Posted by savethekiwi
Thursday, January 12th, 2012 at 10:17 am
The West Coast Wildlife Centre had a few extra friends arrive in time for Christmas this summer.
On December 24th a Haast Tokoeka chick hatched, closely followed by two more on Christmas day, another from Haast and a Rowi from Okarito. The Wildlife Centre must have been abuzz with festive spirit as the chicks are named Eve, Blitzen and Mistletoe.
Three birds arriving for Christmas is pretty cool but Mistletoe’s story is extra special.
DOC BNZ Operation Nest Egg Ranger Iain Graham and his kiwi dog Rein went to work in the Okarito sanctuary looking for a newly hatched chick to put a transmitter on. They tracked into the nest of Mistletoe’s parents and looked in to see who was at home, instead of the chick they expected to find, the parents were still looking after an egg!
Iain reached in to check the egg and a rock fell from the roof of the burrow landing right on top of it!
Iain quickly decided to take the egg out of the bush to the Wildlife Centre where Bridget could patch it up to give it the best chance of surviving. He knew that the technique of using sterilised pieces of pre-hatched eggs and masking tape, had worked for other damaged eggs in the past and he hoped that if he got the egg to Bridget in time she would be able to put it back to together again!
Luckily Iain got to the wildlife centre in time and Bridget’s patch worked its magic, so on Christmas day Mistletoe broke through the masking tape and is now a fluffy healthy chick.
Posted by lizzy
Monday, December 19th, 2011 at 10:20 am
From right to left: Me, Lynda, Duncan, Jools, a big bucket full of money and Sarah.
Topp Twins add humour and sparkle to rowi story
The start of 2011 saw kiwi icons the Topp Twins give their supprt for the rowi project at their Blenheim hoe-down. This was a hum-dinger of a show, combining alt-country and bluegrass talent with humour, love and generosity.
Ranger Anna Colombus and the awesome students at Whataroa.
Whataroa School protect kiwi neighbours
In spring 2010, several young rowi made history by being released into north Okarito forest – an area that they have not been recorded living in for many decades. For the first time in many years, the people of Whataroa have kiwi living almost on their doorsteps – close enough to hear them calling at night! The students of Whataroa School have adopted these young birds and will be involved in recording their progress into the future.
Bridget Wrenn from the West Coast Wildlife Centre, holding the healthy egg.
First egg of the 2011 season!
The first rowi egg for the new breeding season came from Jack and Roberta (M pair) who live just south of Three Mile Lagoon, north of Okarito township. The healthy egg was 31 days old and went to be incubated at the West Coast Wildlife Centre.
Thank you Linwood College!
Stellar fundraising efforts
It was nearly a whole year ago that a group of Untouched World students made their way out of the bush, following a successful rescue of a kiwi egg. One enterprising student accompanied the rowi team on that mission – Perry Hyde from Linwood College. Perry went back to his school’s environmental club with the thought of sponsoring ‘his’ little kiwi in some way. They brainstormed and came up with several ideas, eventually settling on a mufti day and tug of war, to raise money for the rowi programme.
Haast ranger Bevan Cameron holds a rowi.
Haast and Franz join forces for kiwi conservation
Bodiversity assets teams from Franz Josef and South Westland have joined together and become one team. For staff this is exciting as it has resulted in more opportunities to work across biodiversity programmes and get involved in programmes such as pest control, rowi management, the critically endangered Haast tokoeka kiwi management and tawaki (Fiordland crested penguin) monitoring.
LEARNZ field trip teacher Andrew Penny holds a rowi.
Rowi in classrooms across NZ
In September, over 100 classes from all over the country joined LEARNZ field trip teacher Andrew Penny online to meet and talk with kiwi experts, as well as access a range of internet-based material related to BNZ Operation Nest Egg .
Anna and the little wild chick.
First wild chick of the 2011 breeding season
In october, rowi ranger Anna Colombus successfully located the first chick of the season to be monitored in the forest rather than in captivity. Due to a 1080 operation in the kiwi zone, just prior to the chick-hatching season, we have been able to leave some chicks to grow naturally in the forest.
Smitha and daughter Gauri release rowi 'Dilly' into her new burrow in north Okarito forest.
Rowi rangers’ best part of the year – bringing the birds home!
November brought the part of the year rowi rangers love best, when they get to bring the healthy young kiwi back home to Okarito forest. Amongst the 15 birds being released were the two rowi named last year by Lynda and Jools Topp – ‘Pongo’ and ‘Dilly’. The Topp Twins wished their kiwi luck saying “Do us proud girls – go find yourselves a nice Kiwi bloke and multiply!” A fantastic way to round-off our year.
Posted by lizzy
Tuesday, December 13th, 2011 at 8:11 am
At the moment we are busy checking our wee rowi chicks that are in the forest with their parents, with a small transmitter attached.
I recently went out to an area in the forest we call Alpine Lake to visit a pair of birds called Charger and Dawn. We were hoping they would have a new chick with them. They had been sitting studiously on their egg for over 70 days now, so the chick was due to hatch.
A very young wild rowi chick.
I started my day off in the best way possible, with a helicopter flight into the heart of the Okarito forest, where they dropped me off at one of our huts.
It was such a beautiful clear day and was amazing to fly over the forest and see the area that I would soon be walking!
After a safe drop off, I set off on my adventure alongside Alpine Lake and up over a couple of small hills to my turn-off.
Eventually I got to the area where this pair’s territory begins and used my transceiver to listen for a signal for the birds. Each bird has a specific frequency on the transmitter attached to its leg, so that we can find them in the forest.
I got a signal for the birds and began to track into them off the track…
The signal took me along and then up a hill towards the top of a ridge. Suddenly I was getting a booming, loud signal all around me so was able to move my aerial around and figure out where they were sleeping in their burrow. I found the entrance and quietly peeked in to see the adults sitting together at the back of the burrow.
I slid my hand in and under the male, who didn’t move at all as I felt around under him and suddenly got hold of a very small leg, a chick!
Fitting the transmitter to the little chick.
I gently lifted it from the burrow, fitted a transmitter on its leg and weighed and checked it over. It looked to be a very healthy chick, only 252 grams!
I took it back to the burrow and quietly put it back with its parents and it snuck back between them…..a great result!
The other work I’ve undertaken this week was little blue penguin/korora monitoring. Every two weeks I walk down past the 3-Mile lagoon to where I monitor the colony to see how their chicks are doing.
The breeding season is well under way now with all active burrows having hatched their eggs. It has been quite a long period of monitoring as the adults start to lay their eggs in August.
Korora usually have two eggs each season and will raise both chicks. Once the chicks hatch there is a guard period of four weeks or so when one of the parents will be with the chicks at all times.
Over the last couple of weeks, before the chicks fledge and head out to sea to fend for themselves, they will be left alone for a day or two, as both parents are out trying to get enough food to feed their nearly full-sized chicks.
A little blue penguin guards its burrow.
At this time the chicks are getting their waterproof feathers through and it is quite hard to tell the difference between them and their parents, although the adults are generally much more aggressive and will try to bite the burrowscope while the chicks hide at the back of the nest!
I will continue to monitor the chicks until they have all fledged, usually around Christmas time.
This week I noticed that there were many empty nests as the chicks have left to begin their adult life at sea. It is nice to see an empty nest and know the parents have done a great job at raising their two chicks successfully….
Posted by Anna – Rowi Field Ranger
Monday, December 5th, 2011 at 9:55 am
Last week I headed out for the day with Fiona, who was taking a day off from working at the West Coast Wildlife Centre to join me in Okarito forest to help with checking our newborn rowi chicks.
We had two pairs of rowi that we were hoping would have a newborn chick each, so we headed out for our walk to look for the birds.
These birds live relatively close together, although they still have their own territories so keep their distance from each other!
With the help of Skyranger, we were waiting for these birds to finish incubating an egg each and were hopeful they would both have a chick hatched and well in the burrow with them. Rowi incubate one egg for around 75 days before it hatches out to a miniature rowi – all ready to eat invertebrates and worms and look after itself.
First, we went to visit Timone and her mate. We got a signal for their transmitter, which is attached to her leg. In this way we can find her no matter which burrow she may be sleeping in for the day.
We tracked in quietly through the forest following the loudest signal until we came to their burrow, a huge fallen tree on the side of a hill-slope near the top of a ridge.
After carefully crawling around the log trying to find the entrance, I saw a large hole that disappeared into the log. On closer inspection there were a few kiwi feathers so I quietly shone my torch in to see if I could view the birds. Timone and her mate were both sitting inside the entrance, however I could not see a chick or any egg.
I was sure there was no chick with them, however I decided we should still visit them on another day to see if the chick just may have been sleeping close by….
Next we headed back along the track to get a signal for Rupert and his girlfriend, hoping that this visit would be more successful.
Again we tracked in quietly and as we got close I whispered to Fiona to be as quiet as possible. We were just about to start walking up closer to a large log as there was a loud crashing and the female ran past us as we stood quietly looking on! She must have been sitting at the entrance and heard us coming….we quickly moved up to the now obvious burrow entrance and I knelt down to check inside.
Our beautiful, wild rowi chick.
The male was still sitting quietly with a very furry, very small chick beside him!
I reached inside and gently pulled the chick out so that Fiona and I could weigh him and attach a miniature transmitter to his leg. He was a perfect, gorgeous chick, we both felt very excited and priviledged to have seen him in the wild with his parents!
Fiona holding the little chick.
We will now keep an eye on the chick over the next year or so to see how he grows.
Posted by lizzy
Monday, November 28th, 2011 at 10:54 am
Last week I visited the coast for the annual rowi return. This is the part of the year rowi rangers love best, when they get to bring the healthy young kiwi back home to Okarito forest.
Smitha and daughter Gauri release rowi 'Dilly' into her new burrow in north Okarito forest.
Amongst the 15 birds being released were the two rowi named last year by Lynda and Jools Topp – ‘Pongo’ and ‘Dilly’. The Topp Twins wished their kiwi luck saying “Do us proud girls – go find yourselves a nice Kiwi bloke and multiply!”
I joined rowi team leader Duncan Kay to release Jools and Lynda’s birds.
Gauri meets her first kiwi (Pongo).
Scenic Hotel Group has recently come on board to help BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust support the Rowi Project. Randhir from Te Waonui Forest Retreat in Franz Josef, his wife Smitha and daughter Gauri (2 years) also came on the release to see their first rowi and help Duncan and I.
Randhir and daughter Gauri help rowi ranger Duncan Kay release
The 15 rowi eggs were removed from the Okarito forest to protect them from predators – stoats and other introduced pets as part of BNZ Operation Nest Egg. The kiwi were hatched at both the West Coast Wildlife Centre in Franz Josef and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch and have been raised to maturity on predator-free Motuara Island in the Marlborough Sounds.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on them now they are back in Okarito Kiwi Zone.
Posted by lizzy
Tuesday, November 8th, 2011 at 2:01 pm
For the past five weeks all the children in Room 2 from ages 7 to 13 at Franz Josef Glacier School have been lucky enough to experience being a Junior Kiwi Ranger at the West Coast Wildlife Centre.
We all got to work with both rowi and Haast tokoeka kiwi chicks from the time they were incubating in their eggs to them hatching and being really, really cute!!
Yummy kiwi chick food!
We had to be at the Wildlife Centre at 8 am. Bridget, Fiona and Kim took us down to the Kiwi brooding area and we helped to prepare the kiwis’ food. It was a delicious assortment of ox heart, cat biscuits, veges and fruit…..YUM!
We placed the food in all of the kiwis’ dishes in the nocturnal house and spread meal worms around the enclosure for them to find during the day.
Ryan gets to stroke a kiwi chick.
After that we went and saw all the kiwi eggs and newly hatched chicks. We cleaned out their water bowls, checked their food, turned the soil over and weighed each kiwi chick.
Faith and Carlos had to hand-feed Don, a Haast tokoeka chick, because he didn’t know how to eat properly, and he had an infection in his eye, that the Kiwi rangers were monitoring.
Stasi and Pheonix watched Kohunga being micro-chipped, so that he could be identified when he was released into the wild.
After the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup, Ryan and Ella met WebbEllis, and watched the Kiwi Rangers put cream on his belly button.
Ryan and Ella with 'Earl'.
This is our last week working with the Kiwi Rangers this year and we would like to thank them for letting us come and experience how important their jobs are to help saving our very special national bird! Also it was awesome that we didn’t get back to school until after 10 o’clock, which meant we did not have to do maths!!
This week we also heard that our name was chosen for the newly hatched Haast tokoeka chick, we are very proud to name him TUMEKE, which means awesome in Maori!!
Kiwi Ranger Bridget with Tumeke and her helpers.
Posted by Anna – Rowi Field Ranger
Thursday, October 27th, 2011 at 10:37 am
The other day I ventured out with my volunteer for the day, Mark, to track into one of our breeding pairs of rowi. Our mission for the day was to ascertain whether or not BS pair had successfully hatched a chick.
This was all the more exciting for me as it was to be our first for the season of the chicks we will be monitoring in the forest rather than taking them and hatching them in captivity as part of BNZ Operation Nest Egg. Due to a 1080 operation in the kiwi zone, just prior to the chick-hatching season, this year we are leaving some chicks to grow naturally in the forest.
The view from Lake Mapourika.
We are able to do this due to the lack of stoats and other non-native kiwi killers in Okarito after the pest control operation. It’s really exciting for the rowi team to watch these chicks grow up naturally without having to be removed from their home for their own protection.
BS pair had been incubating this egg for over 75 days now, so we were hopeful of finding their brand new chick.
We tramped up to the top of the ridge after a beautiful boat ride across Lake Mapourika with amazing views of the Southern Alps, then headed along one of our tracks until we could pick up a signal for BS pair. Once we had a good signal we tracked in quietly, feeling quite excited about arriving at their burrow and wondering what we would find.
On arrival, I could see a long kiwi bill poking out of the burrow entrance sniffing….I realised he definitely knew we were there! The male then withdrew his bill and we could immediately hear him making some noises inside the burrow, followed by the characteristics squeeks of a rowi chick!
Me and the wild little chick.
By this time I was super excited, we quietly put our bags down and I gently put my hand into the burrow to find the chick and bring it out….he was so very tiny, weighing only about 300 grams! Mark held him gently while I attached his tiny new transmitter and we checked him all over before putting him back with his mum and dad in the burrow.
Mark holding the wild chick for me.
Mark and I were both feeling pretty lucky, as we walked back out to the boat, that we were able to find the first chick born in the wild for the season!! We are looking forward to the next months as more chicks hatch in Okarito forest.
Posted by lizzy
Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 at 4:03 pm
By Andrew Penny – LEARNZ field trip teacher
During Conservation Week last month, the LEARNZ team ventured over to Franz Josef for another action-packed virtual field trip for 2011.
LEARNZ provides New Zealand registered teachers with unlimited free access to the largest contemporary collection of New Zealand online education material. LEARNZ specialises in virtual field trips, where students experience going right to the centre of the most fascinating events, businesses and locations around the country, in real-time. Participation is supported by online background materials and activities, and is enabled using live audioconferencing, web board, and diaries, images and videos uploaded daily.
Over 100 classes from all over the country joined me online to meet and talk with kiwi experts, as well as access a range of internet-based material related to BNZ Operation Nest Egg . We also met with members of Te Runanga o Makaawhio, kaitiaki/guardians of the population of rowi in Okarito.
Kim turning one of the incubating kiwi eggs.
There were a number of highlights on this field trip over the three days. One of these was our visit to the West Coast Wildlife Centre. The centre is the official home to the incubation and captive rearing programme for rowi and Haast tokoeka kiwi. Kiwi ranger Kim took us behind the scenes where the captive-reared eggs are processed after being brought in from Okarito forest. It was exciting to see the incubation room where they were currently incubating both rowi and Haast tokoeka eggs, with one just starting to hatch!
Earthquake survivor Richter Rowi in his night time enclosure.
Also at the Wildlife Centre is a very cool nocturnal walk-through, where there are actual kiwi rummaging about in a naturalised habitat. It is the next best thing to stepping into a real forest and seeing these guys in action. One of the kiwi running around was Richter, the first rowi kiwi born after the September 2010 Christchurch Earthquake. Very cool indeed!
Another highlight was trekking into Okarito forest with rowi team leader Duncan Kay to check on a recently released juvenile rowi. It didn’t take long to find where its burrow was, but accessing it was another story!
Duncan and I with my first wild rowi.
The young kiwi was well hidden under a big old rata log, determined not to be woken up. Duncan couldn’t see where the burrow entrance was but eventually got hold of the sleepy kiwi through a narrow opening above. It was certainly an amazing experience and I felt very special because I got to hold one of the rarest kiwi in New Zealand while Duncan changed its transmitter.
On our last day Duncan took us back to the forest in search of a rowi kiwi egg that was ready to be lifted and taken to the West Coast Wildlife Centre for incubation. This particular egg was on the other side of Lake Mapourika, so Duncan took us across in the boat, the wind in our faces and incredible scenery all around us.
Duncan using the telemetry gear to find the kiwi burrow.
Once we got to the other side of the lake, Duncan got his aerial and radio receiver working. We trudged through thick native forest with the song of tui and sound of a kereru’s wing-beat high above us. The radio receiver was soon giving off loud beeps which meant the nest was not far away.
Duncan soon spotted the kiwi’s burrow. He pointed out a worn path leading to the entrance, and the remains of kiwi poo and a fallen feather were also key indicators that we were in the right spot. We were all very excited. I was holding the chilly bin that was filled with shredded paper to nurse the egg on its journey to the wildlife centre. There was also a hot water bottle inside to keep the egg warm, with a thermometer to ensure it did not get too hot.
Duncan trying to reach the egg in the rowi's burrow.
The burrow was inside the base of a large tree. Duncan tried to get the egg through the burrow entrance but it was out of his reach. Several attempts were made to access the burrow from all around the base of the tree, but a massive tangle of roots and other climbing plants simply made it too difficult. In the end, the egg lift had to be abandoned.
I was gutted that we never got to see the egg and take it back to the West Coast Wildlife Centre. But Duncan wasn’t too worried at all. He said that the eggs are too big for stoats to get their mouths round so it would be safe until it hatches. And when it does hatch, the DOC team will head back to the burrow and remove the newly-hatched chick.
Although it was an unsuccessful egg lift, it was still great to get out into the forest and see part of BNZ Operation Nest Egg in action.
Me holding a rowi - awesome!
So all in all we had a fantastic three days on the LEARNZ Kiwi virtual field trip. We discovered a lot about how rowi kiwi are being saved from extinction and the great work being done through BNZ Operation Nest Egg. I certainly hope to head back soon and check up on this very special bird.
To enrol for any of the free LEARNZ virtual field trips and for further information visit: www.learnz.org.nz or call the teacher free phone 0800 22 55 53.
Posted by Ieuan – Rowi Field Ranger
Monday, October 10th, 2011 at 7:56 am
My first visit to Motuara Island in around six months was an exiting prospect, with a fine forecast and a large chunk of work to be completed…namely catching 30 rowi, changing their transmitters and weighing them.
These rowi are due to come off the island at the end of this month and we needed to ensure that they are going to be up to their stoat-proof weight of 1200 gm, otherwise they will stay on Motuara for a longer period.
We had a team of four on the island, Anna (also a Franz kiwi ranger), Rachael Abbot who is currently studying rowi for her PhD and Rainer, a volunteer there to help us out.
We started off unpacking the boat and setting up camp, then split into two teams and headed bush to try and get signals for as many birds as possible. This would allow us to make a plan and go hard the next day. The idea was to find the birds at the outlying sides of the island first, enabling us to mop up the easier birds as time ran short on the following days.
Me tracking our elusive rowi.
Anna and Rachael got lucky – they caught seven birds in that first evening, finding them all in nest boxes provided for releasing chicks onto the island.
Rainer and I…not so lucky. We checked all the boxes in our area and found nothing but little blue penguins. These fascinating birds are breeding at the moment and were probably sitting on eggs so we left them alone and quietly retreated. We did catch two kiwi on our way back to camp though which was a bonus, and by the time Anna and Rachael got back Rainer (a former chef) had prepared a wonderful curry cooked on the camp stove!
Rainer holds a sleepy kiwi.
That first night saw a number of squally showers push eastwards over the island, waking us all up with their ferocity, but the day dawned fine and we were quickly into kiwi hunting through the wet bush.
Good days were had by both teams, catching most of the birds in thick bush which meant that only a hand full were left to catch on the final day. This allowed us some rare relax time for a spot of fishing and exploration of this interesting island. No fish, nevertheless, a fine way to end this island trip to a stunning part of New Zealand!
Posted by lizzy
Thursday, September 29th, 2011 at 9:34 am
My name is Bevan Cameron and I work for Department of Conservation (DOC) in Haast – mainly with the Haast tokoeka kiwi. I have just spent the past week up in Franz Josef assisting the DOC biodiversity team with their rodent and stoat monitoring and rowi management.
Recently the biodiversity assets teams from Franz Josef and South Westland have joined together and become one team. For staff this is exciting as it has resulted in more opportunities to work across biodiversity programmes and get involved in programmes such as pest control, rowi management, Haast tokoeka management and tawaki (Fiordland crested penguin) monitoring.
On Wednesday I went out with ranger Duncan Kay and did a transmitter change on a rowi juvenile in north Okarito forest.
I located the tree roots the bird was sleeping under. Duncan spotted the bird and directed me to go around the other side of the tree to prevent the bird from escaping. From my point I saw two birds in the burrow and I caught one of them. The other bird moved towards Duncan and he captured it along with another bird.
We worked out the bird that required the transmitter change and released the other two. We removed the old transmitter from the bird and attached a new one and then weighed it and measured its bill length.
Me holding a beautiful female rowi.
It was interesting to work with another kiwi and compare and contrast them to Haast tokoeka. Rowi remain calmer when you approach them and their plumage is a different colour (rowi are brown-grey in colour, whereas Haast tokoeka have a red tinge to their plumage). Also rowi hang out together in family groups (hence why we found three birds in one burrow), whereas Haast tokoeka are solitary.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Franz Josef and learnt from the experience. In two weeks time the Franz Josef and South Westland Biodiversity teams will join forces and travel to Te Anau to do a transfer of Haast tokoeka kiwi juveniles from crèche islands to Kohanga sites (insurance population sites such as Orokonui Ecosanctuary) to protect these critically endangered birds from extinction.