Wild For Taranaki

A well deserved rest

It’s official. Summer is over. The mounga has had its first dusting of snow, the beaches are emptying and for the Ngā Motu Marine Reserve Society kororā monitoring team, it’s been a time to celebrate the departure of the last fledgling from the monitoring site. 

It was an auspicious end to the season as the last chick to set off was the offspring of Whati, an adult well known to the team. The moment of departure was captured on the security cameras set up at the colony.  

This time of year is when adult kororā transition from full-time chick rearing to some “me-time” – in the form of moulting. Kororā undergo what’s known as a “catastrophic moult”  during which they lose the entirety of their feathers and re-grow a new set over a short period. Their feathers serve as protection against the elements in numerous ways.  Temperature regulation – ensuring the birds don’t get too hot or too cold. Waterproofing – the feathers create a layer of waterproofing and warmth by trapping a layer of air next to the bird’s skin. And for the colour of the feathers? Iridescent blue on their backs and bright white on their fronts. There are a few theories around its function. Heat absorption and social signaling to name but a few.  

All this means that, during the moulting process, adults are restricted to land. Perhaps this is a blessed retreat from the world and after a busy breeding season or just a slightly cold and hungry chapter in their life? Regardless, it is a time when the animals are particularly vulnerable. Staying in a single spot for consecutive days and nights makes them a target for dog attacks. So, dogs on leads please! 

With the departure of the last chick, the NMMRS team’s work will be quieter until July when the adults will return to the nesting sites for nest building and mating. If you’d like to find out more or get involved in this project or others around the region, follow this link to the regional Projects (LINK) page. 

A huge congratulations from us all to the team for that they’ve accomplished this year!