Posted by Lucy – Rowi Field Ranger
Friday, February 26th, 2010 at 3:32 pm
Last night Australia got to watch us in action saving rowi on their science programme ‘Catalyst’. It’s awesome to know these birds are valued internationally. (We were also vey impressed by Rowi Team Leader – Duncan Kay’s eye-catching moustache!).
You can watch the footage online by visiting Catalyst: New Zealand rowi – ABC science
However we have also had some sad news. Sky Ranger – the cutting-edge technology we use to monitor rowi – recently recorded one of our newly-released young birds, ‘Bubbles’, as dead
Before we got too upset we comforted ourselves that there is always the possibility that the transmitter is in mortality mode because it has fallen from the kiwi’s leg. The transmitter changes to a quick mortality pulse if it records no movement from the kiwi for a 24 hour period. This can mean that the bird is dead or that the transmitter has fallen off. Only one way to find out…
Anna and I set out to find Bubbles armed with all our detective gear. His signal was coming from the edge of an area called the Pakihi, (close to the recent Okarito fires) and very close to Okarito Lagoon…in fact it looked as if Bubbles was in the lagoon! …
Strangely Anna and I could not pick up any signal for the young rowi along any of the tracks close to where his signal was received by Sky Ranger. This was very odd as the entire area is a flat, swampy sort of forest, and the signal should not be blocked by terrain. More frustratingly, nor could we get a signal when we tried from the highest point in the area. We even tried driving up and down Okarito road with our telemetry gear…nothing…
Bubbles where are you?…
The last option was for Anna and I to take Kayaks onto Okarito Lagoon and listen for signals from the water. It’s days like these I have to remind myself how lucky I am to work in such an amazing place! Then suddenly…. beep beep beep beep…
Got ya Bubbles!…
It didn’t take us long to find him lying under a fern. We were very sad not to find him alive and, unfortunately, not in a state where we could find out exactly what had happened to him. It looked like he had just laid down on his side and died. We put Bubbles in our Kayak and paddled on home…a sad outcome after a beautiful day out on Okarito Lagoon.
Anna with the kyaks on Okarito Lagoon.
Posted by Duncan – Rowi Team Leader
Friday, February 19th, 2010 at 3:39 pm
The rowi team have just received an exciting (well…exciting if you’re a proud technology nerd like me) parcel of 100 new rowi chick-timer transmitters from Sirtrack.
Rowi chick with transmitter. Photo: Liz Brown.
The next three and a half months are going to be action-packed for the team, with the hefty job of running around the forest to catch all of the monitored birds to give them a new transmitter.
Each transmitter contains a battery to power it but, because kiwi can only carry so much weight, the batteries we use can only power the transmitter for one year. As a result once a year we need to track down each rowi to give it a new transmitter before the old one loses power and we can no longer locate it.
Rowi transmitter. Photo: Sirtrack.
The rowi chick-timer transmitters are very intelligent; they are able to determine the activity of the rowi, i.e. the amount of time a rowi is out feeding. By recording this information the transmitter is able determine when a rowi is incubating an egg and then once the egg gets older, that the egg has hatched into a chick. With the use of a receiver we can hear this information though a series of beeps given off by the transmitter. This will tell us how long the rowi has been incubating its egg. Using this information we can work out the date we can go rescue the egg, at around 30 days old, and hatch it safely away from predators such as stoats.
During the transmitter changes is also a great time to assess the health of each rowi. Every rowi we catch is weighed and checked over to make sure it has no abnormalities or is in poor health. Once we are happy the birds are healthy and the transmitter is attached we put them back in their homes to roam the wilds of the Okarito Kiwi Zone for another year.
It is thanks to these transmitters that we could tell that birds with ranges affected by last week’s fires were, thankfully, not killed. No thanks, however, to those who deliberately started these! We’ll keep you posted on progress with finding the culprits including a very generous local reward for information – watch this space!
Firefighters tackle deliberately-started fires in Okarito Kiwi Zone. Photo: Tony Preston.
Posted by lizzy
Monday, February 8th, 2010 at 3:42 pm
The rowi team is in disbelief that fires threatening this critically endangered species could have been deliberately started.
Five fires could potentially have killed at least two rowi pairs within Okarito Kiwi Zone and may have done a great deal more damage had the local community, Franz Fire brigade, helicopter crew and DOC fire-fighters, not responded so quickly.
The first four fires were spotted from a helicopter about 3 am yesterday, with the largest spreading over an area of about 500 sqm. Another suspicious fire was discovered overnight by the side of State Highway 6.
Franz staff went out to check on the status of these birds this morning and we all had an extremely anxious wait to see what they found. Rowi are priceless and any loss of genes from the small pool of birds would seriously set back our quest to save the species.
At around 2 pm we were incredibly relieved to hear that all the birds with territories threatened by the fire, were safe!
Contact the local police to report any suspicious behaviour in the Okarito area.
Thanks to everyone who helped us save these vulnerable birds.