Seal Island in 2015, protects four colonies of blue penguins. Numbers of penguin tracks seen on the beaches in those areas are reported to be increasing by local residents. The Trust has arranged for the colonies to be surveyed later this year to confirm numbers, but, for now, statistics are telling a very positive story. The Trust has worked with DOC to record penguin mortality since 2006 and, before the fence was installed, 56% of all reported deaths were caused by vehicles (154 of a total of 273 dead penguins for eight years). 75% of those deaths on the roads were in Buller (116), largely on the Coast Road. When compared to the six years after the fence was installed, the proportion of penguins being killed on the roads dropped to 37% (49 of 131) and half of those were in the Buller confirming the assumption that the penguin protection fence is working. Looking at the numbers as opposed to percentages, it is clear that penguins are much better off. Without a fence, and based on the figures before the fence was installed, it is likely that around 87 penguins would have been killed on the roads in the Buller between 2014 and 2019 but the actual number is 25. 25 too many of course, but that’s as many as 60 penguins saved. West Coast Penguin Trust Manager, Inger Perkins, is delighted. “The figures really do tell a success story. We knew that six to eight penguins were being killed on the Coast Road every year in this area and we knew we had to do something about it. With support from the community and a variety of businesses and organisations including the NZ Transport Authority, we installed a fence that is saving penguins’ lives. We’re also very grateful to the NZTA for continued support towards its maintenance with the help of WestReef.” The statistics also show that the proportion of penguins killed by dogs has remained at around 20% of reported penguin deaths, but numbers are slightly down. In the eight years to 2014, 52 blue penguins were killed by dogs, around 6-7 a year. Since 2014, there have been 28 blue penguins killed by dogs, under 5 a year. “It’s distressing to know that dogs are still killing penguins despite our efforts over many years to encourage the West Coast community to think penguins and not allow dogs to roam in coastal areas. However, we have been working with all three District Councils and DOC on a new awareness campaign – coming soon – and we appeal to all dog owners to keep their dogs safe and secure when at home. That will keep both dogs and penguins safe.”
It’s World Albatross Day today!
It is the first World Albatross Day today!How much do you know about these magnificent seabirds? They are fascinating and impressive and we have many species right here in New Zealand! As with most of our beautiful and impressive species, they are in trouble and their numbers are declining. Take today as an opportunity to spend a few minutes learning about them, watch one video of them on youtube, and we promise you won't be disappointed in their magnificence! Read more here. And the inaugural World Albatross Day was featured on National Radio this morning - interesting story, less than 4 minutes: https://www.rnz.co.nz/.../inaugural-world-albatross-day...