By Sam Haultain, Biodiversity Ranger
The wind may have been strong, but the sun was shining as the first 19 juvenile kakī/black stilt of the current breeding season were released onto the Tasman River last week.
The small gathering of Twizel and Aoraki DOC staff, neighbouring landowners, Otago, Canterbury and Lincoln University students, and associated friends and family could not have been more excited.
The release represented the success of DOC’s hard work supporting kakī recovery in the Mackenzie Basin, and is the first milestone for the programme in 2017.
“It was great to see the juveniles take to the sky so quickly” said Twizel Operations Manager Sally Jones.
Having been raised at the kakī rearing facility, from wild-laid eggs, the birds hadn’t had the opportunity to stretch their wings in the same way in the aviaries as they could above the Tasman riverbed.
But perhaps the funniest obstacle the released birds faced that day was the river.
After only paddling in shallow, slow moving water at the aviaries, the swift uneven riverbeds of the Tasman proved to be an entertaining challenge!
With a little help in the form of supplementary feeding and a watchful eye from the kakī recovery team, it’s hoped these birds will do well.