Tahiti Petrel landing on Gau

A Tahiti Petrel landed in Nawaikama, the 2nd ever record from Gau.

In mid-December, a young, probably recently fledged Tahiti Petrel landed in Nawaikama village on Gau’s west coast. It was reported by villagers to the Fiji Petrel Project and Poasa Qalo and Amania Taukei went straight to the village and undertook all the measurements and photographs necessary for a good record of the bird. With the help of this data, we know that the bird is almost certainly a recently fledged young.

A young Tahiti Petrel being measured, weighed, banded and then released
A young Tahiti Petrel being measured, weighed, banded and then released

The big question is ” Did it fledge from a nest on Gau or had it fledged from a nest on Taveuni where we know there is a large colony of Tahiti Petrels ?” The Fiji Petrel Project found a cat-killed Tahiti Petrel carcass ashore on Gau in the mid 1980s but none have been seen since despite many thousands of hours of spotlighting and searching. So it remains a bit of a mystery.

In the meantime, NatureFiji-MareqetiViti is happy to announce the availability of two very important project reports from the Fiji Petrel Project.

The first ” Age of 3 Fiji Petrels” is an analysis of the age of the January 2009 specimen, October 2011 and November 2011 landing and released birds. The conclusion is that the 29 October 2011 bird was a fledgling, the 30 November 2011 bird was a sub-adult and the January 2009 bird remains uncertain but may well have been a fledgling.

This is a seminal paper for the Fiji Petrel Project because the authors (three of the world’s top petrel specialists – Dr Paul Scofield, Dr Graeme Taylor and Dr. Alan Tennyson) have provided an important guide for ageing petrels in the field.

We are very grateful for their assistance.

The significance of this work is that it enables the Fiji Petrel Project to focus its seach work in those months when we know the species is breeding.