Flora | Fauna | Maintenance
Visits to Makaro and Mokopuna Islands
16/02/2016 | Flora | Fauna | Maintenance | 0
On 8 February 2016, Graeme Taylor, Emma Rowell, Gail Abel and Shane Cotter visited both Makaro (Ward) and Mokopuna (Leper) Island in Wellington Harbour. Transport was provided by Emma Dunning, DOC Ranger, from Matiu/Somes Island.
One of the key purposes of the visit to Makaro was to locate the white faced storm petrel burrow on the top of the island and see if they are still breeding there. After a search of the summit area at the southern end of the island, two burrows were located about half a metre apart. Both were empty, however one had a reasonable amount of down present indicating a chick had fledged from there this season. Without locating the occupant, it is impossible to determine if the burrow was used by a storm petrel or something else i.e. a diving petrel.
White-fronted terns appeared to have bred on the north western corner of the island. All had departed with the exception of one adult and a fully grown chick.
Penguin boxes when located were checked for occupants. None were found to be occupied. Four of these nest boxes had lids left ajar by visitors. These were put back on properly and covered with a rock. Two other boxes had extensive feathers inside indicating they had been used recently by moulting birds.
Spotted skinks and common geckos(?) were seen. In one weta box (with a metal lid just behind the beach) over 30 common geckos were inside. Photographs were taken of one gecko to confirm ID.
The island was very dry and has no natural source of water. This may be the reason why no passerines were seen or heard at all.
Weeds (mallow and bone seed) were pulled out as we traveled around the island. A number of large boxthorn shrubs were observed around the island including regrowth from sprayed plants.
A rubbish collection was completed as well. Approximately one rubbish sack full was collected and removed from the island. This was significantly down on previous years.
Live birds seen on or in the sea around the island included Variable Oystercatchers, Black-backed Gulls, White-fronted Terns, Spotted Shags and a Pied Shag and Gannet.
Quite a few visitors were ashore today but all were using the shoreline for recreational activities.
As we arrived on the beach at Mokopuna, a single royal spoonbill was present on the ridge above it. This is not the first time they have been seen there but a strange island bird all the same. Also hiding under a rock on the beach was a half grown oystercatcher chick.
There was a large black swan nest in the middle of the beach. One egg remained in it but the birds and any chicks had departed. One Canada goose egg was also located on the island.
We undertook similar activity on this island. Penguin boxes when located were checked for occupants. Two were found to be occupied and a third penguin was moulting in the cave. The lids on these nest boxes were all intact, except for one box.
A reasonable number of spotted shags are nesting on the north eastern corner of the island.
Weeds (mallow, karo and bone seed) were pulled out as we traveled around the island. The mallow had grown quite large on Mokopuna. It would be useful to keep pulling this on annual basis.
Some planted trees were surviving while others were struggling to exist. One nikau was still alive (just). One mahoe, two 5 finger, two melicytus obovatus and a few ngaio were also observed on the way to the summit. Plantings on the exposed tops were mostly unsuccessful. Ngaio and toetoe seem to have done well on the southern side near the island sign.
A rubbish collection was completed but very little rubbish was located.
Live birds seen on or in the sea around the island included Variable Oystercatchers, Black-backed Gulls, Spotted Shags, a Royal Spoonbill, Kakariki, a Blackbird and several Little Blue Penguins.