September 17, 2017 at 10:32 pm
As planned we went out late last night to deploy GPS dive loggers on female tawaki. And as forecasted it started pouring down about two hours before we left our research base in Neils Beach. Despite getting wet to the bone, we managed to fit two devices to penguins. Now let’s hope the tape we use to attach the devices holds. Applying it in such wet conditions is always a bit iffy. But I consider this a good start.
Because we returned around 2am we took it easy this morning.
Tonight, high tide is going to be around 9pm. With the current swell that hits the coast this means that we can’t get in or out of the penguin breeding areas between 6pm and midnight. So no logger deployments tonight. This is why we hoped to find any volunteering penguins in the afternoon.
By lunchtime, the weather had cleared up once again – welcome to the West Coast, or indeed, New Zealand. We prepared three more logger packs and headed out to Jackson Head. But, alas, no females anywhere in sight. So no loggers out today.
But on our search for females, we made a worrying discovery. Three of our 30 monitored nests have failed already. In a bad year, that can happen. But firstly all the environmental signals point to this being a good year for the penguins, and secondly the nests were all empty. No trace of eggs or chicks. 50 metres below the ‘apartment building’ we found a penguin egg with obvious bite marks. So either, the egg was scavenged by a possum after it had rolled out of the nest. Or we may have a stoat problem again.
We decided to keep a close eye on what is happening at Jackson Head. So we have abandoned our plan to go to Milford Sound tomorrow and will instead check all breeding area for signs of another stoat invasion.