New reports on ruru nesting and Island conservation

Date posted: 02-Oct-2017

Two new reports have been added to the website. The first gives details of a summer students..

2018 calendars now available

Date posted: 27-Sep-2017

Our latest calendar, beautifully illustrated with images taken on the Island, is now available fo..

Guided walks for photographers

Date posted: 21-Jun-2017

For a wonderful day of wildlife photography please join us on Tiritiri Matangi Island for a Ph..

Ferry discounts for Supporters

Date posted: 18-May-2017

Tiritiri Matangi Island, the perfect winter's day trip. The birds are at their best, warm up w..

More kiwi for the Island

Date posted: 04-Apr-2017

In 1993 and 1995, sixteen little spotted kiwi were released on Tiritiri Matangi Island. The ma..

2017 Photo Competition

Date posted: 22-Mar-2017

It is that time of year again when we are looking for entries for our photo competition (and phot..

The 2017 concert

Date posted: 05-Feb-2017

This year's concert promises to be another wonderful and unique experience. Click here (/concert-..

Shorebird Film Festival at Devonport

Date posted: 26-Oct-2016

Click here (/miscellaneous documents/DevWaderFilms.jpg) for details of a forthcoming film festival c..

Extra Dawn Chorus Trip

Date posted: 20-Oct-2016

Stop Press: Extra Dawn Chorus trip now scheduled for Thursday 27th October 2016. ..

2016 AGM

Date posted: 06-Sep-2016

The 2016 AGM was held at the Kohia Centre at 7:30 pm on Monday 19th September. Click here (/..

Gannet

Scientific name:

 Morus serrator

Maori Name:

 Takapu

 

 

Conservation status:

 Not threatened

Mainland status:

 Locally common 

Size:

 89cm, 2.3kg

Lifespan:

 Oldest recorded over 30 years

Breeding:

 July - January

Diet:

 Small fish and squid


The Australasian gannet is a large seabird of about 89cm in length and weighing nearly 2.5 kg. It is mainly white, with a buff yellow head, and black trailing edges to its wings; the central tail feathers are also black. The juvenile is  spotted above (grey/brown) with brownish streaks below. The adult plumage takes about three years to develop.

Gannets feed mainly on small fish and some squid taken from deep waters or harbours and estuaries. They dive vertically from heights of up to 30m, entering the water at tremendous speed. They have inflatable air sacs beneath the skin on the lower neck and breast that act as shock absorbers as they enter the water.

Gannets range widely in NZ seas during winter but return to their breeding sites around June/July. The nests are made within close proximity of other nests, out of seaweed and guano. They usually lay just one egg, incubated for 44 days by both sexes. The chicks fledge at between 13 and 17 weeks old, when they fly across the Tasman Sea to Australian waters. They remain there until they reach breeding age at between three and seven years old (usually five), when they return to their breeding colonies to breed for the first time. There is a lot of chattering in a gannet colony, but away from the breeding site the birds are normally silent. Muriwai, on the west coast near Auckland, is the mainland colony closest to Tiritiri Matangi. Pairs can stay together for several years.

On Tiritiri Matangi gannets can often be seen from the wharf area and from the East Coast Track, diving for food in the waters close to the Island. From 2011, efforts have been made to attract gannets to Motuora Island, north of Tiritiri Matangi. Breeding was first attempted there in 2013. 

Learn more about the Australian gannet at New Zealand Birds Online.


 Photography by: Peter Craw ©(left) and by Dr Kerry Rodgers © (right)


References: Heather, B.D.; Robertson, H.A. 2000 The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, Viking.