Love in the air as white-faced storm petrel returns after 56 years

For the first time in over 50 years the rarely seen white-faced storm petrel emerged from an underground burrow at the Five Islands Nature Reserve this week, Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton announced.

Five Island Nature Reserve consists of 5 islets off the coast of Port Kembla

In time for Valentine’s Day, these elusive birds are breeding again on the island off Port Kembla for the first time since 1962.

“These birds have been seen on and off since 2014 but haven’t been able to burrow to make nests on the island because it was covered with weeds,” Ms Upton said.

“The National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) and Friends of Five Islands volunteer group have spent the past four years eradicating weeks from the area and planting more than 12,000 native plants by hand. And it’s paid off!”

The conservation efforts have been rewarded with three adults and three chicks observed in and around burrows this month.

Two of the breeding adults were carefully caught and fitted with approved bands around their legs this week. This will determine if the birds are among others that might return to breed next season.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to show how on-ground conservation efforts are working. Programs like this are an important part of the NSW Government’s commitment to conservation.

“There is not much known about this species so this will contribute enormously to understanding the small, but significant bird,” Ms Upton said.

The NSW Government has committed over $240,000 to the ongoing conservation work at the Five Islands Nature Reserve.

Photos and video are available: White-faced storm petrel