In New Zealand we have our special icon, the Kiwi. This is the only country in the world where Kiwi live. They make their burrows in the undergrowth and enjoy running about searching for worms and spiders.
However, with such a lot of predators now, it is wise to have Kiwi either in a safely fenced or pest monitored area. At Tawharanui we have just that right situation, with the Predator Proof Fence across the Tokatu Point at the termination of Tawharanui Peninsular, giving freedom to all native creatures within.
Kiwi breed around Autumn each year, once they are old enough. This is about two years old. They like to call at twilight which is the two hours after the sun goes down. So Kiwi Call Monitoring occurs when volunteers sit during those two hours usually 6 – 8pm, in June each year, silently listening for the calls.
Once the first call is heard then a count is commenced, slowly, sometimes reaching to over 20 times. These are usually the male birds with their shrill high whistles. Then occasionally a female will call with her lower guttural tones. Sometimes, all is then quiet. Perhaps they have found their mate!
Once the two hours is completed the volunteers collect together again at their base for supper and a chat about their evening event.
Sitting out in the dark at this time can be very cold in New Zealand. So good warm woolly and dry clothing is essential. Usually dry nights with little wind are chosen. The moon is rarely visible. Try it sometime – it’s a thrilling experience!
With about 90 percent of New Zealand’s wetland lost over the past 150 years, Fish & Game NZ realises there’s a compelling need to assess the role that ponds play in successfully managing waterfowl.
Ponds have been established across the New Zealand landscape for various purposes including stock watering, irrigation, storm water capture, effluent ponding, waterfowl habitat and simple aesthetic values. Currently, there’s little scientific information on what, and how big a role these ponds play as habitat for waterfowl populations.
The aim of this ‘citizen science’ project is to determine what pond habitat features provide good breeding for waterfowl, and promote good pond management practices for breeding these birds. Fish & Game has launched an appeal for people who want to monitor waterfowl populations on ponds around their area. The aim is to establish a network of ponds to be closely monitored over the breeding season.
You don’t have to be a scientist! All volunteers will be given a set of simple instructions on how to go about monitoring. Fish & Game will supply a manual with simple instructions on how to run their surveys – so everyone round the country is tackling the project the same way, and volunteers gather the best data possible.
If you’re keen to help with collection of data and are prepared to monitor a pond, a fun and fulfilling project that will help New Zealand’s waterfowl and other native water dependant birds, this project is for you. Don’t forget – we are keen to hear from a wide range of people, including youngsters. Kids – depending on your age, you may need to line up support from mum and dad, a friend or relation.
Your help in this project will not only provide data to drive management decisions, but will give waterfowl enthusiasts, hunters and landowners a unique opportunity to get involved and make a real hands on contribution to our efforts to manage waterfowl – and keep their numbers up!
DU director and bittern expert Emma Williams’ workload has become a whole lot busier after she was appointed science advisor (wetland birds) for the Department of Conservation in October.
A fulltime job for four years, her main task is to deliver the national bittern research plan. The role also involves work with other wetland birds such as spotless crakes and marsh crakes with the aim of setting up new collaborations with organisations to try to fill some of the knowledge gaps about cryptic and native wetland birds.
Projects include working with Stephen Hartley and students at Victoria University in Wairarapa Moana. One of the current projects involves putting out artificial bittern nests in several study sites, including Wairio, to determine what predators are targeting bitterns.
Emma says new bittern monitoring projects in South Kaipara, Auckland region, Tauranga and Turangi are expanding DOC’s national monitoring reach. The goal is to identify where bittern strongholds and hot spots are and inform where new projects are needed to try to reverse bittern declines.