Thursday, February 08, 2018

Nigel the lonely gannet dies

Nigel No Mates, dubbed "the loneliest bird in the world", has died.
Nigel lived for years on rugged Mana Island, off the coast of New Zealand, drawn there by some painted concrete gannets established to try and attract a new gannet colony to the isolated, windy island. Nigel saw the concrete birds, seemed convinced by them and the recorded gannet calls being piped from the cliffs. He took a particular shine to one of the concrete painted decoy gannets, set up a nest by her, and proceeded to woo and court her (and "was apparently seen to get even friendlier with her") despite her complete lack of  response. He faithfully returned each year, although no other (real) gannets joined him.
A few months ago, the consevationsists spruced up and repainted the concrete gannets, and pointed the loudspeakers more out into the ocean. This, and perhaps Nigel's presence, seemed to do the trick and small group of other gannets soon arrived and set up house on a different part of the island, completely ignoring Nigel (as he ignored them, preferring the company of his own concrete colony).
Either way, it was all apparently too much for Nigel, and the lonesome gannet was found dead recently. As the project lead conservationist wryly observed, "Whether Nigel was a pioneer or whether he was just a little bit dimwitted, it's really hard to tell. Maybe a combination of both." A new gannet colony on Mana Island may, however, survive.

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