News and views from the WC Penguin Trust, October 2014
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In this issue ...

Penguin protection fence closed and celebrated!

Closing ceremony to celebrate 2.6km of fencing

It was just the germ of an idea back in 2009, but five years on and the penguin protection fence was celebrated with a closing event on 22nd August. 
Buller Mayor, Garry Howard, kindly stepped in for Damien O'Connor MP at the last minute, and commended the huge effort by the Trust.  Kori the Korora from CLM's SwimMagic programme in Nelson joined the party along with two junior penguins!  With perfect weather, the celebrations were shared with about 60 guests, who enjoyed cake and barbecue with provisions kindly supplied by Countdown.

You'll see the fence along 2.6km of the Coast Road, roughly 9-11km north of Punakaiki. Already, the small amount of vegetation cleared for the installation of the fence is bouncing back with spring growth and the fence is blending in, but more importantly, since the fence was completed, no penguins have been reported killed along that stretch of road.
The fence has been nominated for a WWF conservation innovation award for a number of reasons.  Firstly, wildlife fences are generally installed to keep predators out.  As far as we know, this is the first to keep penguins off a state highway in NZ.  The exposed coastal location meant that specialised materials were required, including the durable geosynthetic mesh from Maccaferri and the galvanised waratahs from Farmlands, both supplied with generous discounts.  Special socks were used on culverts to allow water to flow through while preventing penguins climbing up and finally, one way escape tunnels were incorporated into the fence using old oven racks!  Kiwi genius from our Ranger, Reuben! 
Sadly, we didn't win an award, but we're very proud of the new fence!
For more on the fence, visit our project web page: http://www.bluepenguin.org.nz/pahautane-penguin-fence/
And to read Kori's story of his visit, click here.



 

New Fiordland Crested Penguin Projects

The Trust is leading one and supporting two other new projects to better understand Fiordland crested penguins (tawaki) including threats, ecology and colony location and numbers.
DOC is providing the bulk of the funding for the Trust's tawaki predator monitoring project in South Westland, following a successful bid to the new Community Conservation Partnership Fund earlier this year.  A number of motion activated trail cameras have been deployed in two locations, both the location and the camera function having been chosen to minimise any disturbance to the penguins.
Initial findings indicate the presence of plenty of possums and rats, but the only chick mortality (two) noted during the current breeding season in the survey area appears to be due to natural causes.  More work needs to be done to analyse the data, and we'll report back in another newsletter.
Also during this breeding season, Thomas Mattern and Ursula Ellenberg of Otago University have been tracking the penguins as they feed, and monitoring nest activity with time lapse photography.  They haven't been aware of any predation and they have found that penguin parents don't travel too far when chicks are young, but as they leave their nests and join up with other juvenile birds, known as crèching, the adults will go off on more epic foraging expeditions.
Finally, Robin Long has surveyed some 50km of coastline south of Cascade Point, recording 870 breeding pairs.  She has GPS'd nests and nesting areas so that future monitoring may record any decline in the population.

 
 
KiwiKarma logo and link

Free donations when you travel!

SUPPORT THE TRUST NEXT TIME YOU BOOK YOUR NZ ACCOMMODATION
Do you travel for business or leisure?
Here is a great way you can support our penguin conservation projects, simply by doing what you were going to do anyway.
Next time you travel, please consider booking your accommodation through http://kiwikarma.co.nz/ and please encourage your friends, family and workplace to do the same.
Only on Kiwi Karma can you easily find, compare and book from over 3,100 places nationwide – from backpackers to luxury lodges. The room rates on Kiwi Karma are comparable to, if not better than, all other travel sites. The big difference is that, at no extra cost to you, 3% of the room rate goes to a charity of your choice, and we hope you choose us!
Developing new revenue streams is essential to the Trust, now more than ever, so by booking your accommodation through Kiwi Karma, we've found an easy way for you to help. Your stay will be even more enjoyable knowing you're helping our existing projects to continue and new ones, including world leading research, to get underway.
Check out http://kiwikarma.co.nz/ and enter their latest competition; http://www.kiwikarma.co.nz/competition to win a $1200 weekend in Wellington.

Annual Blue Penguin Census

There was a lower take up on the penguin census this year, perhaps because it came just as that long dry spell of weather broke!
However, the results, which came in via online reporting for the first time this year, covered an impressive distance, from Ngakawau in north Buller down to Haast Beach.  Again, it was challenging to compare this year's results with previous years' data, and there was the usual mix of counts being the same, being greater and being less than last year, with about the same number going up as going down. 
One notable reduction in numbers was seen in the area of the new fence, so we can now hope to see numbers increase in the three colonies there, as no, or at least fewer penguins are killed on the adjacent road.  
Many volunteers noted that erosion had increased over the past 6-12 months, although a couple of comments noted that erosion had stabilised more recently.  Coastal vegetation in some areas around Haast appeared to have been inundated and sea level rise was implicated by the respondent.
In the roughly 2km section I cover, I counted my lowest ever number of tracks last year, just three.  This year, I counted 8, but going out again in early November last year, I counted a phenomenal 95 sets of tracks!  To make sure I wasn't seeing things, I'll be going out again soon. (Editor - Inger)
If you have any interesting news, please let us know! info@bluepenguin.org.nz

Sakura Minato during her dawn census
 

Fundraising on TradeMe - can you help?

We believe that TradeMe could be a great place to list auctions, generate money, and raise awareness of the Trust. TradeMe will donate 50% of success fees back to us and their charities team can help with listings, give us hot tips about what works best, and maybe even help promote our listings.

So ... we need your help!  First of all, we need someone who loves TradeMe, has a bit of time and who would manage auctions on our behalf.  Do you love loading a new auction and seeing it go live?  Do you love the cut and thrust of an auction in its closing stages?  Would you be willing to do it for the Trust?!

The next thing we need are items to auction!  This is where anyone can help!  Do you have something that you don't want or can't use that might raise some money for the Trust?  If you're a business owner, perhaps a voucher. If you're a famous rock star, perhaps an old guitar!  To make it worthwhile for our new volunteer to invest their time, the item would need to be quite special, perhaps where the reserve value might be $75 or $100. 
If you can help, we'd love to hear from you!  info@bluepenguin.org.nz
 

Mortality Database - reporting dead penguins


Don't forget that if you're unfortunate enough to find a dead penguin, or other dead (and unusual) seabird, you can enter the details quickly and easily on our website: http://www.bluepenguin.org.nz/report-a-penguin/.
We hope you don't have to report dead birds, but if you do come across one, it will be great if we can add to and learn more from the mortality database.  This will enable us to focus future action to protect our threatened penguins and other seabirds. Thank you!
Blue penguin - looking to the supporters for help

Join the Trust as an Annual Supporter

We hope you will join the Trust as an Annual Supporter.  Simply make a subscription donation through our Givealittle site, noting annual supporter in the comments box.  Alternatively, print out this Annual Supporter Form and pop it in the post to the Trust.
Annual Fees are: Individual $25, Family $40, Student $10, Life Membership $500.
Regular donations are the lifeblood of any charitable trust and the West Coast Penguin Trust is no exception.  The Trust is looking to its supporters to make small regular donations.   We’d love you to print out the automatic payment form, which would be another way of joining the Trust, complete the amount and frequency of your choice and post it to us.
For corporate/business supporters, the suggested annual donation is $250. We will provide a certificate for you to display, as your staff, clients and customers may be interested to learn of your association with the Trust and may themselves wish to contribute to the Trust’s conservation efforts. 
 

A big thank you to our very generous donors

We'd like to thank our wonderful donors through the newsletter.
Recently, we have received donations from:
  • Heather Muir & John Caygill
  • Mont d'Or Mining
  • Denise Tilling
  • Community Leisure Management
  • Kathleen Browne & Mike Legge
  • Breakers B&B
Supporters and donations are the lifeblood of the Trust, and, if you can help, please donate via direct payment (details here) or credit card payment here.  Thank you so much for your support, however you give it.

 
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