Posted by Duncan – Rowi Team Leader
Thursday, November 25th, 2010 at 3:43 pm
Apologies that things have been quiet lately but we’re all super busy monitoring the returned chicks and collecting eggs right now and today is no exception. Sunny skies have lightened our load a little however and made today’s task of saving one of our new North Okarito birds, that little bit easier.
The young rowi in question managed to make quite an impressive journey out of the area he was released in, over a huge kahikatea swamp and, terrifyingly, across state highway 6 – beside which he had made the ill-advised decision to set up home!
Tom helps me to carry out a health check on the young rowi.
Alerted to his whereabouts by his transmitter, I was able to take Tom, one of our volunteers, along to find our bird and transport him to a much safer location. After carrying out a health check, we returned him to Okarito Kiwi Zone where he was re-released.
Tom releasing our bird into a convenient burrow.
A reminder to us all to DRIVE CAREFULLY NEAR KIWI ZONES!
Posted by lizzy
Wednesday, November 10th, 2010 at 3:23 pm
Well, the lucky folk at Franz are delighted to have new neighbours – the brand new West Coast Wildlife Centre. The Centre opened its doors over the weekend, in a great event that was well attended by local business owners and residents.
As well as Willowbank (who will receive the majority of the rowi eggs this season) the centre is assisting the BNZ Operation Nest Egg project, and has recently taken four of the rowi eggs us DOC rowi rangers have brought out of the field recently. It is exciting for us to have this right on our doorstep. We will be in close touch with Bridget and Kim (Bridget Wrenn, BNZ Operation Nest Egg head ranger for the centre and Kim Bryan-Walker is her second in command!), who are giving us updates on the development of the eggs. All are currently doing well.
The centre is also hosting four recently hatched rowi chicks. These chicks are all doing well, and are gaining weight at a good pace. The chicks are in a nocturnal house, allowing visitors to the area and locals the chance to view the birds and their behaviour in a captive situation. It has been amazing to quietly watch and hear the chicks as they become bold enough to explore their temporary home!
This week we’ve been hosting The Conservation Volunteers New Zealand to help us out with some of our tasks. This has included putting in a new trap line to protect a sooty shearwater colony, and removing some of the non native plants from the boundary of Okarito Kiwi Zone. The new traps will hopefully further protect the small population of about 40 sooty shearwaters from the usual predator suspects, mostly stoats and rats, as they enter their breeding season.
Conservation Volunteers hard at work putting out new traps for added protection for sootys.
The volunteers were also really excited to have the opportunity to come out with us and assist with an egg rescue on Friday. We will divide into two teams to visit breeding pairs BO (Tegel and mate) and CD (Nemo and Fiscal). We are hoping to rescue a healthy egg from both pairs of birds!
We would like to say a big thank you to the Conservation Volunteers who have been amazing in helping achieve lots this week towards the overall project, not only with rowi, but also to the benefit of another of our protected species, the sooty shearwaters.
Posted by Lucy – Rowi Field Ranger
Thursday, November 4th, 2010 at 11:20 am
So the much anticipated rowi release day arrived! And it was as hectic as we all feared…35 rowi juveniles to be released in one go is unheard off and it was a logistical feat. The auditorium in the visitor centre was overrun with squeaking boxes and we had busy stations with all rangers on deck trying to worm, hydrate and change transmitters on each bird.
Not to mention Rachel, a masters student from Victoria University, who had quite a strict plan on what bird was going where and with who as it was to form part of her thesis looking at dispersal patterns of the juvenile rowi. But to be honest it all went pretty well there was also a lot of media around to cover the momentous day.
For the release we had about eight teams with varying numbers of volunteers to assist in carrying the kiwi and releasing them at their ‘prepared earlier’ spot. In the days prior to the release we’d been out identifying suitable homes for the young birds to share. It’s very cool when you find a really good little nook for them that you know will keep them safe and dry on their first night home.
My release team consisted of three fabulous people, two were DOC staff from Hokitika and Wanaka and one was a local photographer who took some amazing photos on the day.
Due to the remoteness and inaccessibility of our release location, we had to be flown in to the beach by helicopter – and by hoki it was windy! I don’t like flying at the best of times but this was scary. I had the headphones on to talk to the pilot about where to land and had told him I wasn’t a fan of flying so, as the cat was already out of the bag, I thought it was ok to squeal a bit (a bit??) when it got really turbulent…but I was embarrassed to find out that the volunteers could also hear me in their headphones.
But we landed in one piece and set off to our location which took about two hours to walk to – a lot longer than was anticipated – and we released our little bundles into their new homes.
Me returning one of these fantastic birds home.
It was amazing! I love being part of bringing them home and so did everyone involved.
Our young rowi in their new home.
The day was not over for us. It was getting late and we had to make it back to the beach in time for our helicopter pick up, so in a rather dramatic fashion we all ran the whole way out. It was exhausting but man the helicopter flight was beautiful on the way home the sun was setting as we flew toward Franz Josef with amazing views of the Southern Alps in pink and red hues.