Posted by lizzy
Monday, December 19th, 2011 at 10:20 am
From right to left: Me, Lynda, Duncan, Jools, a big bucket full of money and Sarah.
Topp Twins add humour and sparkle to rowi story
The start of 2011 saw kiwi icons the Topp Twins give their supprt for the rowi project at their Blenheim hoe-down. This was a hum-dinger of a show, combining alt-country and bluegrass talent with humour, love and generosity.
Ranger Anna Colombus and the awesome students at Whataroa.
Whataroa School protect kiwi neighbours
In spring 2010, several young rowi made history by being released into north Okarito forest – an area that they have not been recorded living in for many decades. For the first time in many years, the people of Whataroa have kiwi living almost on their doorsteps – close enough to hear them calling at night! The students of Whataroa School have adopted these young birds and will be involved in recording their progress into the future.
Bridget Wrenn from the West Coast Wildlife Centre, holding the healthy egg.
First egg of the 2011 season!
The first rowi egg for the new breeding season came from Jack and Roberta (M pair) who live just south of Three Mile Lagoon, north of Okarito township. The healthy egg was 31 days old and went to be incubated at the West Coast Wildlife Centre.
Thank you Linwood College!
Stellar fundraising efforts
It was nearly a whole year ago that a group of Untouched World students made their way out of the bush, following a successful rescue of a kiwi egg. One enterprising student accompanied the rowi team on that mission – 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.
Haast ranger Bevan Cameron holds a rowi.
Haast and Franz join forces for kiwi conservation
Bodiversity assets teams from Franz Josef and South Westland have joined together and become one team. For staff this is exciting as it has resulted in more opportunities to work across biodiversity programmes and get involved in programmes such as pest control, rowi management, the critically endangered Haast tokoeka kiwi management and tawaki (Fiordland crested penguin) monitoring.
LEARNZ field trip teacher Andrew Penny holds a rowi.
Rowi in classrooms across NZ
In September, over 100 classes from all over the country joined LEARNZ field trip teacher Andrew Penny online to meet and talk with kiwi experts, as well as access a range of internet-based material related to BNZ Operation Nest Egg .
Anna and the little wild chick.
First wild chick of the 2011 breeding season
In october, rowi ranger Anna Colombus successfully located the first chick of the season to be monitored in the forest rather than in captivity. Due to a 1080 operation in the kiwi zone, just prior to the chick-hatching season, we have been able to leave some chicks to grow naturally in the forest.
Smitha and daughter Gauri release rowi 'Dilly' into her new burrow in north Okarito forest.
Rowi rangers’ best part of the year – bringing the birds home!
November brought the part of the year rowi rangers love best, when they get to bring the healthy young kiwi back home to Okarito forest. Amongst the 15 birds being released were the two rowi named last year by Lynda and Jools Topp – ‘Pongo’ and ‘Dilly’. The Topp Twins wished their kiwi luck saying “Do us proud girls – go find yourselves a nice Kiwi bloke and multiply!” A fantastic way to round-off our year.
Posted by lizzy
Tuesday, December 13th, 2011 at 8:11 am
At the moment we are busy checking our wee rowi chicks that are in the forest with their parents, with a small transmitter attached.
I recently went out to an area in the forest we call Alpine Lake to visit a pair of birds called Charger and Dawn. We were hoping they would have a new chick with them. They had been sitting studiously on their egg for over 70 days now, so the chick was due to hatch.
A very young wild rowi chick.
I started my day off in the best way possible, with a helicopter flight into the heart of the Okarito forest, where they dropped me off at one of our huts.
It was such a beautiful clear day and was amazing to fly over the forest and see the area that I would soon be walking!
After a safe drop off, I set off on my adventure alongside Alpine Lake and up over a couple of small hills to my turn-off.
Eventually I got to the area where this pair’s territory begins and used my transceiver to listen for a signal for the birds. Each bird has a specific frequency on the transmitter attached to its leg, so that we can find them in the forest.
I got a signal for the birds and began to track into them off the track…
The signal took me along and then up a hill towards the top of a ridge. Suddenly I was getting a booming, loud signal all around me so was able to move my aerial around and figure out where they were sleeping in their burrow. I found the entrance and quietly peeked in to see the adults sitting together at the back of the burrow.
I slid my hand in and under the male, who didn’t move at all as I felt around under him and suddenly got hold of a very small leg, a chick!
Fitting the transmitter to the little chick.
I gently lifted it from the burrow, fitted a transmitter on its leg and weighed and checked it over. It looked to be a very healthy chick, only 252 grams!
I took it back to the burrow and quietly put it back with its parents and it snuck back between them…..a great result!
The other work I’ve undertaken this week was little blue penguin/korora monitoring. Every two weeks I walk down past the 3-Mile lagoon to where I monitor the colony to see how their chicks are doing.
The breeding season is well under way now with all active burrows having hatched their eggs. It has been quite a long period of monitoring as the adults start to lay their eggs in August.
Korora usually have two eggs each season and will raise both chicks. Once the chicks hatch there is a guard period of four weeks or so when one of the parents will be with the chicks at all times.
Over the last couple of weeks, before the chicks fledge and head out to sea to fend for themselves, they will be left alone for a day or two, as both parents are out trying to get enough food to feed their nearly full-sized chicks.
A little blue penguin guards its burrow.
At this time the chicks are getting their waterproof feathers through and it is quite hard to tell the difference between them and their parents, although the adults are generally much more aggressive and will try to bite the burrowscope while the chicks hide at the back of the nest!
I will continue to monitor the chicks until they have all fledged, usually around Christmas time.
This week I noticed that there were many empty nests as the chicks have left to begin their adult life at sea. It is nice to see an empty nest and know the parents have done a great job at raising their two chicks successfully….
Posted by Anna – Rowi Field Ranger
Monday, December 5th, 2011 at 9:55 am
Last week I headed out for the day with Fiona, who was taking a day off from working at the West Coast Wildlife Centre to join me in Okarito forest to help with checking our newborn rowi chicks.
We had two pairs of rowi that we were hoping would have a newborn chick each, so we headed out for our walk to look for the birds.
These birds live relatively close together, although they still have their own territories so keep their distance from each other!
With the help of Skyranger, we were waiting for these birds to finish incubating an egg each and were hopeful they would both have a chick hatched and well in the burrow with them. Rowi incubate one egg for around 75 days before it hatches out to a miniature rowi – all ready to eat invertebrates and worms and look after itself.
First, we went to visit Timone and her mate. We got a signal for their transmitter, which is attached to her leg. In this way we can find her no matter which burrow she may be sleeping in for the day.
We tracked in quietly through the forest following the loudest signal until we came to their burrow, a huge fallen tree on the side of a hill-slope near the top of a ridge.
After carefully crawling around the log trying to find the entrance, I saw a large hole that disappeared into the log. On closer inspection there were a few kiwi feathers so I quietly shone my torch in to see if I could view the birds. Timone and her mate were both sitting inside the entrance, however I could not see a chick or any egg.
I was sure there was no chick with them, however I decided we should still visit them on another day to see if the chick just may have been sleeping close by….
Next we headed back along the track to get a signal for Rupert and his girlfriend, hoping that this visit would be more successful.
Again we tracked in quietly and as we got close I whispered to Fiona to be as quiet as possible. We were just about to start walking up closer to a large log as there was a loud crashing and the female ran past us as we stood quietly looking on! She must have been sitting at the entrance and heard us coming….we quickly moved up to the now obvious burrow entrance and I knelt down to check inside.
Our beautiful, wild rowi chick.
The male was still sitting quietly with a very furry, very small chick beside him!
I reached inside and gently pulled the chick out so that Fiona and I could weigh him and attach a miniature transmitter to his leg. He was a perfect, gorgeous chick, we both felt very excited and priviledged to have seen him in the wild with his parents!
Fiona holding the little chick.
We will now keep an eye on the chick over the next year or so to see how he grows.