3 Feb 2012

Indications rediscovered seabird is breeding here

7:11 pm on 3 February 2012

Researchers have found signs a critically endangered bird is breeding in the Hauraki Gulf.

The New Zealand storm petrel was presumed extinct until it was rediscovered by birdwatchers in 2003.

Since then there has been much speculation as to whether the tiny 35 gram seabird breeds on islands in the Gulf, or is a visitor to New Zealand waters, breeding elsewhere.

Four of five storm petrels captured within the gulf's marine park area on Wednesday by a team of Auckland-based researchers had breeding patches on their stomachs; a sign they have been incubating eggs.

The team comprised birdwatcher and tour guide Chris Gaskin, Dr Matt Rayner (University of Auckland), Shane McInnes (Department of Conservation) and skipper Brett Rathe.

The team is continuing its conservation programme for the next two months, so it can find out as much as possible about the bird's breeding cycle.

Prior to 2003 the bird was only known by three specimens in the British Natural History Museum.