Posted by Iain – BNZ Operation Nest Egg Ranger (Rowi)
Thursday, July 29th, 2010 at 1:34 pm
This week we dropped off another unproductive pair to Blumine/Oruawairua. The plan is to get five pairs on the Island this season but it seems our rowi have plans of their own.
Rowi often have quite elaborate burrows, these make great homes as they are hard for other animals (including humans) to get into. Our birds have been taking full advantage of this, meaning that during the first move we were only able to collect three pairs and on this occasion we set off for Blumine with only one pair – Norman and Jean.
Lucy collecting Norman.
Sneak and Snock, our last pair, remain at large…for now!
We released Norman and Jean on our way out to Motuara (the crèche island for the BNZ Operation Nest Egg chicks) and also spent time circling Blumine to get signals for the pairs already there – noting some interesting results.
Three of the birds, Socrates, Lazza, and Nightcrawler, were in the same bays they had been released, but others had been on some wee adventures.
Kermit had left his partner, Gonzo, and crossed to the other side of the island. Quick to take advantage of this, Nightcrawler has convinced Gonzo to come join him in his new territory. Unimpressed with her (ex)partner’s behaviour, Stealth has ditched Nightcrawler and headed north.
We just hope this new pairing may prove successful in reproducing – we’ll keep you posted.
Posted by Iain – BNZ Operation Nest Egg Ranger (Rowi)
Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 at 2:30 pm
Last week I went to check up on a bird I had caught a few weeks earlier and I was surprised by what I found.
I had caught the bird a few weeks ago by calling it in at night. Because kiwi are very plucky and territorial we are able to bring them to us by imitating the male call. We are then able to catch the male when he comes in to fight to protect his territory and mate. However the male I caught was not the male we thought was in that territory. He was a BNZ Operation Nest Egg offspring from 2006. Because there had been a shakeup in this territory we needed to see if he had a partner.
Rein locates the burrow.
Knowing that it was close to breeding time I cautiously tracked into the pair, led by Rein’s keen nose. She led me directly to the burrow and when I looked inside not only did I see two birds but, off to the side, the burrow also contained our first egg of the season. This was Rein’s first time to find an egg!
The birds were not sitting on the egg and it was in a place that suggested the birds had not been incubating it. I needed to think quickly what I was going to do. The egg could be quite young which makes it harder to incubate successfully but it didn’t look like the birds were going to be sitting on it.
I decided I needed to take a closer look at it so I reached in to retrieve it. The egg was still slightly warm but it was obvious they had not sat on it that day. Its best chance was to take it back to an incubator at the office.
Me, Rein and the first egg of the season.
We candled the egg back at Franz. As it had a really small air cell and we could not see any development we determined that it was quite a fresh egg. It will be incubated for 15 days and by this time, if it is a good egg, we will see some development.
Being such a young egg its chances for hatching are not great, let’s cross our fingers for this wee egg.
Posted by Duncan – Rowi Team Leader
Thursday, July 15th, 2010 at 3:24 pm
We had some sad news from the last Sky Ranger flight; the transmitter belonging to a male rowi named Mr Sumo was indicating a mortality.
Mr Sumo was from one of the original pairs monitored in the early 90s to research how often rowi lay eggs and what was causing the population to decline.
When we get a mortality signal it’s really important to find out what is happening as soon as possible. If there is a disease or rogue dog killing kiwi we need to act fast so that more birds do not die.
I headed out into his territory to find out what was going on. I was hoping that it was just a false mortality (this can happen if the transmitter falls off before it should or if the transmitter gets damaged) and not a dead Mr Sumo.
Mr Sumo’s home is 1 km south of Okarito lagoon, it is quite close to the road and after the incident with Cee Cee this was the first place I needed to check. I did not get a signal on the road so I was still optimistic of the false mort.
I headed into the forest and, once I got to the top of the first ridge, I got a good signal for him, “dam, it’s indicating a mortality”.
Still crossing my fingers he was alive I left the track to find him. I tracked down into a gulley and then back onto another ridge. The forest was quite damp and swampy, it felt like I was getting to the edge of his territory.
Back onto a ridge the travel was a bit easier and after a few minutes I came across poor Mr Sumo’s body lying not too far from a patch of Gahnia. His body was quite decomposed and the transmitter was telling me he had been dead for nearly 40 days.
The 'crime scene' containing the remains of Mr Sumo
I now needed to do some ‘CSI’ work to find out the cause of death. First I examined the surrounding area, about two meters around the carcass for anything that could suggest predation. I was looking for any signs of a struggle, looking for scuff marks, piles of feathers or anything that would suggest he had been attacked.
With nothing found in this search I now needed to examine his carcass. I looked at the position of his body, if it is stashed under bushes this can suggest predation as a lot of predators will not eat out in the open for fear of something attacking them.
The body was not stashed so now I looked more closely at the body to see if there were any signs of attack. Stoats will attack at the neck where as dogs will just rip the bird to pieces, I could not see any these signs on his body.
With nothing left to search in the field I packaged him up and headed for home.
His body will be sent to Massey Wildlife Health Centre were they can do test to see if he has died from any diseases.
Posted by Hayley – Rowi Field Ranger
Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 at 11:30 am
This entry comes from Emma and Brooke (aged 8) from a recent visit to their school. I thought I’d leave it in their words! Pretty awesome to see the excitment generated by our visit.
“We were so lucky! A kiwi came to Grovetown School. The kiwi was on its way from Christchurch to Motuara Island in the Marlborough Sounds.
Iain and Hayley from DOC told us that there are different kinds of kiwi and there are not many left. They don’t know yet if this kiwi is a boy or girl yet so we are suggesting some unisex names for it. We found out that kiwi are superfast runners and they are related to cassowary birds from Australia.
Iain had his dog with him too. She is a specially trained dog who helps find kiwi.
We thought it was really special meeting a kiwi because not many people ever get the chance.” (Emma and Brooke)