Protecting the Westland petrel/tāiko this summer in Punakaiki
To help protect the endangered Westland petrel/tāiko, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency - South Island is trialling turning off highway lighting at night on a short section of State Highway 6 through Punakaiki this summer.
“Streetlights from Waikori Road in the south to Bullock Creek Road on the north side of Punakaiki will be turned off on Sunday, 8 November 2020 and turned back on in the New Year,” says Colin Hey, Senior Network Manager for Waka Kotahi.
Motorists are advised to take extra care on the road at night during this time with cautionary signage being installed on either side of the 3.4 km section of highway affected.
The Westland petrel/tāiko fledglings or chicks nest in burrows and can become disoriented from bright lights under their flight paths causing them to crash land, a phenomena known as fallout.
“The breeding colony is just south of Punakaiki and the breeding season is now underway, with petrel fledglings beginning to fly from early November,” says Mr Hey.
During the breeding season, from April to December, the adults regularly fly in and out but only during the night. Similarly, the fledglings are active on land only at night but take only one flight out to sea and return for the first time after five to seven years.
You can read more about the trial by clicking here.
Photo credit to Bruce Stuart-Menteath.