Fluffy new arrival for Montague Island
The fluffy new Goulds Petrel at Montague Island. Photo: Department of Environment, NSW.
This chirping ball of fluff represents a big moment for Montague Island, nine kilometres off the NSW south coast.
The island, which will be well known to Canberrans who holiday in areas near Narooma, has welcomed the first Goulds Petrel birth in recorded history.
This chick was found safely hatched this month, which NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) puts down to successful weed and pest control programs.
Dr Amy Harris with a Goulds Petrel. Photo: Department of Environment, NSW.
"Goulds Petrels lay a single egg and if the egg is lost, they do not relay that season, so discovering such a healthy chick is a marvellous find," NPWS shorebird recovery coordinator Dr Amy Harris said.
"Pairs are also highly monogamous and will usually return to the same nest site to breed, so we hope this chick will fledge in April and return in a few years when it matures.
"Long term work on Montague Island has eradicated rodents, rabbits and goats here, and we are controlling weeds including kikuyu grass, which entangles burrowing nesting birds like Goulds Petrels."
The island is now the fourth known breeding site for Goulds Petrels, the other three being near Port Stephens on the NSW north coast.
Dr Harris the rehabilitation of Montague Island since the 1980s, when it was declared a nature reserve, was paying off."Clearly the habitat is recovering because in addition to this Goulds Petrel nest, we also found around fifty pairs of White-faced Storm-petrels this season.
"These birds are not endangered, but also had not previously been recorded on the island," Dr Harris said.
Goulds Petrels are the only species ever to be downgraded on the threatened species list from endangered to vulnerable. There are now an estimated 800-1000 pairs, which had decreased to about 200 pairs in the 1990s.