Posted on 09th December, 2020

Mfdc1999 Gannet

Watch this video and you will see that something very exciting has been happening out on the Taurawhata headland recently. The decoy gannet colony has been getting a friendly visitor for over a month now. This yet to be named fella seems to be very keen on a few of our lovely looking lady birds even if they keep giving him a cold wing.

It is a hopeful ‘long shot’ to get an established gannet colony here on the mainland, but having a visitor hanging out like this guy recently, is at least saying we’re on the right track.

Gannets have a territorial radius and a new colony wouldn’t be allowed but this one on the Taurawhata headland will be a sub colony from the gannets on the sugar loaf out at the Poor Knights.

It is a seemingly perfect (to humans) location for a gannet colony as they need to be able to fly into the wind to land, whatever the direction and has a nice gentle slope right on the cliff top of the nearest mainland point to the Poor Knights. What the Tawapou Conservation trust in going for is translocation by socialisation using sound and decoys. This decoy colony has 16ish birds in it and a large speaker system set up with 24hr gannet chat. For about a year the recordings were from a East cape colony which is completely the wrong dialect for us here in the north! A few decoy birds even suffered attacks from the locals because of this, they must have been saying some very inappropriate bird jokes. The recordings out there now have come straight from the Poor Knights so this could be a factor in why there is this new visitor. This guy is most likely a returnee from a 5-6 year OE in South Australia. These kinds of gannets will be the ones to hopefully establish this new sub colony as the older ones already have their prime real estate on the Sugar loaf. It will be very difficult to establish a new sub colony as they learn their parenting skills and behaviour from their elders. Why not try though? They are not a threatened bird species but are iconic and important to our ecosystems. With this prime location and some very passionate volunteers there's no reason not to keep going with this project to re-establish a colony here on Northlands east coast. Fingers crossed for a lady bird arrival next year.