Concrete birds to lure gannet colony

Science is being used to try and create a gannet colonoy similar to this one at Muriwai.  Steven McNicholl
Science is being used to try and create a gannet colonoy similar to this one at Muriwai. Steven McNicholl

Fake concrete birds and sound equipment are being used to lure gannets to Mana Island, north of Wellington.

Friends of Mana Island hope their painted concrete gannets will convince the real birds that Mana Island is the place to hang out - and start colonising.

Gannet Project co-ordinator Dr Brian Bell enlisted the help of Ngati Toa School and Department of Conservation to help relocate their concrete gannet "colony" to a new position on the northeast corner of Mana Island last week.

It meant repainting the birds, clearing the new location down to bare earth and rock, and even spraying fake white guano around the site.

The Department of Conservation provided sound equipment to duplicate bird sounds, powered by solar panels.

Dr Bell says he is not sure why the old location, set up in 1997, was passed over by the birds.

"It may be there was not enough wind uplift there," he says.

The new site was chosen for good take-off and landing conditions, owing to its exposure to northerly and southerly winds.

"Judging by the enthusiasm to help spray around the false guano, the Ngati Toa kids thought that was the best part.

"Mind you, climbing down the cliff under the watchful eye of Paul [Pearson] to collect rocks to weight down the sound system was pretty cool too."

Dr Bell says the relocation was the culmination of a two-year project.

"The new site is visible from Karehana Bay at Plimmerton so we hope that the local bird watchers will keep an eye out for real gannet activity and let us know."

- The Porirua News

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf01 at 25 Dec 2014 21:58:49 Processing Time: 467ms