At The Karearea Nest

The karearea/NZ falcon pair on the island usually nests in the same place, and this year I put my old Ltl Acorn camera on a stand near the nest. These little videos show three very healthy chicks; I don’t know exactly how old they are, but the eggs had not hatched on 15 December, a month before. Three is unusual.

The SD card quickly ran out of space as wind kept triggering the camera, and so this is only a glimpse into life at the karearea nest. The few hundred videos recorded showed that the chicks are generally quiet at the nest site but do move around for shade and shelter, wait their turn for food and tend not to jump all over one another. They probably know not to attract harriers as they must be vulnerable when adult protection is not around.

I can report that at least two of the chicks have fledged and are following Mum around as at late February. The male parent seems to be missing and has been for two visits now. She did well to feed this large clutch by herself. As well as the little birds brought to the nest, she caught two shags (little or little black- a big effort to get them up the nest), and a red-billed gull. She is quite fearless and even had a prolonged go at a reef heron last week, which got quite agitated and it took me a while to work out that the much bigger reef heron survived unscathed.

As you may know, falcon are probably the biggest single impediment to establishment of the translocated kakariki. Falcon are a threatened species in their own right and things have to fall where they may. I did not find any kakariki remains at the nest this year. If the male or a new one does not show up, it may mean some respite for the kakariki next season, but until the juvenile falcon or indeed the adult female disperse the pressure will be on the local birds.

At The Sooty Shearwater Colony

This series of little videos shows activity at the sooty shearwater colony for the 2020-21 breeding season. Latest videos are at the top.

From March to early May, the chicks are growing in their burrows, then emerging before leaving. The adults taper off in their feeding visits, and the chicks are not fed at all for the last part of their stay.

2 May: the chicks must be close to departure. One was still present on the 5th when I had to take in the camera for the season. A successful year, the second in a row.
26 April: still a weka about, but this one did not get any sooty chicks this year to our knowledge.
20 April: first emergence, but a wet night and the chick has lost most of its down first time out.
Late March: one of the chicks can be heard calling from inside its burrow.

From mid-January to the end of February, there is still much activity at the colony. It looks like the second good season in a row. Burrowscoping shows a good number of chicks, in good condition. I’m struck by the frequency of visits by the adult birds to the two burrows in frame. Birds were evident on the surface every night, often a pair at the left-hand burrow. They must be feeding locally at the moment:

Not uncommon to see four birds in shot. I think the little skips in the clips are a camera setting which I will try to change.
If only I were allowed do this to the neighbourhood teenagers
Pair bonding in a summer downpour
The weka visited the burrow four times in the six weeks. The chick must be deep enough to be out of reach. One of the very few weka still on the island.
The burrowscoping is not very invasive and worth doing I think. Interestingly this burrow has scanned empty two times out of three despite obviously being active. It is a deep one.

We start in December-January. Both adults will be visiting the burrow, and at this stage they will be incubating one egg, or perhaps will have an early nestling. We can see some pair bonding, activity at both of the burrows visible in shot, territorial disputes, wing exercising, burrow maintenance, gardening, preening. Some of the clips have picked up the birds’ distinctive calls very well.