Peter the Periscope - a New Zealand Black Shag



NZ Black Shag "Phalacrocorax carbo". Also known as Kawau.

Date Captured:

25 August 1995

Location Captured:

Wellesley College, Days Bay

Person Reporting:

Merrilyn Moonen

Band Number:

Left leg: O-27429 Dominion Museum with white over top. Right leg: Orange with white below. Banded by Ralph Powlesland 10/6/95, approx 2 weeks old.

Admission Weight:


Release Weight:



N/A (Juvenile - 4 months old)

Rehab Unit No:

41 "Peter"


Black plumage glossed with slight tinge of green. Upper back plumage is dull bronze brown. The naked gular pouch is narrowly bordered with white feathers. Skin around eye and gular sac is yellow. Eyes greenish grey. Underparts flecked with white - indicating the bird is a juvenile. Facial colours also not strongly developed.


Extreme starvation, chest wheeze. Unable to fly.



18:45Collected bird from Merrilyn at 6:45pm. He had apparently been hanging about Wellesly College for the last few days. Weighed 1800 grms. Bird snappy and difficult to manage. Given 0.4 cc Ivomec. and 0.2mls Cod Liver Oil.

19:00p Fed 50 grms Hoki with Rescue Remedy and Arnica with the assistance of Tony from next door - him holding and me force feeding. This bird is very difficult to feed. Not at all happy with being restrained or covered with a towel - which is the approach to prevent severe pecking. Very swift reflex and sharp beak. 50 grms Hoki in salt water given voluntarily. Faeces white. Chest sounds wheezy. Salt and Fresh water left voluntarily. Given a hut for shelter.

11:45 No regurgitation's bird has been asleep with head under wing outside. Temperature dropped rapidly so brought in for the night - left in a pen in the spare room. Merely popped his head back under his wing and went straight back to sleep.


07:00 No evidence of having utilised hut in the time this bird has been in captivity. Bird standing alert and quiet no sign of having been upset by being inside for the night. No regurgitation's from previous feed. Fed 100 grms Kahawai and 50 grms Hoki. Pinch of Kelp and 2 mls Cod Liver Oil. Very hard work to get this food down and also a very messy business with food constantly being flung back at me - as I was on my own feeding this bird. Put back in outside run - immediately went to sleep again with head under wing. Salt and Fresh water left voluntarily.

09:15 Tony arrived to help feed. Tried a further 70 grms Hoki with 1.5 grms Vibravet paste. Ate better with the two of us.

17:15 Fed 145 grms Hoki/Kahawai in salt water with Rescue Remedy and Arnica, pinch of Kelp, 1/2 Mazun, 1/2 Clavulox tablet. Helped by Rosemary. Very slow and messy process again - still not happy being fed at all. Walked back into house on own accord.


06:30 Fed 200 grms Hoki/Kahawai (50%), 1/2 Clavulox, 1/2 Mazun. Bird not accepting force feeding at all well. A real battle. Not only wriggles but constantly spits food out and tries to peck. Requires careful handling - one person holding (Rosemary) one feeding. Needs to be able to stretch neck up straight to be able to swallow. Very quiet. No regurgitation from previous feed. Given a bath in the paddling pool. Able to hop up onto edge unassisted. Walked straight back into house of own accord. The flap of his feet on the stone is extremely comical. Has no fear at all of us, and is very well behaved except at feeding time. Salt and Fresh water left voluntarily.,

11:45 Checked by Steve from Taita Veterinary Clinic. Agrees to continuation of Clavulox in case of chest infection. Confirms this bird is chronically underweight.

13:00 Fed 200 grms Hoki/Kahawai (50%), with .2mls cod liver oil. Fed better this time - there was some semblance of co-operation. Wandered around in the yard and eventually flapped back into his run and hopped on to his perch. Has voluntarily been drinking both salt and fresh water. Spent most of the afternoon sunbathing and sleeping.

16:05 His nest mate was brought in by Ralph Powlesland (DOC) - suffering extreme starvation and dehydration (died 40 mins later). Peter was hatched out at Kohungaterra on the Wellington Coast line 4 months ago in Nest Number 6. Ralph confirmed that this birds normal weight should be another 1.5 kg heavier ie: 3.3 kg.

18:20 Fed 100 grms Hoki/Kahawai (50%) soaked in salt water with 0.1ml Cod Liver Oil. Dee holding and me feeding - Dee pecked on the mouth. Fed very reluctantly.


08:00 Well talk about a change in attitude overnight!! Peter serenely walked out of his yard this morning and stood waiting on the towel to be fed. We almost collapsed from shock. Ate 100 grms Hoki and Kahawai 50/50 in salt water with 0.1ml Cod Liver Oil like a perfect gentleman - Bernice assisting. Proceeded to re-arrange his feathers and walked sedately back to his perch to sleep it off.

11:30 Fresh Gar fish with point cut off wagged in front of his nose - took it in his beak - proceeded to 'kill' it and swallowed straight down the hatch. Went for a bath in the paddling pool. Lots of splashing and flapping and trashing about. Spent a good 10 minutes preening him self and flapping furiously to dry his wings and went off back to his perch for a nap.


02:00 Moved Peter into the bathroom. He was asleep when I went to pick him up - he got very upset but better that than leave him top the mercy of the dreadful southerly gale that had blown up.

06:30 Awake when I went in though it was still dark. Moved him to the garage as the high tide is not till 7:30am and the yard is already awash and it is bitterly cold. Put a sheet on the concrete so the cold does not travel through. Ate 150 grms Gar fish - 3 1/2 fish. co-operatively from my hand. Tries to 'kill it before eating by throwing it around. Still begging for more at the end of the feed - parades up and down the fence. Meal times appear to now have become 'Peters Parade'.

13:30 4 Gar fish (150grms) down the hatch and still wanting more.

18:30 Peter was perfectly behaved begged for more fish and swallowed them down without even a blink of an eyelid. Ate 6 pilchards (250 grms) Was in such a hurry he didn't even bother to 'kill' them before eating.


06:30 50 grms pilchards (1) 2 Left voluntarily. 1 Mazun tablet.

15:15 Peter has flown away - after eating the 2 pilchards.

17:45 Peter circling the house, landed down at the penguin sanctuary. Took him down 5 pilchards in a bowl and called him. He came down from the rock with a mixture of hopping and flying and ate them all from the hand. Walked back up to the rock when I left tucked his head in under his wing and went to sleep.

18:00 Peter still asleep down on the rocks.


06:30 Peter waiting at the penguin sanctuary. Flew down to the boat ramp as soon as I arrived. Came straight up and gobbled down 4 pilchards. Followed me along the top of the wall as I was filling fresh salt water buckets for the other birds.

Came and did a swim past the seawall as we were out feeding Everest the Gannet and Tremaine the other Shag. We have nick named him the 'Periscope'. He is certainly at home in the water and can fly well now which is really encouraging to see. Walked back over to the rocks and spread his wings to dry out in typically shag-like fashion.

13:00 Rosalie - Found on the road side with a roadworker - wouldn't let him get away - was begging for food. Enticed him home with 6 pilchards. Made him get up onto the sea wall and walk along the top to get back into the yard. Was asleep in his yard when I left.

17:15 Regurgitated 4 pilchards while yard being cleaned. Peters eyes seem to be bigger than his stomach. He begs and eats ravenously. Need to start spacing his meals as it is better for his digestion. Wouldn't eat any fresh pilchards when offered.

19:00 Ate 1 pilchard.

22:00 Ate 1 pilchard in cod liver oil - should ease digestion and prevent regurgitation.


06:00 Ate 2 pilchards in cod liver oil. Given a rest of 15 minutes then fed 2 more.

08:30 Peter ate 3 more pilchards. Was so keen on being fed he jumped onto the window ledge and came running to the gannets cage while it was being fed. Begging.

11:15 Flew up onto the window ledge and peered in the window while Ineke was feeding the penguin.

12:30 Ate 3 pilchards Had hopped up on the window ledge and was sitting up behind the gannet. His feet which are side webbed are able to curl completely around a 3/4" pieces of wood and he is able to balance well.

17:00 Ate 1 pilchard but did not want any more . Tucked head in under wing - sleeping off his previous feeds.


06:00 Fed 2 pilchards - very eager came racing over as soon as I appeared with the food bowl.

08:30 Fed 4 Mackerel.

10:30 Fed 1 pilchard.

12:10 Has been sitting on the window ledge peering in through the window all morning. Flew up onto the sea wall and went off out for a swim. He is very capable in the water. Lots of cleaning splashing and flapping. Swam over to the penguin sanctuary boat ramp. Stood for a while school and preened. Hung his wings out to dry after vigorous flapping.

14:30 Tony from next door came over to say that Peter had landed on their seawall after doing a low fly past over the front yard. Could he feed him some pilchards? - took 2 over. Spent the afternoon on Cowdry's wall in the sun sleeping.

17:00 Has moved to the rocks at the corner of Cowdrys wall and Days Bay near the road - could not bribe him to move back out to sea.

20:00 Has stayed out for the night. - still down at the corner - asleep.


07:00 Flew up onto the wall at Bernices. Walked along for breakfast as soon as he saw I had the food dish. Ate 3 pilchards. Went and sat on the roof of Tremaines house and settled for a sleep.

09:15 Fed 1 large Mackerel and 1 pilchard. Decided to help me clean the windows by sitting on the window ledge pecking at the mop as I cleaned.

10:00 Has flown off down to the penguin sanctuary and is sitting in the sun.

11:30 Walked over to the wall from the sanctuary and came home for a snack - 3 pilchards.

12:00 Fed 1 pilchard came and watched me build a cage for a Broad Billed Prion. Undid the elastic as fast as I could do it up again.

13:40 Fed 2 pilchards.

15:35 Ate 2 large spotties from the bath water where they were swimming around. He is able to catch live fish very easily.

16:30 Fed 1 pilchard.


06:15 Standing on Tremaines house wouldn't get off for breakfast ate 1 pilchard after throwing it up in the air and splattering the window with fish juice.

07:00 Hung in on house roof while yard being cleaned - had a go at the hose. Ate 4 Mackerel.

14:30 Standing on Tremaines house - ate 6 Pilchards.

16:30 Came running over calling as he came. Ate 3 pilchards and 4 Mackerel. Got down and moved under the table while yard was being scrubbed. Very windy this evening but he still sat on the house roof and slept.


06:15 Fed 3 Mackerel calling as soon as I appeared with the food bowl.

07:00 Ate 4 pilchards sat on the broom while the yard was being cleaned.

08:30 Offered a pilchard but refused it.

14:00 Ineke - found Peter sitting on the doorstep Had 1 pilchard and spoke.

15:30 Ate 6 pilchards with Cod Liver Oil.

18:15 Still sitting on Tremaines house ate 2 pilchards. No evidence of having been out for a flight or swim today.


06:30 Ate 4 pilchards - Peter has been sitting on the ledge peering in at the penguin for the last hour. After breakfast he went and had a bath in the fresh water paddling pool.

08:30 Ate 3 Mackerel.

11:45 Ate 5 Mackerel. Hopped into the swimming pool with the penguin who was having a swim - a great altercation. Quick thinking by Ineke saved the day as she threw a towel over him. The penguin was the winner in the squabble. Went and sat on Tremaines house in the sun.

16:35 Ate 3 pilchards and had a shower under the hose.

18:10 1 Mackerel


06:30 Peter was asleep on the doorstep this morning - well out of the wind and first in line for a fish. Ate 5 pilchards.

08:30 Offered another two pilchards but was not fussed.

12:00 Again not interested in eating.

17:30 Ate 6 Mackerel. Has perched on Tremaines house roof and surveys the harbour from there. Spends a great deal of time peering in the window.


06:45 Fed 3 pilchards and went and sat on the table while the yard was being cleaned.

11:45 Fed 3 pilchards - only played with a 4th.

17:00 Ate 6 pilchards and sat on the table again while the yard was cleaned. Reluctant to get off the roof of Tremaines house sat on the broom when we tried to move him.


06:30 Fed 4 Mackerel - a race against Tremaine as to who got fed first.

09:40 Fed 4 Mackerel.

13:30 Peter weighed came in at 3 Kg. Took to being put in a box quite well. Went by car as far as we could up past the Horokiwi mining site. Then a long walk in. Peter did very well but appeared to get quite hot. When we opened his cage door he was quite reluctant to leave the cage - even with a bribe of fish. Ate two pilchards and then did a short walk around till finally settled under a tree. Showed no sign of wanting to fly. He was left for an hour and on our return was still under the tree. We decided to cage him again and take him back to the mound where it may be easier to take off. He was very co-operative. On opening the cage door on the top of the mound he came out immediately this time and ate 1 mackerel. Stood facing into the wind. By the time we had climbed down from the mound he had disappeared. There were several shags around in the lake but none that we could positively identify as Peter. The location is a really good release place with a lot of shelter, fresh water and other bird life. Well away from roads and cars.


10:15 Peter standing on the rocks on the point at the sanctuary - has made very quick trip back (20Ks) looking fit and well. Came up on to the wall as soon as he saw movement in the yard. Gave him two mackerel. After having a drink of water he went and sat on the sea wall. Begging while we caught Tremaine who is due to leave today.

16:38 Stole 2 pilchards out of the food bowl. We are trying to wean him and have decided to make him feed in the water. We got him onto the wall, his feet are quite remarkable they have astonishing flexibility and grip, and helped into the tide which is high and tried to get him to eat two fish from there - no luck he just swam straight over to the boat ramp and came home along the wall. Calling constantly for food. Decided to sit on the penguin house roof and dry his wings by gently flapping them to and fro in the air. He has a definite rhythm with this and is able to preen his belly at the same time.


06:30 Taken down to the boat ramp along the wall and made to have a swim and eat 4 pilchards in the water - managed to 'catch' them and kill them. Lots of splashing and wing shuffling then walked back along the wall to climb onto the Park Royal roof for a drying out and preening session. Lots of baby chat and begging behaviour.

11:45 Ineke - Given 1 3/4 pilchard for which he graciously flew down. Wanted more. Given a sermon about standing tall on own feet and off welfare. Peter non-plussed. When I left he was innocently drying wings.

14:00 Collected by Peter Rees (Dept Conservation) and taken back to the coastline gate near the quarry. Let go on a large rock where there were several other shags. He swam, splashed, preened then came back up to the beach to sit with Peter Rees who was eating his lunch. Then flew out to a rock. Travelled well - no regurgitations.


06:45 Peter back on the seawall - ate 1 mackerel and 6 pilchards. Doesn't seem starving this morning. Fit and well after yesterdays adventures.

11:30 Heather - Peter snoozing on the wall in the sun but quickly became active when he realised someone was in the house. Walked along the window sill tapping at the window. Fed him 2 pilchards.

17:15 Taken down to the sea over the seawall and made to catch his food in the water. Ate 7 pilchards - had a good swim. Lots of baby noises. Flapping to dry out on the Park Royal roof.


06:30 Baby chucking noises, followed us along the wall happily. Flew off into the water. Good landing wings in reverse and feet forward. Ate and killed 10 pilchards. Went off for a voluntary swim afterwards.

07:00 Back in the yard drying out.

13:00 Dee - Ate 7 pilchards - seems hungry

17:30 Fed 13 pilchards in the sea. Swam well and is able to find fish lying on the bottom. Swam to rocks and dried off there for 45 mins before returning to roost. Roosting on one foot quite frequently now. Stands mainly on Left foot..


06:15 Flew off the wall straight down to the boat ramp. did a correct water landing. Caught and killed 7 mackerel by diving under the water. Swam to the rocks to dry out - still there at 7:15am. First regurgitation pellet today. Means his digestion system is working well and bones are not impacting his crop.

12:30 Dee - Ate 7 pilchards - very appreciative. Sitting on top of Dixie's cage when I arrived.

19:15 Offered pilchards - did not want any. Roosting on Dixie's house - did not even venture off to say Hello.


06:00 Ate 9 pilchards from the boat ramp. Swimming well and flew down from the sea wall rather than walking along it. 1 regurgitation pellet this morning. Preened and hung wings out to dry on the wall. Seems rather wary of the gulls today.

12:00 2 pilchards

17:30 Flew down to the boat ramp. Swam and dived well. Bernice reported that he had spent an hour swimming and diving in the harbour today.


06:30 Swam for 6 pilchards

12:30 Fed 2 Mackerel 3/4 Mazun. Cod Liver Oil.

17:30 Ate 5 pilchards and 3 mackerel. Swimming well came straight home after feeding.


07:00 Ate 7 pilchards and 3 mackerel. Flew straight down from roost to boat ramp. Perfect landing. Also saw him do a perfect take off from the water.

17:30 Not hungry - ate 2 pilchards after coaxing. Had a long swim and a bath. Has been down at the sanctuary all day sitting on the rocks.

18:00 Came home to roost.


06:30 No sign of Peter this morning. Has roosted here for part of the night.

07:30 Peter sitting on the highest rock at the sanctuary with another shag.

08:00 Flew down onto the wall. The other shag went fishing. Ate 10 pilchards.

11:30 Ineke - I held out a fish to him but he did not seem interested. He stood on one leg both eyes shut sleeping.

17:10 Peter not at home - saw him do an aerial circuit and he landed at the penguin sanctuary on the high rock. Flew down to the water and swam to the boat ramp - ate 7 pilchards.

18:00 Sleeping down on the rocks near the penguin sanctuary - these will be submerged at high tide!!


06:15 Sitting on the rocks at the penguin sanctuary then disappeared about 10 minutes later.

11:30 Heather - Peter sitting on the rocks at the sanctuary - did not come for any fish.

16:45 Circling the houses. Fed 9 pilchards down by the boat ramp.


06:00 Came rocketing down from his roost and flew down to the boat ramp. Ate 7 pilchards in the water on the dive and swam over to the rocks. Perfect water landing.

18:00 Perfect landing down by the boat ramp. Dived and ate 6 pilchards thrown in from the seawall. Has started to dives from the air. Swam away and roosted on the rocks at the sanctuary.


06:30 No sign of Peter

18:00 Flew into the boat ramp. Ate 6 pilchards and swam of to the rocks. Not very sociable. Not very hungry - a good sign that he is beginning to fend for himself.


20:00 No sign of Peter all day.


06:30 Peter flew in from the South. Maybe he has been to Kohunga Terra. Ate 4 pilchards and swam off immediately to the rocks.

11:45 Seen sitting in the sun on the rocks at the end of Sunshine Bay

16:15 Sitting on seawall - ate 5 pilchards. Roosted here this evening.


07:00 Sitting down on the boat ramp. Swam over and ate 5 pilchards.

09:30 Seen diving and catching own fish in the weed off the rocks at the penguin sanctuary.

13:00 Ate 4 Mackerel

17:30 Sitting on the wall. Ate 6 pilchards. Had a 'go' at the cat through the window. Went and sat on Dixie's roof to roost.


06:00 Peter would not swim for his food this morning. - He would not get off the table. Fed 11 pilchards where he was. He trailed off back to his roost and went to sleep.

13:00 Dee - Sitting on sea wall - came to get lunch - Ate 7 pilchards hungrily.

17:30 Ate 10 pilchards off the fence. Would not go down to the water.


06:30 Fed 9 pilchards off the fence. Regurgitation pellet this morning. Flew off from the table into the sea when the hose was turned on to scrub out the yard.

17:10 Ate 10 pilchards after flying in from the South - landed in the sea which is very rough today. Swam right up and down begging profusely for fish while I walked along the wall to the boat ramp. He literally ran up to me so fast he tripped over his own feet.


06:00 Standing on rocks today looking out to sea. Offered fish which he declined and took himself off for a swim.

18:10 Ate 8 pilchards and went and sat on his roost


06:10 Ate 10 pilchards was sleeping between his roost and Dixie's house. Went and sat on the sea wall while the yard was cleaned - took himself off for a swim.


07:10 Peter flew in and walked along the fence and ate 13 pilchards. Good to see him as there has been a fishing net in Sunshine Bay and I have been concerned that he may have got caught up in it.

17:30 Flew in and ate 13 pilchards and then left straight away. Swimming off towards Days Bay.


07:30 Peter waiting on the front doorstep - pecking at the door window. Ate 17 pilchards from the ice-cream container on his own. Waddled around to the seawall near Dixie's house and flew up there and off into the ocean. The Southerly is very heavy and didn't seem to bother him at all.


06:15 Arrived and immediately ate 13 pilchards and then retired to the other end of the seawall to digest them. Seen afterwards standing on the rocks at the penguin sanctuary watching another shag fishing.

17:30 Standing on the sea wall. Ate 12 pilchards and went off for a swim.


06:45 Ate 9 pilchards from an ice-cream container on the wall. Then off for a swim.

17:30 Waiting on the wall ate 11 pilchards and flew off towards Sunshine Bay.


08:00 Only ate 4 pilchards this morning. 1 Mazun vitamin tablet.

18:00 Came and ate 4 pilchards then off again for a swim


06:30 Down at the boat ramp with another shag. Both diving and swimming around. Came out onto the boat ramp for a fish - ate 5 but kept watch on the other bird. As soon as that bird left he left as well. It is good to see that the social company is more important than food.

11:45 Ineke - Keen as mustard. Gave him 10 pilchards which he caught on the wing. Would have eaten more but "gluttons are made not born" thought I.

18:00 Ate 5 pilchards off the fence.


06:30 Ate 13 pilchards while swimming off the beach. Good water start after feeding.

18:00 Ate 14 pilchards. Roosted here for the first time in ages.


06:00 Standing on the roost but got down onto table when he saw the ice-cream container full of fish. Ate 9 Mackerels and flew off to sea.

16:45 Flew in ate 7 pilchards and swam off to Days Bay.


06:30 In the company of another shag - came in for 6 pilchards and went off to swim with the other bird.

17:50 Swimming by the sea wall for a fish - threw them in. Was dive bombed by a Black Backed Gull trying to steal his fish. Dealt with in no uncertain terms by Peter who then continued to eat 11 pilchards. Peter officially discharged. Is coming in for top-up meals only and roosting only periodically.


Last updated: August 18, 1996.

This page is maintained by Charlie Lear..

Copyright © 1996 - Charlie Lear
Wellington, New Zealand