Duncan is Back:
Is he a free-spirited adventurer, or just a bit stupid? Is he an amazing flyer to get all the way from the Waitakeres to Glendowie, or is it just that he couldn't turn around once he started downhill?
In any case, after departing from his fellows at the time of their release two years ago, Duncan has been recaptured from his location in the suburban gardens of central Auckland, and put back in his more natural environment amongst the giant podocarps of the Waitakere Ranges, in the predator-controlled "Kokakoville" part of the Ark.
In all seriousness, part of the reason for his long journey probably was that he went too far downhill. The kokako is a poor flyer, which relies on the presence of tall trees to launch from. From there it glides, making horizontal distance while descending. It then climbs, squirrel-like to the top of another suitably tall tree, to launch again. The photograph below, taken by our expert bird tracker Grant Capill, shows a bird in flight, undertaking a typical glide from the top of one large tree to another, and is passing over the smaller tree in the photograph.
Once Duncan had ventured too far into surburbia, all directions might have seemed equally bad. But how he managed to safely traverse so much non-forested territory, and the danger of cats and dogs, is a complete mystery.
The Ark Gets More Helping Hands
Firstly. Mike Cundy a fellow volunteer and retired animal nutritionist has managed to source 380 eggs for us from Bromley Park Hatcheries "home of the Brown Shaver" for our stoat traps
Mike has volunteered to be the collector from Tuakau if those laying hens and their owners smile kindly on the Ark in the future.
Secondly. On behalf of Sellotape/Henkel their product manager Tracey has sponsored coloured bag tape for the Ark to the tune of a supply sufficient to last us for about 5 yrs sealing off our rat bait bags placed in our 4000 or so bait stations.
...UPDATE: Even More Helping Hands:
POP Dining collaborate with other businesses to bring a new dining experience to Auckland by taking over their premises after they close and setting up their own restaurant. They seat people at large communal tables and try to build community around food, while also bringing an awareness to the table about sustainable eating and ethical food practises.
For their most recent event they teamed up with Kokako Cafe and Roastery in Grey Lynn and served a Vegan feast to about 40 people. Kokako Café have asked that the fee that POP Dining would have paid to them be donated to Ark in the Park instead in recognition of our conservation work.
So a big thank you to the teams at POP Dining and Kokako Café and Roastery.
Whitehead/Popokatea Release for Ark in the Park
As part of the Ark in the Park’s on going Whitehead/Popokatea recovery programme, 100 birds from Tiritiri Matangi Island were released on 18th April, near the Waitakere reservoir. Over subsequent days groups have been spotted nearby, exploring their new home, which is enormously larger than their very crowded previous one. No doubt most will spread out over the greater Waitakere Ranges, with the Ark as a safe nucleus for a sustained presence.
Right now in the Ark...
With wasp numbers down to unprecedentedly low levels, the conditions allow us to start our Autumn baiting earlier than usual. Pre-baiting monitoring has confirmed continuing excellent control of rat numbers within the Ark. The first week in April saw volunteers setting out for the start of the next cycle of baiting.
The 2012-13 season will see a focus on consolidating knowledge of the present population (individuals, pairs, ID and origin, sex, location), initial territory surveying, ongoing surveying for nests and/or adults with fledglings, maintaining "rings of steel" and (as possible) daily nest monitoring, and (hopefully) banding of fledglings, and confirmation of recruitment into the population. Auto recording will be used over as much of possible of the whole Ark area, and be used to target on-ground work on foot. The aim is to protect the population, and to consolidate knowledge about them that can guide future management, including evaluation of top-up translocation needs.
Every year since the first release of 53 robins in 2005 Ark volunteers (with overseas students a key element) have sought out nest sites and monitored the breeding success of the pairs - typically three clutches of 2-3 chicks per season. In the 2010 breeding season we located the nests of 11 pairs (and of course there will be a lot more we didn't discover), and new nesting territories, thanks to the efforts of volunteers who have spread out and found where the birds have settled. Anyone who is interested in helping should contact our Volunteer Coordinator. Volunteers need to have time available Monday to Friday, and to be fit enough to move off-track through our steep and slippery bush.
These birds are some of the most charming to be found in the New Zealand bush, with their quiet inquisitive nature making them easy to study and enjoy. Above is a picture taken recently by one of our star robin-finders, Grant Capill, who is shown to the right, hard at work or, just possibly, asleep.
Heidrun and Keryn have been doing a magnificent job on the Auckland City walk finding and protecting robin nests from stoats with John Stewart helping to band fledglings. On one day Heidrun saw 15 birds and one chick!
Our latest rat monitoring, in March, showed 2.1% rat presence, compared to 73% in tunnels located outside the Ark.
Check out the graphs showing monitoring results [click here]
Meanwhile, the Stoaters continue to tramp around their circuits, with 142 mustelids, and 264 rats caught in the year ending 30 June 2012 (check out the maps showing their results).
Then there's the teams attacking weeds, navigators extending lines to fill in gaps..