After a year of plaintive calling from the cliff tops a plan to recreate a gannet colony on the Tutukaka
Coast is about to get a tune up.
A model gannet colony of specially imported, fibreglass gannet replicas has been built on the
southern end of Taurawhata headland with a solar powered sound system blasting out a cacophony
of gannet calls. But so far no passing gannets have been enticed into the would be rookery.
In a bid to get some action the project co-ordinators Hilton Ward and Dayna Davies have decided to
go local with their calls. Not a lot of scientific work has been done on analysing gannet speech, or
should that be screech. But some other species, especially tui are known to have very distinct local
Hilton borrowed a directional microphone from Glen Edney and was ready for a trip to the Pinnacles.
I borrowed my sons’ 5.8 metre Ramco and we were clearing Tutukaka head soon after day break.
The Pinnacles, rising shear out of the water about 15 kms off the coast are the nearest gannet colony
to Taurawhata, surely they should use a local dialect there.
Unfortunately when we arrived the nor’ wester had not died out completely. The ocean was a bit
sloppy and therefore noisy as we made several drift passes close to the majestic cliffs.
Then Hilton took the wheel for a while and it was my turn to focus on some sea birds through my
faithful Nikon 70 – 200. The results were a powerful 3 shot sequence of an Australasian gannet
taking off and a variety selection from among the thousands of Fairy prion surrounding us as we
motored away from the Pinnacles.
A couple of weeks later Hilton and Dayna were still trying to edit the best bits out of the recordings
for playback at Taurawhata. Maybe we will need another recording voyage.