September 16, 2015 at 11:28 pm
We called off today’s nest searches for obvious reasons. We will still try to get the first set of data loggers deployed on willing tawaki tonight. With breeding further advanced than we’d hoped, we haven’t got any time to waste.
The weather wasn’t on our side this morning with heavy rainfall throughout most of the day. Nevertheless, we used a break in the weather to head out to Jackson Head after dinner tonight. Armed with three GPS logger/TDR packs we made our way along the coast to a site we call “Popi’s Plaza” (named after Popi Garcia-Borboroglu, president of the Global Penguin Society, who’s discovered it).
It’s densely vegetated with kiekie and bush lawyer, two plants that drive humans crazy because it’s so easy to get entangled in the former and ripped to shreds by the thorns of the latter. Once you have struggled through the nasty stuff, you’ll reach broadleaf forest where some tawaki breed in small caves and crevisses in a steep bank.
Although we had only found six nests here the day before, three of these were quite suitable for our tracking study. We managed to deploy devices on the female penguins at the first two nests, but unfortunately found that our third potential logger nest had not survived the day of heavy rain. Seeing a mother guarding her lifeless chick put a spotlight on the reality of El Niño this year.
Last year, two of 30 nests we monitored failed. This year we haven’t even looked at more then 20 nests and four are gone already. So although nest numbers initially were comparable to last year, we’re losing nests at a higher rate.