One of the great pleasures of our Hauraki Gulf seabird research programme over the years has been to have young (and some not so young!) people join us as volunteers with our fieldwork on islands. In all cases they have proved to be invaluable help in the field as well as great company. They come from mixed backgrounds; some are students taking leave from studies in either New Zealand or their home countries, or wanting to experience working with wildlife in New Zealand’s island environment.
Kyle Morrison (Canada)
“It's been 7 years since I was on Burgess Island/Mokohinau Islands for 10 days to help with seabird monitoring and I still have many clear and dear memories - an endless ocean-blue 360-degree view from our lighthouse abode, steep sided cliffs, the yellow-webbed feet of White-faced Storm Petrels, multitudes of skinks scurrying away in the day, flax flowers dripping with geckos at night, a secluded swimming grotto, hours of directing a radio antenna this way and that in the hopes of hearing a New Zealand Storm Petrel, and friendly companions with stories from other amazing places where seabirds call home.”
After moving to New Zealand with his partner Sarah Jamieson, Kyle went on to complete his PhD (with Massey University) studying Rockhopper Penguins on Campbell Island. Kyle and Sarah have now returned to Canada with their two young children.
Abe Borker (USA)
“Thanks to the invitation to join a team on Burgess Island (Mokohinau Islands) I've gotten to see what a globally important healthy seabird colony looks like first hand. I've had the magical experience of listening to a cacophony of seabirds, and the opportunity to learn about seabird ecology and related methods from world renowned experts, forming a professional bond that's lasted long after leaving the island.”
A great enthusiast and a brilliant photographer (seen here with Massey
University Master's student Megan Young (who worked on White-faced Storm-petrels).
Adrien Lambrechts (France)
“In 2010 I decided to take a “year-off” from the French company for which I was working, to participate as an eco-volunteer to several conservation programs in New-Zealand. All the experiences I had in the different corners of New-Zealand I visited were highly exciting but I have to say that among all the fieldwork trips I did, one of them remains particularly unforgettable… Indeed I had the opportunity the join the happy team of Chris Gaskin – a prominent member of the Northern NZ Seabird Trust - to carry out a breeding seabird monitoring work on Burgess Island (Mokohinau Group). Ten days walking around one of the most beautiful island I have ever seen, working at night, dusk and during daylight, looking for petrels nesting burrows, catching
shearwaters or banding storm-petrels. As a far end corners lover and as a seabird fascinated fan, this was just a unique and valuable experience that I could never forget.”
Worth noting that both Kyle and Adrien are also excellent photographers who have been very generous in allowing us to use their images.
More to come.... of course there is a madcap element to life on remote islands!
The NNZST Stalwart Volunteer Award
Our inaugural ‘Stalwart Volunteer Award’ goes to Derek Bettesworth of rural Whangarei. Derek has long been associated with work on Hauraki Gulf seabirds – both on islands and on countless trips out on the water where he thrived in most terrible conditions – on deck! A steady hand (except for a minor contretemps with a generator), a delightfully wry sense of humour and a willingness to be involved and get jobs done.
The photo shows Derek crossing Burgess Island's 'Chasm of Doom' - one the Abe Borker's Hauraki Portfolio (a number of Abe's images feature on our website).