Pair of tawaki chicks - Gorge River October 2019

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.

rat and stoat numbers graphic
Rat and stoat numbers following mast event. Dr Graeme Elliott, DOC

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

Robin Long and Catherine Stewart watch Reuben Lane demonstrate the trail cameras in a tawaki colony