25 Jul 2017

Albatross colony cut off by wild weather

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 1:27 pm on 25 July 2017
Two albatross with their sick chick at the Otago sanctuary.

Two albatross with their sick chick at the Otago sanctuary. Photo: Supplied

Albatross chicks were left to fend for themselves on a windswept clifftop after a series of slips near Dunedin.

Five chicks at Taiaroa Heads could not be fed by Department of Conservation staff because the road to the albatross colony was cut off by the weekend storm.

The birds nest at the only mainland albatross colony in the southern hemisphere.

Taiaroa Heads operations' manager Hoani Langsbury managed to reach the birds on Tuesday.

The chicks appeared to have weathered the storm.

''There was no problem getting here by boat.

''We've taken a walk up the road just to check out the slips and I think they're reparable in a reasonably short time frame.

''It'll mean that the Otago Peninsula Trust and DOC staff that need to get here every day to look after the wildlife will boat across until the road's open for us.''

Department biodiversity ranger Jim Watts said the chicks were weighed and some were underweight.

Adult albatrosses had arrived back at the colony at the weekend but one chick may have lost a parent.

''We just want to get in there and check on that bird and maybe step in to be the parent for it.''

Staff also planned to check on the colony of little penguins, popularly known as little blue penguins.

***

After speaking with Jesse Mulligan Hoani Langsbury emailed the programme to update the situation.

Just to update you we found a pair of Little Penguins dead in their home (nest box) which was covered in sand and mud.  We are hoping these are the only fatalities for wildlife at Pukekura.

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