We're only part way into the breeding season but there's lots going on!

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TradeMe fundraiser auction closes 2 Oct

Te Waonui Forest RetreatDo you fancy treating yourself or some friends to a dinner and night of luxury at the 5 star Te Waonui Forest Retreat in Franz Josef?  You could do that while supporting the Trust!  This fabulous hotel has kindly donated a voucher for half board for two and we're trying TradeMe charity auctions to make the most of this generosity.  Get your bid in now; there's not much time left!

2015 blue penguin census

Luke and Adam Garside point out penguin tracks during an earlier censusThe census this year will take place a little later, 9-12 October, when there is likely to be more blue penguin activity.  This is a great opportunity to get out for an early morning walk on your stretch of beach and see whether, and if so, how many, penguins might have made the trip out to sea that morning.
All you need is here: http://www.bluepenguin.org.nz/blue-penguin-census/

DOC approve funding

Associate Conservation Minister, Nicky Wagner, meets the TrustWe are delighted and not a little relieved that our application to DOC's Community Conservation Partnerships Fund was approved.  The Associate Conservation Minister, Nicky Wagner, made the announcement a week ago, when she met a team from the Trust.  She was impressed at the long list of projects underway and planned and there will be more about those in this and future newsletters. Read more here: http://www.bluepenguin.org.nz/news/2319/#more-2319

Craig Potton's 'Penguin Encounters'

Craig Potton's emporer penguinsCraig Potton is the Trust's patron and probably New Zealand's best loved photographer, conservationist, publisher and all round good guy.  He has kindly agreed to present an illustrated talk of his many encounters with penguins around the Southern hemisphere as a fundraiser for the Trust.  Put Friday 27th November in your diary for an excellent evening at the Hokitika Regent theatre, including a complementary glass of wine from Peter Yealands or a beer from Monteiths.  Tickets will be $20 ($10 for <16s).  Craig will also be presenting a photography masterclass on Saturday 28th November for just 20 participants (tickets $125).  More details about both events will be on our website and facebook page very soon.

Blue penguin monitoring

Blue penguin tucked into a rocky nest, July 2015In preparation for the GPS foraging study, blue penguin monitoring began again at the end of July and Ranger Reuben reported that there were many old established pairs that had moved in and claimed their old burrows.  It is important to know which penguins are settled and breeding to have the confidence that any disturbance will not mean burrow, egg or chick abandonment, before selecting penguins for the GPS study.

GPS foraging study

GPS track from a Charleston blue penguin, Sept 2015We have recently started our foraging study, tracking blue penguins from Charleston using tiny GPS units as they swim out to sea to feed.  We're very excited to have the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa as our partner in this study and we have sent up our first couple of GPS units for review.  One of them showed that the penguin swam 55km to forage while its partner incubated their eggs. This is a much longer trip than we were seeing in 2013 while chicks were being fed.  We're very grateful for the financial support of the JS Watson Trust and Mont d'Or Mining, which has made the study possible.

Bird of the Year

Tawaki on Open Bay IslandForest & Bird's "Bird of the Year" kicks off on 5 October and the West Coast Penguin Trust is promoting and campaigning for the Fiordland crested penguin - the tawaki.  This handsome bird with its broad yellow eyebrow strip is one of New Zealand’s often forgotten but very precious birds.  It is thought to be the second or third rarest penguin in the world, its range only extending from Stewart Island up to South Westland, although it’s likely that its range was once far greater and probably extended throughout the West Coast.
Those people who have been fortunate to encounter a tawaki describe a confident penguin that goes about its business with style.  Tawaki have a big appetite for fish and an even bigger appetite for life and the word feisty could have been invented for them. 
So when it opens on 5 October, please go to the F&B website and vote for our special penguin and perhaps consider making a donation to the West Coast Penguin Trust to support our work to ensure tawaki survive and thrive.

Poor breeding season for tawaki

Leon Dalziel installing camera Sept 2015Our bird of the year is also the subject of two studies, both in their second year.  The Trust is collaborating with Drs Thomas Mattern and Ursula Ellenberg from Otago University in their ecology and foraging research through their 'tawaki project'. Their website has some wonderful photographs and insights into penguin life at Jackson Head.  Our predator camera monitoring project is also well advanced for this breeding season and we'll be reporting on the results in the next few months. In the meantime, Trustees Kerry-Jayne and Leon have recently been down to Jackson Head to work with Thomas and Ursula, re-setting some of the cameras and retrieving data.  In contrast with last season's very high breeding success, this year it seems that El Niño conditions have hit tawaki especially hard, with extensive breeding failure, underweight chicks and parents making long foraging trips to feed chicks less often than last year.  It is also reported that El Niño conditions have impacted on other West Coast seabirds.

National red-billed gull survey

Red-billed gullNumbers of the national population of the red-billed gull appear to be in decline, although the birds are still common.  Birds New Zealand in association with the Department of Conservation is undertaking a national survey of their distribution and numbers.  If you know of or locate breeding red-billed gulls this Spring or Summer please report your observations to Peter Frost at birds.wanganui@osnz.org.nz. Phase 2 of the survey starts this October and there are a dozen sites on the West Coast that need surveying.  If you are interested in the findings from Phase 1, when many sites known in 1965 were revisited and new colonies recorded, or if you'd like to consider participating in this year's survey, all the information is available here.

Thank you!

As always, we'd like to say a big thank you to our donors, including the following over the past couple of months:

Deborah CardenGivealittle logo and link to donate
Andrzej Suchanski and Jess Reedy
and our wonderful regular donors Daniel Beetham, Michael Humphries, N Bishop and Kim Free.

We're also grateful to DOC for enabling diversion payments for whitebait offences to be shared among local conservation charities including the West Coast Penguin Trust.

We are especially indebted to our sponsors and recently Holcim and Mont d'Or Mining have been generous in providing repeat sponsorship. 

Holcim logoAs Coasters will know, Holcim are preparing to wind down their cement operation at Cape Foulwind.  They are doing the best they can for their staff and the environment at the site.  We applaud their investment in this regard and look forward to maintaining close ties in the future.

And finally, you can help us ...

By sharing this newsletter
By participating in the census
By bidding on our auction
By making a donation, or even better becoming a regular donor
By displaying one of our new bumper stickers here on the coast.  For a minimum donation of $10, we'll send you a beautiful sticker.  Include your address with the donation or email info@bluepenguin.org.nz, or post a cheque with details to PO Box 63, Hokitika 7842.
Penguin bumper stickerThank you!

Copyright © 2015 West Coast Penguin Trust, All rights reserved.

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