Bright future for albatross chicks

Each day on the Chathams dawned in the usual manner – ferocious howlers and churned up seas – and day by day, this never-ending storm slowly chipped away at our hopes of executing a NZ first – an albatross translocation.

We were hoping to transfer 30 threatened Chatham Island albatross chicks to a specially protected site on the Main Island from a rock islet called The Pyramid in order to create a second colony.

The pyramid

The pyramid

It is the second time an albatross translocation has ever been done in the world, so let’s just say our nerves were getting rather frazzled.

In typical Murphy’s Law fashion, as soon as we were ready for the birds, it started to blow violently…..and didn’t stop for two weeks!

Finally at the end of January, our window appeared, and we set sail. Three years planning, three months full time preparation and a month’s hard graft had come to fruition. It was transfer day!

A team of 12, mostly local Chatham Islanders, went down to collect the birds. They landed amongst the bull kelp on the steep rock stack before climbing up amongst the breeding albatross.

Tough landing

Tough landing

Chicks where weighed and only those which fitted the weight criteria were selected, banded, and boxed up in purpose-built transfer boxes.

The birds were carefully carried and transferred to the waiting fishing boat by zodiac. As the day progressed the weather worsened, and conditions became rougher.

Robin and Jason Seymour did an amazing job driving the zodiac in what ended up being challenging conditions and all birds were soon safely on-board.

 

albatross2

Special delivery

Once we were all back on board, it was a time to reflect on what we had achieved. The first batch of chicks had been successful collected – a history making moment.

Ruka Lanauze skippered us back to Point Gap were the birds were off loaded at the Tuku Rivermouth, and moved to their new colony.

Now several days later the birds are well settled at the new colony, each on their own artificial nest, with decoy adult albatross to help make the site look like an active albatross colony.

 

The albatross chicks settle happily into their new home.

The albatross chicks settle happily into their new home.

Each day we head out to the colony and feed them, half a kilo of fish and squid each a day! First we fed them with large syringes and now we just slip fish down their gullets.

So far the translocation has gone well; the birds have been amazing and are taking everything in their stride. It is a pleasure to sit at the colony and watch them after they have been feed, sleeping off their big meal.

The Taiko Trust would love to thank everyone who has helped so far, and to stay abreast of developments follow us at www.facebook.com/chathamtaikotrust

This albatross transfer was made possible – in part – due to a Birdlife International grant.  http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/what-we-do/partnerships/birdlife-international

To see a video of the transfer, see here – http://vimeo.com/85167666

 

Happy times

Happy times

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5 Comments

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  1. February 5, 2014 4:58 pm
    Catherine Cheung says

    This is great news and very interesting. Love that photo with the chicks and model adults. Can someone explain a bit about the background of the project please? e.g. Where are the adults? Were the chicks hatched in an incubator and taken to the island? If so, where did the eggs come from? …

  2. February 7, 2014 10:15 am
    Sylvie says

    Very interesting and heart-warming project to those who love nature. A big thank you to all involved !!
    I am also wondering what happened to the parents and whether they do not get very distressed about their disappearing chicks?
    regards
    Sylvie

  3. February 13, 2014 11:18 am
    Wendy Harper says

    Oh my – that is such an amazing story. I feel for the parent birds whose chicks were chicknapped, but I love the story and the plan.

  4. February 14, 2014 8:21 am
    Susannah MacDonald says

    What a wonderful project. Great news for the albatross and for humans alike.

  5. February 28, 2014 5:02 pm
    Theresa W. says

    This is such a lovely story. The photo at the end is to die for — those chicks look so happy on their bespoke nests!

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