News and views from the WC Penguin Trust, August 2015
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We're gearing up for another great season!

In this issue:
We'd love it if you would make a donation as, with a little help from friends like you, we are making a big difference for the West Coast penguins and other threatened seabirds. Givealittle link
Not only does it mean we can do more because of your contribution, but donations also count when seeking sponsorship and grants, so your donation is likely to be multiplied and regular donations can achieve even more!
Thank you!

New penguin protection fence for Seal Island

With the huge success of the Pahautane penguin protection fence north of Punakaiki, we applied the same idea at Seal Island to protect the colony there.

Through cold wet days last month, Ranger Reuben Lane has installed a new 350m penguin protection fence near Seal Island with a gate for us humans and escape hatches for penguins should they be caught on the wrong side of the fence. 
Penguins were reported to have been killed at this corner last year and in previous years and this measure should protect this small colony of blue penguins. 
This fence project was made possible by a grant from the Department of Conservation West Coast Mining Compensation Fund - thank you DOC!

Fiordland crested penguin project - results and plans

After many frustrating hours, reviewing thousands of images and video clips, mostly of penguins preening, Trust Chair, Kerry-Jayne Wilson, and Robin Long have put together a short report summarising findings and lessons learned from the first season of Fiordland crested penguin monitoring at Jackson Head and around Gorge River, which you can read here:
Tawaki project progress report, May 2015
Of the various nests being monitored with 18 cameras, including locations from dense vegetation to open habitats and caves, we found that one stoat attacked and killed a juvenile penguin but no other predation was observed.  A few stoats and numerous possums were seen visiting penguin nests, but the penguins did not appear unduly concerned, as in the image below from October last year.

The first season's work has allowed the fine tuning of the operation, both the locating of cameras and managing batteries and memory cards, as well as setting cameras for stills and/or video and reviewing data more effectively. 
Kerry-Jayne and Reuben will be heading down to Jackson Head and Gorge River later this month with the help of Geoff Robson and his Greenstone Helicopters.  They will be setting up cameras for the coming breeding season and this year will be using 6V rechargeable batteries as opposed to 4 x rechargeable AA batteries.  The cameras are designed for the AAs, but we found that there wasn't always enough charge to run the video.  Once the camera has been triggered for a still image by some movement, a 30 second video would then capture the action to inform us about penguin and predator behaviour.
This project is funded for three years by DOC's Community Conservation Partnership Fund, which, through collaboration with local DOC staff and penguin scientist Dr Thomas Mattern, and support from Greenstone Helicopters, has helped us to add to the very limited knowledge about Fiordland crested penguins, thought to be the second rarest and most enigmatic penguin in the world.

Alert for South Westland
As so little is known about Fiordland crested penguins and as the cause of their decline is unclear, if you find a dead or sick bird, please report it or deliver it to DOC in Haast as soon as possible (03 750 0809).  If alive, it can be given the best chance of survival, and any dead birds can be sent to Massey for autopsy.
Thank you.

Leading Light Awards Winner - Twice!

We knew we were up against excellent competition so we were surprised and delighted to be named Leading Light in both the not for profit category (for the second time), sponsored by Westland Milk Products, and the brand new environment category, sponsored by DOC. 
Being named as a finalist is a huge benefit for the Trust as, not only do we receive coverage in the Messenger, further raising awareness about penguins and our work, but we receive a new and very professional Trust video.  Dave Kwant, West Coast Film, and our old friend Robyn Janes produced the video, which was played to a packed audience during the awards at Shantytown.  You can view it here.
Holcim, a key contender for the environment award and our long term supporter, was named Supreme Winner for 2015.  We were delighted that their environmental work at their Cape Foulwind site has been recognised and it was a great opportunity to meet more of their team.

Kerry-Jayne Wilson with Lou Sanson, DOC's Director-General

Penguin tracking at sea jointly with Te Papa

Following our small pilot study in 2013, when we tagged a few blue penguins at Charleston with tiny GPS recorders and started learning about their foraging trips, we will be joining forces with Dr Susan Waugh of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa to collaborate in a three site study during the coming breeding season. 
In addition to our project in Charleston, Te Papa will be monitoring blue penguins as they forage from sites in the Marlborough Sounds and Wellington.  One concern that the Trust had was sourcing the expertise to analyse the data.  Through our collaboration with Te Papa, we not only have access to that expertise, but the three site study will enable comparison and a greater understanding of the marine ecology of blue penguins in these areas. 
It's a very exciting opportunity for the Trust and we'll keep you posted as it develops.
We're very grateful for the interest in and support for the project by Mont d'Or Mining (based in Ross).

Update on Wellington penguins

During the summer, two nationally endangered Fiordland crested penguins were flown to Wellington Zoo's 'The Nest' for specialist avian veterinary care.
The first, Gari, now thought to have been attacked by a barracouta, has had several operations and seems to have withstood all this remarkably well.  Unfortunately, her wound and operation sites have not repaired sufficiently to become waterproof, so she will remain at Wellington Zoo until he can be released, enjoying the ready meals, personal swimming pool and the company of the other tawaki, Henry.
Gari and Henry tawaki recovering at The Nest

Giselle draws for us

Be one of the first to display a penguin bumper sticker!

We thought that bumper stickers might be a fun way to raise awareness and we were very fortunate to find Giselle Clarkson, who has very kindly designed us a beautiful bumper sticker featuring our two penguins, korora and tawaki.   
Giselle is a graphic artist with a conservation background having been a volunteer with DOC on Raoul Island.  Her website Giselle Draws is full of her lovely designs including a large section of native birds.
We'd like the bumper stickers to be seen along the length of the West Coast, so if you would like to display one, we'd be delighted to get one to you for a minimum donation of $5.  (The first bundle of stickers were funded by a grant from Pub Charity and we're requesting a small donation so that we can buy more.)  They are rather splendid at 28cm x 7.5cm and will look great on any vehicle!

Post your donation to us at PO Box 63, Hokitika 7842 including your address (cheques payable to West Coast Penguin Trust), or make a donation online with a note of your address in the comment box.  We look forward to seeing them adorning your car or truck!

Cobden penguin sanctuary

Cobden School children have been finding out about blue penguins and discovering that they live close by.  With support and encouragement from Grey District Mayor, Tony Kokshoorn, the whole school came down to the beach and lagoon to learn about the local wildlife with the Trust and with DOC. 

During a rainy follow up visit, a small group of students accompanied Guardians of Paroa stalwart, Bill Johnson, to install nest boxes for blue penguins.  They learned more about the needs of penguins, the threats to them and what they can do to help, especially sharing information within their community about the presence of penguins and the threats posed by loose dogs as well as vehicles.  They promised to go back to school and share the experience with their class mates.

The hopes are that, with threats to them reduced, the very few penguins that may be around will multiply, and that the Cobden Aromahana Sanctuary will become something of a penguin sanctuary!  Bill will keep an eye on the nest boxes and, if they are used, we have told the children that they might be able to visit in the second or third year of occupation.

Connecting with schools

We have had a busy few months since the launch of our wonderful education resource.  The printed version was supplied to all schools, youth groups and other youth leaders and educators on the coast that we could find - if we missed one, please let us know!  In addition, it has been downloaded from our website over 70 times for use around the country.
We have visited Haast School and Barrytown School, we've been out with Karoro Kidsfirst and Grey Main School as well as Cobden School mentioned above, we've seen crafty penguins made by Hokitika Primary School children and we have presented a workshop at St Canice's in Westport with 15 participants from St Canice's, Granity School, Buller High School and DOC. 

Two further workshops are planned for Greymouth and Hokitika Schools in December.  At the workshops, our wonderful educator, Zoe Watson, with support from Ranger Reuben, explains how the teachers can make the most of the new education resource, from learning about penguins all the way through to taking action to help protect them. 
Great feedback was received after the Westport event including "Good interactive workshop with practical activities", "Thank you – a most worthwhile course (loved the food too, thank you)" and "Good having Reuben’s input, especially with his knowledge about local penguins".  We look forward to connecting with more schools through the December workshops.  (If you'd like to be on the invitation list, please email Inger.)

The Trust's education work is generously being supported by TrustPower/Rotary Lendahand, Scotlands Te Kiteroa Fund, the Sargood Bequest and Holcim.

Help us with the penguin mortality database

If you find, or hear of someone finding, a dead penguin or unusual seabird, please let us know with an email or via our simple online report form.
The database has been instrumental in switching focus from predators to vehicles and installing the new penguin protection fences.  The information continues to inform our work, so please let us know about any sad discoveries of dead penguins or unusual seabirds.  Thank you.


Protect penguins when booking accommodation

We're excited to announce that KiwiKarma will now donate a wonderful 5% of any online booking you make through their website!  Their service is supported by TradeMe's BookIt system and should meet every NZ accommodation need you, your family and your friends might have.  
When making your booking, simply select us at the end of the short booking process.  This is a great opportunity to help us at no cost to you and we need to make the most of it!  Don't forget there are no booking or credit card fees; please share this with everyone you know!  Thank you!
PS - They offer great competitions and the current one offers the chance to win a trip to Disneyland worth over $10,000!


A big thank you to our wonderful donors

We would like to say thank you to our wonderful donors and members through the newsletter.  Recently we have received donations from:
  • Rona Spencer
  • James Winnington
  • Kim Free
  • Denise Tilling
  • Denise Mayes
  • Michael Humphries
  • Daniel Beetham
Supporters and donations are the lifeblood of the Trust, and, if you can help or would like to join, please donate via direct payment or regular giving (details here) or fee free credit card payment here. 
We still have donation boxes available, so if you have a business where visitors might like the opportunity to make a donation, please email Inger.

Thank you so much for your support, whether subscribing to our email list or contributing dollars as well.

Sponsor Feature - New Zealand Travel Inc.

The Trust is fortunate to have received regular contributions from Donna Thomas and her company, New Zealand Travel Inc, based in the USA. 
They make a donation to the Trust for every passenger they send to New Zealand for one of their varied and carefully planned holidays, and they are passionate about promoting the natural values and the wonderful people of NZ. 
Guiding their generosity is a lovely quote: "One act of kindness creates a ripple that goes on forever." 
Thank you to Donna and New Zealand Travel Inc.!

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