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Big wreck of Broad-Billed Prions

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Old Thursday 14th July 2011, 09:22   #1
flossiepip
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Big wreck of Broad-Billed Prions

The Daily Herald here in New Zealand for thursday 14th, states that a large number of seabirds, mainly Broad-Billed Prions have been washed a shore by one of the many storms to hit the North Island in the last few days. It also says that 2/3 hundred were weak but alive and can be saved.
Its been a bad winter here for storms and walking the beaches near to home here in Northland I have found a few Common Diving Petrals but little else. I know that the osnz run a beach watch scheme, so that the numbers and type of dead seabirds can be reported, I would guess that it will be a very busy time for them.
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Old Thursday 14th July 2011, 09:36   #2
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What an awful shame Flossiepip. It really must be a distressing sight to see.

The BB Prion must be a fairly rare bird, too, as there's not yet a picture of one in the Gallery.

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Old Thursday 14th July 2011, 09:46   #3
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The field guide to seabirds of NZ lists it as locally common, its quite an odd but distinguished looking bird!
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Old Thursday 14th July 2011, 10:01   #4
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Not rare, just hard work to see, hard to positively identify in the field and hard to photograph!
Michael Brooke (Albatrosses and Petrels across the World) estimated there were 15 million of them! They are classified by the IUCN as 'least concern'.
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Old Thursday 14th July 2011, 10:40   #5
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'Hard to positivley identify' It's nice to see that understatement is alive and well . Out of probably hundreds of thousands ( it seemed that way ) of Prions I saw in my year in the Antarctic, plus others since then I'd say I've positively ID'd 20 - 25%. Superb birds - for turning you to drink . I was surprised how many derelicts turn up on NZ beaches each year - no wonder they run a 'Beached Birds Survey'.

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Old Friday 15th July 2011, 03:46   #6
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The two easiest seabirds to identify

Prion sp. and Diving Petrel sp.
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Old Friday 15th July 2011, 08:15   #7
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The two easiest seabirds to identify

Prion sp. and Diving Petrel sp.
So long as you have them in the hand and can take measurements....
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Old Friday 15th July 2011, 13:31   #8
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So long as you have them in the hand and can take measurements....
................ and are satisfied with 51% correct. Maybe!

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Old Saturday 16th July 2011, 13:21   #9
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The Herald has some video footage of the wrecked prions here http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/vi...lery_id=120252

Great looking birds but some sad scenes in the clip.
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Old Saturday 16th July 2011, 22:07   #10
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a lot more info on the BirdingNZ forum http://www.birdingnz.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1282
I've just lifted this excerpt to give an idea of the scale:
Quote:
Blimey. We did three very short beach patrols today. Thom Conroy and I did the mouth of the Manawatu Estuary to the Foxton Surf Club (2 km, taking about 3 hours, as we collected and removed all birds to the dunes). Ian Saville helped with the end of that patrol, then did a quicker 1 km north of the surf club, doing ID and a count but leaving the birds there. To the south, Kyle Morrison and Sarah Jamieson went to Waiterere Beach (8 km south of the Manawatu Estuary) and headed north, only managing 1.5 km but, as you will see below, this poor performance was not through them being slackers. They also removed their birds. So in total we covered a paltry 4.5 km of beach, yet found 1790 dead seabirds (398 birds/km). They were strewn across the tide wrack, under the tide wrack, above the tide wrack, up on the dunes, under logs, buried under 30 cm of sand with just a wingtip showing... The big waves had obviously moved a lot of sand around and it is anybody's guess how many birds were buried without trace. The Waiterere stretch had more birds than the Foxton one - 796 from 1.5 km.

Totals:
Foxton Est-Surf club
Distance (km) - 2
Broad-billed Prion - 647
Antarctic Prion - 5
Salvin's Prion - 21
Fairy Prion - 46
Slender-billed Prion - 1
prion wings - 4
Diving petrel - 8
Unid petrel/shearwater wings - 1
TOTAL - 733
Birds/km - 367

Foxton Surf club N
Distance (km) - 1
Broad-billed Prion - 253
Salvin's Prion - 2
Fairy Prion - 3
Diving petrel - 2
TOTAL - 260
Birds/km - 260

Waiterere Beach
Distance (km) - 1.5
Broad-billed Prion - 730
Salvin's Prion - 15
Fairy Prion - 36
Diving petrel - 4
TOTAL - 796
Birds/km - 531

TOTAL
Distance (km) - 4.5
Broad-billed Prion - 1631
Antarctic Prion - 13
Salvin's Prion - 38
Fairy Prion - 85
Slender-billed Prion - 4
prion wings - 4
Diving petrel - 14
Unid petrel/shearwater wings - 1
TOTAL - 1790
Birds/km - 398

This is, from memory, considerably more Broad-billed Prions than were recorded in the OSNZ Beach Patrol scheme for the wrecks of 1961 and 1974 (or thereabouts), but from just 4.5 km of coast. If these numbers are indicative of numbers along the entire Kapiti-Wanganui coast (~100 km) then we could be talking about 30-40,000 birds visible on the surface just along this section. If the best part of 2000 birds were handed in to bird carers, then these numbers of dead birds seem reasonable, as far more birds must die than are found alive and handed in. Hopefully other patrols are being done in this spell of nice weather and some distances and bird numbers can be reported. It's interesting that no Fairy Prions actually seem to have been handed in to the Massey Vets this week. Maybe they never made it to the beaches alive.

Astounding stuff.
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Old Sunday 17th July 2011, 02:35   #11
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Took a 1/2 mile walk along Baylys beach, Dargaville, Northland this sunday morning and counted a hundred + dead prions. As far as I could tell mostly BBs but some that I would guess were Fairy prions and a few Diving petrels. This is quite a way up from the lower end of the South Island were this wreck was first reported. Also in the dunes was a Giant petrel, the only live bird of the wreck that we saw. Reported this to the local DOC, so hope that it will be safe now!
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Old Sunday 17th July 2011, 06:52   #12
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Originally Posted by Chlidonias View Post
a lot more info on the BirdingNZ forum http://www.birdingnz.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1282
I've just lifted this excerpt to give an idea of the scale:
Scary. Anyone know what the estimated population of Broad-billed Prion is?

And for the love of science please, PLEASE collect as many specimens as you can... So many studies can be done on these birds... And such chances very very rarely present themselves.
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Old Sunday 17th July 2011, 08:58   #13
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Scary. Anyone know what the estimated population of Broad-billed Prion is?
Wiki has it at 15 million
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Old Sunday 17th July 2011, 10:47   #14
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Wiki has it at 15 million
That's 'good' then.
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Old Monday 18th July 2011, 21:44   #15
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I checked out this site on the net, blog.tepapa.govt.nz/.../riders-of-the-storm very good info on the wreck and checking the photo of prion bills against photos that I took, I now see there were a few Antartic prions that washed a shore up here. Did not see it at the time.
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Old Sunday 31st July 2011, 01:40   #16
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I know that the big wreck of prions has come and gone a few weeks now, though you do still find the odd fresh bird washed up.
We did get our first chance to go over to the west coast 30.7.11 and a 1km walk up from Waipu cove showed some 30 dead prions of which only one was a BB, the rest all seemed to be Narrow-Billed. There was also 2 Common Diving Petrels, 7 Fluttering Shearwaters and a little Blue Penguin.
In all the many hundreds of birds from this great wreck that I've looked at, I have not seen one bird that carried a leg ring. It would be interesting to know how many such birds were found?
The last estimate for lost birds that I heard was for around 350/60,000 birds!
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