Posted by Lucy – Rowi Field Ranger
Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009 at 1:30 pm
Hayley and I decided to make hay while the sun was shining (it had been raining for two weeks straight) and do a transmitter change on a male breeding rowi called Norman.
To get to Norman and his partner, we had to access the sanctuary from beautiful Mapourika Lake by boat (not a bad start to the day). The lake was so swollen from all the rain that the wharf was completely under water.
Beautiful Mapourika Lake. Photo: Lizzy Sutcliffe
We caught a ride with Iain and Kirsty across the lake (Kirsty is working for DOC’s Research and Development Team studying the kea living in Okarito forest) they where heading in the kiwi zone as well to put new transmitters on some juvenile kea. As well as rowi, kea are just one of the many incredible species, including kotuku/white herons and royal spoonbills, that make Okarito such a special place.
The kea nest is in the base of a huge tree and Hayley and I stuck around to help – we had never seen juvenile kea.
Haley checking one of the juvenile kea
It was really cool to see the how the tricky bits of working with kea are overcome compared to kiwi, (kea are much more difficult birds to track because they fly!). They needed to use a huge staff, nearly three metres long, to reach the juveniles in the deep burrow. We were expecting to find two kea chicks but to our surprise there were three.
So much is different about working with kea compared to kiwi, for starters kea wear their transmitters on their backs like wee backpacks, unlike the kiwi who have their transmitters on their legs. And having wings which flap and flutter in your face while you’re trying to attach their transmitters makes it extremely difficult. You can also get a more definite indication of the sex of a kea by measuring the crown, not like the kiwi as we have difficulty determining sex even after measuring the bill.
By the time we were halfway through putting on the first juvenile’s transmitter the curtains were just about closed on our weather window and then it started raining….so unfortunately we couldn’t get Norman’s transmitter changed. It is too much of a health risk to work with kiwi in the rain; if Norman’s feathers got wet they would stay wet and expose the bird to the cold.
Instead we set off to get some kea signals. We both felt privileged to see the juvenile keas and their beautiful feathers and happy to help another team in Okarito Kiwi Zone.
Me with one of the fantastic kea chicks.
Posted by Lucy – Rowi Field Ranger
Monday, December 21st, 2009 at 8:36 am
Yesterday Hayley, Stephanie (who was volunteering with us for a few days as part of her Duke of Edinburgh programme) and I set off to collect an egg from ‘N Pair’ – otherwise known as Houdini and Godzilla.
Godzilla is a suitable name for this bird as she is notoriously stroppy and in the past we have not risked removing her eggs in case she ended up damaging the shell from stomping in protest. However, it was decided that we should attempt an egg lift on the pair’s second egg of the season to ensure stoats didn’t get to it first!
It was a great day out in the bush for me, the first sunny day in Franz Josef for around two weeks and my first time out into the field since the Untouched World Programme. It was good to get back into it (although the hills were a bit steeper than last time I walked that line!).
It is lovely in the Okarito Kiwi Zone at the moment as the manuka is flowering and the rata, which is a nice addition to the leafy brown and green colours of the canopy.
Hayley tracking the rowi
Hayley located the ‘N pair’ with a TR4 tracking device. She found a close signal off to the left of the track – low and behold we were practically at Godzilla and Houdini’s front door!
The burrow was at the base of a huge tree and veered to the left so we couldn’t see the birds or an egg. We reached in and couldn’t feel anything except mighty, Godzilla-style stomping…
In order to protect the precious egg and avoid stressing the birds, we decided to leave this pair to do their thing and not hang about.
Fearsome Godzilla may have won this battle but we will be visiting her and Houdini once again for a chick catch in a month or so.
Another great day in the bush!
Posted by Rowi Ranger
Tuesday, December 15th, 2009 at 2:00 pm
Our Untouched World experience has come to an end. On the final day the students put together presentations in groups drawing on what they had learnt from their week with us and presented them to the rowi team, the teachers and the public. There was a great turn out from the Okarito community. Most of us were not only impressed, but inspired by the thoughts and effect that the Untouched World project seemed to have on the students and how it had motivated them to, in turn, motivate their peers at home and at their schools.
I think it has been invaluable for the students to step outside the classroom environment and experience conservation management first-hand. The beauty of this area had a real impact on the students and helped them to see how we are all connected to our environment – something that is not always easy to remember in more urban areas. Okarito was definitely a great place for the students to be based, as it is such a good example of a community that cares about their environment and are very conscious of the impact their lifestyles have on their surroundings. Everyone was touched by the welcoming nature of the locals who kindly put on a BBQ for us all on the final day.
One such local was Ian Cooper who runs a business from Okarito doing kiwi tours. Ian spoke to the students about his business, showing them how a living can be made locally and in a sustainable way. Executive Director of BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust, Michelle Impey, also spoke to the students about the positive impact you can make in any work situation – how you can work for large companies and still promote conservation and sustainability. This message was really important, as it showed the students that sustainability is about everything we do and should be integral to every job we do.
Photo by: Michelle Impey
Photo by: Petr Hlavacek
Another highlight of the week for me was taking a group of students to do an egg rescue on a bird called CeeCee, We were stoked to be able to show the students a kiwi egg! The students had heaps of questions about what we had just done and that was great, I loved to see them so excited about something that I get so excited about.
Then we showed the students how we process the egg, weighing it, washing it, and candling it to determine its age. It is quite amazing to candle an egg and see the embryo and the beautiful vein network.
It’s been an amazing week for all who were involved and I hope to be involved in the future. I would love to see how this has impacted the students in the long-term and how they manage to take their impressions and experiences back to their communities in a constructive way. Watch this space…
Posted by savethekiwi
Monday, December 14th, 2009 at 8:28 am
I was lucky enough to take a few days out of the office in Auckland lsat week to join the amazing group of kids on the Kiwi Forever programme. I joined them for an egg rescue during the day, where we split into three groups. Each group was accompanied by a kiwi ranger, and went in search of kiwi eggs. Two of the three groups found a rowi egg, and transported them back to the incubators at Franz Josef where they were ‘candled’ to view the stages of development.
Candling a rowi egg. Photo Petr Hlavacek
On Thursday the kids presented (in groups) to members of the community about the significance of their week. I was heartened to hear the messages that came through. This is our next generation that will take up the reins on kiwi work and part of our role as a Trust is ensuring that we educate every New Zealander how they can help.
Presentation on the last day.