Hello friends and family
These are challenging times for penguins. 10 years ago we had 46 Yellow-eyed penguin nests here at Moeraki and now we are down to 38. The mainland-based population 10 years ago was around 600 nests and now it is 155.
Of those 38 nests here, 5 have failed. One failed at the incubation stage – the female disappeared, and the male was forced to abandon the eggs, one at the brooding stage when the female disappeared, and the chicks died of starvation. One lost their chick last week, maybe to predation and we brought in the male and 2 chicks from another nest on Tuesday. The chicks weighed only 90% of what they should, and the male is a wreck. On Thursday we found a predated chick so brought the sibling into safety.
Our response to the chicks dying of starvation was to weigh every chick once a week so that we can detect when they stop thriving sooner. This is not a task that I would take on single handed and is only possible because of the awesome team we have here. 50 sets of very sharp claws can be daunting.
Our response to the predation is to put live traps in the reserve – we have no other options available to us. Our regular trap line is monitored weekly and we regularly change the baits. Yesterday we found another predated chick. If they continue to die, we will bring in the post-guard ones that rely on camouflage to survive – it is not working for them. The tough thing for them is that there is no going back to the parents – they will have to fledge from here.
Let’s all hope that the next decade brings recovery to the penguins and health and happiness to us all!
Have a great week