On Wednesday me and Ian Cooper (of Okarito Kiwi Tours) went to the Pakihi in Okarito Kiwi Zone to rescue an egg from BQ Pair (Fancy and Jolene). These birds are one of four pairs that are part of Ian’s kiwi tour.
We tracked into Fancy excited about a good incubation signal. When we got to the burrow we were able to get a hand in but could not find an egg. For a moment we were a bit confused but then Ian spied a chick sitting at the end of the burrow.
Me and the wee chick.
If we leave eggs and chicks in the wild they are unlikely to survive as stoats kill a huge proportion of these birds while they are too small to defend themselves. As it was quite an easy burrow to reach into, we successfully collected up the little bird and brought it back to the West Coast Wildlife Centre.
The wee rowi was given a health check and then place into a brooder with some food. It will live at the West Coast Wildlife Centre until it has put on a bit of weight and is ready to go to Motuara – our stoat-free creche island in the Sounds.
Student Anna Maria, Thursday night: “I can’t believe how fast the week has gone! It’s been such an amazing time and I have learned so much!”
Our second brilliant kiwi Forever Untouched World project (see our old blog about last year’s) took place this week, with 15 students and 5 student teachers arriving at Okarito on Sunday afternoon to a sunny day that would set the standard for most of the week. They weren’t quite sure what they were in for during the week, or what the DOC team would be like, and they were just getting to know each other. However, after a powhiri to welcome them to the area, and a barbeque lunch with the DOC team, Makaawhio representatives, and the Okarito community, everyone seemed to feel right at home.
The group 'talks rubbish' in Okarito.
The week has involved practical work during the day, joining the rangers to rescue a total of three eggs, and performing health checks on three juvenile rowi. The students learned how telemetry (kiwi tracking equipment) works, and how to navigate in the thick bush of Okarito forest.
The students have also been introduced to the ecosystem and history of the area by local residents, exploring the Okarito wetland and learning about the gold mining history of the town with Paula.
The group heads out into Okarito Lagoon.
In the evenings, and during rest stops, they’ve learned about some of the big issues that surround the kiwi, and have had some great discussions with the team and guest speakers. Why is the kiwi worth protecting? Should we be changing the way we live if it can help the ecosystem around us? Can tourism and the kiwi benefit from each other?
The students have also had a chance to give something back to the community that they have been a part of for the week, planting trees and shrubs around the campground in which they have been staying. They also participated in the Love Your Beach event, and were the southernmost team to participate on the West Coast. The Untouched World group led the clean up of Okarito beach with Franz Josef school students aged between 4 and 12 and audited the rubbish at the end.
Auditing rubbish after the beach clean.
Today is the last full day of an amazing week, and the students are working away at the presentations they’ll be giving this afternoon to the community and to their own communities when they return home.
Bridget from the rowi hatching facilities at the West Coast Wildlife Centre called us last week to say their first egg had pipped and was likely to hatch in the next few days. Happily their first rowi kiwi chick hatched at 6 pm on 26 November – four days later.
Wawe's pipped egg.
Named ‘Wawe’ (meaning ‘first, be, before’) by rowi kaitiaki (guardians) Te Runanga o Makaawhio, health checks by staff at the centre confirm that the chick is chatty, healthy and very alert.
Wawe at two days old.
Wawe will be at the West Coast Wildlife Centre until three to four weeks of age before being transferred to Motuara Island, a predator-free kiwi crèche in the Marlborough Sounds, as part of BNZ Operation Nest Egg.
Wawe at five days old.
The public can come face to face with rowi and meet Canterbury earthquake survivor ‘Richter’ at the centre over the next few weeks.