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A new year, a new bird!

A new seabird species has chosen The Noises as its home. The Cook’s petrel (Tītī) has been found breeding on Ōtata Island.

In November 2020, seabird experts Dr Matt Rayner (Auckland Museum) and Dr Gaia Dell’Ariccia (Auckland Council) discovered a burrow containing an adult bird incubating an egg. A further check last week revealed that the egg successfully hatched, and the burrow now contains a very fluffy, healthy-looking chick!

This is incredible news, as the northern subspecies of Cook’s Petrel currently breed only on predator-free Hauturu (Little Barrier Island), and also on Aotea (Great Barrier Island) where most nests are lost to rat predation.

The expansion of Cook’s petrel breeding to The Noises provides an additional predator-free breeding site for this endemic species. It also expands the number of burrowing seabirds breeding on The Noises to at least five and reinforces the ecological importance of the Noises islands as a biodiversity hotspot in the inner Hauraki Gulf.

Auckland Council (via the Natural Environment Target Rate) have funded a 10-year seabird monitoring and research programme, with the aim to improve the protection and restoration of Auckland seabirds.  Further surveys of the breeding burrows at The Noises are planned for March. The Noises Trust gratefully acknowledge the work of seabird specialists at Auckland Council and Auckland Museum.

Image credits Dr Gaia Dell’Ariccia and Joseph Neureuter.

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