Thursday, September 23, 2021

A census of nesting pairs of the endemic New Zealand king shag (Leucocarbo carunculatus) in 2016 and 2017

TitleA census of nesting pairs of the endemic New Zealand king shag (Leucocarbo carunculatus) in 2016 and 2017
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsSchuckard, R, Bell, M, Frost, P, Taylor, G, Greene, T
Type of ArticleFull article
Keywordsaerial census, breeding population, Leucocarbo carunculatus, Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand King Shag

Following an initial aerial census of breeding New Zealand king shags (Leucocarbo carunculatus) in 2015, 2 further aerial censuses were carried out in 2016 and 1 census in 2017. In 2016, birds were photographed on 2 separate dates using a hand-held camera from inside a fixed wing aircraft. In 2017 the birds were photographed from a fixed-wing plane equipped with an automated camera system mounted below the aircraft. Photographs were independently assessed by 3 observers in 2016 and 2 observers in 2017. Nesting pairs were identified and the figures were averaged per colony for a final estimate of the number of active nests. The first census for 2016 was completed on 6 June and 89 active nests were estimated, compared with 117 nests counted on 1 July. For some colonies, breeding appeared to have just started in June 2016, so an underestimate of active breeders during the first aerial census was the probable cause. The 2017 aerial census was completed on 21 June and we identified 153 active nests. All follow up aerial surveys in 2016 and 2017 were well below the 187 active nests recorded in the 2015 study but within the historic variation. The exception to this trend is Trio Island, where no breeding colony was observed in 2017, the first time this has been recorded at this site.

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