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Archive for 'birds'

Women on the Move!

Our local council runs a program called Women on the Move. Each month they organize a day trip to help women get out in the great outdoors, exercise and have some fun. I took a day off writing today and joined their day trip to Tiritiri Matangi.

Tiritiri Matangi means “looking to the wind”. It’s an island sanctuary in the Hauraki Gulf, not far from Auckland. Not that long ago Tiritiri was farmed and the original forest cut down to make way for grassland. The Department of Conservation took over the island and hundreds of volunteers replanted native trees to reforest the island. All pests such as rats, cats, mice and stoats were eradicated. Once this was done some of New Zealand’s rarer birds were introduced to the pest-free sanctuary.

Before we arrived at the island by ferry we were asked to check our shoes and remove mud etc. We also had to check our bags and remove any rats or mice or other pests we found. Luckily I was all safe on that score!

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The weather has been horrid for the last couple of weeks but today it was a gorgeous morning. We walked through the bush, stopping regularly to check out the birds we saw.

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Today we saw:
Kakariki (a green parakeet)
North Island robin
Kokako (very rare)
Wood pigeon
Tui
Bellbirds
Stitchbirds
Whitehead
Saddlebacks
Takahe (thought extinct and rediscovered in 1948)
Fantails
Pukeko

They have kiwis on the island, although they’re nocturnal so we didn’t see any. They also have tuatara but the winter sun wasn’t enough to entice them out of their burrows.

It started raining just as we headed to the lighthouse for lunch. There’s a takahe called Greg. He’s 16 years old and is very bossy and cheeky. He hovered under our tables and tried to grab our sandwiches if we held them within his reach. He wandered inside the coffee shop, much to the amusement of the group of school kids and tried his luck in there before one of the ladies shooed him outside.

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After lunch we explored a little more, checking out the birds at the feeders before we headed down to the wharf to catch the ferry back to inner Auckland. I really enjoyed my day on Tiritiri.

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This is what a normal takahe looks like. They normally graze on grass not sandwiches stolen from lunch boxes.

Inland Island: Karori Wildlife Sanctuary

During our recent trip to Wellington we visited the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. As the name suggests, it’s a special sanctuary for some of our endangered native birds. The 225 hectare site includes two dams that used to supply the city of Wellington with water. It was decided that the dams might break during an earthquake and a decision was made to lower the dams and use the area as an inland island. The first step was to fence the area with pest free fences.

Pest free fences, Karori Sanctuary

These fences stop possums, stoats, weasels, ferrets, rats and mice from entering the sanctuary. Once the fences were installed a pest-control plan was put in place. A year later all 13 major pests in the area were fully eradicated. Thousands of native trees were planted (the area was previously all in pine) and this planting continues. The long-term vision for the project is to return the area to its original undisturbed state and this will take around 500 years.

Some of New Zealand’s endangered wildlife has been released in the pest-free area including brown teal ducks, the little spotted kiwi, giant wetas, tuatara, stitchbird, North Island saddleback, weka, North Island robin and bellbirds to name a few.

On entry to the sanctuary staff checked my bag for mice, cats, rats and other pests. Thankfully, my bag was found pest-free! I know I would have been more shocked than anyone if a mouse had jumped out. We explored some of the many paths, pausing to peer through the treetops searching for birds.

Lower dam, Karori Sanctuary

We sighted saddlebacks and bellbirds, lots of tuis and fantails as well as some kaka (NZ variety of parrot). I’d never seen kaka up close so was fascinated to see them at the feeding stations.

Kaka, Karori Sanctuary

This photo shows two kaka. They’re a green parrot and blend in quite well with the trees, although they’re easy enough to spot because they make an awful screechy noise.

I would have loved to see a tuatara but since it was overcast they were all in their burrows, but we saw native fish and green geckos along with lots of our songbirds.

They also do a nocturnal tour where you can hear the evening song before the birds go to sleep and then go out hunting for the nocturnal kiwi. Maybe we’ll do this during another time. I’d highly recommend a visit to this sanctuary, if you’re ever down this end of the world.



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