Posted by Anna – Rowi Field Ranger
Monday, August 29th, 2011 at 11:27 am
A couple of months ago Frauke, my friend and colleague from Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch, came to stay for the week with her two children, Josh and Alex.
Frauke is one of the head kiwi rangers at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve – one of our hatching facilities for rowi eggs.
Frauke has an extremely important job – ensuring our rowi eggs hatch and subsequently put on enough weight so that they are ready for the next step; Motuara Island.
After all the excitement in Christchurch over the last year, Frauke and the kids were more than ready for some west coast adventures for the week!
I show Alex and Josh where we're going.
It was perfect timing as we were right in the middle of one of our busy times of year. Because rowi breed between August to January, we use the months from February to June to visit them and change their transmitters which have a battery life of one year.
We prefer not to handle the birds during the breeding season as don’t want to disturb them and the females may also be gravid (have an egg growing inside them).
I had the perfect adventure for the four of us….we needed to find a breeding pair of adult rowi, called BW, so that we could remove the old transmitter and attach a new one.
The transmitters are very important sources of information for us. Not only do they help us find our rowi in the forest, but the transmitters can tell us whether the adults are sitting on an egg and how old that egg might be!
The transmitter gives us this information by putting out a series of beeps that we can listen to, to determine what they are up to. They respond to the movement of kiwi. If an egg is laid, the kiwi’s activity decreases dramatically as it needs to sit on the egg to incubate it, so it is not able to go out to feed as much. The transmitter picks this up and gives us this information.
However at this time of year, when the kiwi are not breeding, we just want to find them in their burrow so that we can give them a new transmitter.
So myself, Frauke, Josh and Alex headed out for our big day in Okarito forest!
The pair we were looking for live in an area called 3-mile, near the 3-mile lagoon.
We walked down the beach from Okarito, looking out for dolphins cruising the coastline. As we came to the 3-mile lagoon inlet we had a breath-taking view of Okarito forest with the rugged southern alps in the background. We could just see Mt Cook/Aoraki and Mt Tasman pushing out through the clouds! Amazing!
After a snack we walked down the beach and then into the forest where our adventure continued through swampy areas filled with kiekie and supplejack and other vegetation that is certainly not easy to push through!
We finally got a signal for our bird and followed the beeps off our worn track and through the bush – Josh and Alex easily jumping over fallen logs and sliding under low branches. We even found a rimu tree with branches filled with fresh seeds that we tasted on the way past!
Alex collects important data about Dowell.
Eventually we were getting a strong signal to suggest our bird was very close. We quietly and carefully put our gear down and searched the logs to find an entrance and soon found our bird, called Dowell, tucked up asleep inside a long log. We were able to gently get him out and Josh and Alex helped with the important information collecting of his weight, feather collection and transmitter number. Frauke held him while I fitted his new transmitter onto his leg.
Once we had finished we put Dowell gently back into his burrow and moved away quickly so that we would not disturb him anymore. Then Josh and Alex helped me to find our way back to the track and then back to the beach. We stomped through the wet, muddy swamp, knowing we all had a nice hot shower awaiting us at home!
Frauke with Alex, Josh and Dowell the kiwi.
Thanks so much for the wonderful help for the day guys!
Posted by Anna – Rowi Field Ranger
Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011 at 12:21 pm
It was nearly a whole year ago that myself and a group of Untouched World students made our way out of the bush, following a successful rescue of a kiwi egg. This was taken to the West Coast Wildlife centre as part of our BNZ Operation Nest Egg programme where we rescue eggs from the forest to protect them from the jaws of stoats.
One enterprising student accompanied us on our mission that day – Perry Hyde from Linwood College. Perry went back to his school’s environmental club with the thought of sponsoring ‘his’ little kiwi in some way. They brainstormed and came up with several ideas, eventually settling on a mufti day and tug of war, to raise money for the rowi programme.
Students take part in the tug of war.
Unfortunately I was not there for what looked like an amazing, fun day but I got some thoughts from the students on their day….
“Everyone in Wai was really excited to raise money for the Kiwi. Everyone was dressed up in house colours and it was awesome for Wai house to win the tug-of-war and to get the Kiwi named after our house!” -Becca Lane, Head of Wai house
“We all had a great time taking part in the event and were also able to show our support for not only our houses but the conservation of our national icon, which added a great deal of importance to what we were competing for.” Daniel Byrnes, Environmental Leader
“It was great fun raising money for the Kiwi, and everyone really wanted to win the naming rights for the Rowi chick.” Perry Hyde, Enviro-Group member
Thank you Linwood College!
The winners of the tug of war had naming rights for their kiwi. ‘Wai’, the maori word for ‘water’ was their name of choice! Wai has been growing up for the last few months on Motuara Island, enjoying exploring the island with the other 35 kiwi chicks from our 2010/2011 season. They will be ready for a return to Okarito forest in October.
Good on you Perry and Linwood College for showing great inititive in helping to contribute to the conservation of our rarest kiwi!
Posted by lizzy
Tuesday, August 16th, 2011 at 5:17 pm
Last week I went with Bridget Wrenn from the West Coast Wildlife Centre to rescue the first rowi egg for the new breeding season from Jack and Roberta (M pair).
The pair lives just south of Three Mile Lagoon, north of Okarito township.
View from Three Mile Beach.
After a beautiful walk down the beach and a steep climb up the ridge we were able to get a good signal for Jack. We found them in a previously-used breeding burrow. This borrow is very long but we were able to find a hole and Bridget was able to reach in and retrieve the egg.
Bridget reaches for the egg.
The healthy egg was 31 days old and will be incubated at the West Coast Wildlife Centre. When it hatches it will stay in the centre’s nocturnal house where it will be on display for a year along with three other young rowi.
Bridget holding the healthy egg.
Let’s hope it’s the first of many eggs for this season.
Posted by lizzy
Monday, August 8th, 2011 at 9:29 am
In the first week of August, Whataroa School students went out on their first visit to the North Okarito rowi population and assisted with transmitter changes on two birds.
You’ll remember from an earlier post (Whataroa School protects kiwi neighbours) that Whataroa School named the North Okarito rowi and are following their progress with interest, as these are first rowi to live within calling distance of Whataroa township.
On Tuesday 2 August, Jade, Renee, Monty, Andrew, Kent and Monty’s dad, Richard, joined Duncan and Cornelia on a mission to change the transmitter on ‘Rose’.
Duncan looks for a signal.
After a few false starts when the transmitter signal was being confused by the transmitters on two monitored kea who live nearby, the team tracked into a patch of forest where Rose was sheltering under a log. When Duncan got too close for Rose’s liking she decided to run! Luckily she ran straight towards Cornelia, who managed to catch her before she got away.
Richard helps Duncan change Rose's transmitter.
It was very exciting for the students to meet a kiwi, and be part of the process of changing her transmitter, and checking her health.
After checking Rose’s condition carefully, Duncan was able to confirm that she’s healthy, growing and putting on weight as she should. Rose was released back under her log, and we’ll see her again in a year’s time.
Rose the kiwi.
On the following day, Jorja, Aimee, Laurie and their mum Rose came out with Cornelia, and met Duncan in the forest. (Aime and Laurie had named yesterday’s kiwi Rose a few months ago after their mum, so that was a coincidence!)
Duncan was pretty sure that ‘Richie’ was close by and was confident we’d be able to find him to change his transmitter fairly easily. The tracking turned out to be easy, but getting Richie out of his log proved impossible! After what seemed like hours of searching for a way in, and reaching as far along the hollow in the log as we could, we had to admit defeat.
Duncan picked up another signal though, belonging to ‘Coolio’, so we decided to see if we could find him instead.We found Coolio’s burrow after a short tramp, but after some more searching and poking and hunting, we still couldn’t reach him.
The students stayed cheerful, even though they were disappointed not to have met a kiwi, and we were just about to head for home. However, Cornelia had one last look where we though the signal was strongest, and caught a glimpse of Coolio’s bill among the moss, wet wood and leaf litter. Duncan had one more go, and managed to extract Coolio from his hidey-hole.
Duncan changes Coolio's transmitter.
The students were really happy to get to meet Coolio after all, and watched with interest as Duncan changed his transmitter and checked his health. The students found it interesting that Coolio (being a male) was smaller and lighter than Rose (who’s a female), and were happy to hear that this is normal for kiwi and he was also strong and healthy.
We’ll keep you posted when the next North Okarito rowi have a visit from their fans in Whataroa.