Gould’s petrels breeding on Broughton Island

For the first time in a decade, Gould’s petrels have bred on Broughton Island in Myall Lakes National Park.

It comes after a pest removal program on the island and the installation of nest boxes and speakers which play petrel calls. The breeding success is seen as a positive sign for the future of the threatened Gould’s petrel species.

Broughton Island is part of the Myall Lakes National Park in the Barrington Coast.

(Story courtesy on ABC.net.au 16 Feb 2020)

The successful breeding of the threatened species comes after a long-term conservation project which started with the removal of pests on the island by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) more than 10 year ago.

NPWS ranger Susanne Callaghan was among those who recently discovered the chick in one of the island’s specially-installed nest boxes.

“So essentially two adults have done the deed in one of our artificial nest boxes, which is really fabulous, they have incubated the egg adequately and we’ve had a chick hatch on the island,” Ms Callaghan said.

“It’s really exciting after more than a decade’s worth of work.”

The work started in 2009 when the NPWS eradicated all the vertebrate pests off the island including house mice, rats, and rabbits.

“They were having a huge impact on the ecology of the island and particularly seabird habitat and their ability to breed,” Ms Callaghan said.

“In the 10 years since, the island has been recovering. Seabird habitat has been slowly expanding and the vegetation changing.”

The second step in the process was the installation in 2017 of nest boxes and large solar-powered speakers on the island.

The speakers play recordings of Gould’s petrels and white-faced storm petrels each night in a bid to lure the birds in to breed.

“We thought about assisting the process and knew Gould’s petrels were in low numbers on the island, so we put in the sound system which plays their calls with nest boxes nearby,” Ms Callaghan said.

“It was a slow start. Nothing realty happened for a year or so.

“Last year we had adult birds utilising the nest boxes, which was really exciting, and then this year we’ve gone an extra step and have adults utilising the nest boxes and producing a successful chick.”

The conservation project has been a collaboration between the NPWS, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, the Hunter Bird Observers Club, and Birdlife Australia, and was supported through funds raised during the 2016 Twitchathon.

Mick Roderick of Birdlife Australia and the Hunter Bird Observers Club said the evidence of Gould’s petrels breeding on Broughton Island was an encouraging sign for the future of the species.

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