Day in the life of a whio ranger

Department of Conservation —  11/10/2017 — 1 Comment

Biodiversity Ranger Daniel Sawyers works in the Buller District, which is home to many of our native species, including whio/blue ducks. We asked Daniel about his work with the birds.

Captured Whio crop.jpg

Daniel with a captured whio

Where are the whio you work with?

I look after whio in the Oparara-Ugly whio security site, which was established in 2002 and now protects around 43 pairs of whio. The site goal is to have 50 pairs protected by 2019. The 95 kilometres of whio habitat is protected from predators by 156 kilometres of trap lines.

P1040987.JPG

How long have you been working with Whio?

I first started working with Whio in late 2003 helping with stoat trap checks in the Oparara Basin in Karamea. Since then I have worked on all parts of the Whio program there including Whio surveys, capture and tracking, Whio nest egg (WHIONE) and maintaining and expanding the Oparara security site.

Sandy & Rocky Postal R capture.jpg

Captured whio Sandy and Rocky

What other species do you work with?

NZ fur seals, Westland petrels, great spotted kiwi, Powelliphanta snails, some threatened plants to name a few. We often have people call up about injured penguins, morepork and weka that we catch and take to the vet too.

Seal pup tagging 2.jpg

Daniel tagging a seal pup

What does a typical day look like when you are working with Whio?

Driving 16 kilometres of winding gravel road into the Oparara Basin and walking the river searching for whio pairs. When we find a pair we catch them and attach radio transmitters to so that we can monitor their breeding success. We catch them using a mist net that is strung across the river, and kind of herd the ducks into it.

Or on another day I might get into a helicopter and fly into the Ugly river to check and re-bait stoat traps along a pretty rough and remote stretch of river that is 10 kilometres long.

UsingTR4 and Yagi to find Whio.jpg

Using a TR4 and Yagi to find whio with transmitters on

Best moment working with whio?

Doing a whio survey after the breeding season and seeing all the fledged ducklings.

P1040950.JPG

Worst moment?

Finding a transmitted female whio that had been predated by a stoat.

Any tips for spotting whio?

Visit the Oparara Basin in Karamea, there is a walking track to the Oparara Arch and it follows the river. We often see whio along this stretch of river. You need a keen eye as they blend in and when they’re feeding they can be hard to spot.

Looking for Whio.jpg

Looking for whio

If you could be a whio for a day, what would you do?

 Evade the predators and those pesky whio rangers trying to catch me.

Have you got any conservation advice for the public?

 “Take only photos, leave only foot prints”.

The backcountry.jpg

Daniel in the backcountry


Play Whio Boot Camp

You could win the ultimate whio experience with a whio ranger like Daniel by playing our new Whio Bootcamp game. Make it to the end of the game, enter your details and you’re in the draw!

R119497 Michaela Elliot - 2017 Whio collateral_ads4_728x90px edit.jpg

One response to Day in the life of a whio ranger

  1. 

    Great work being done there. I wish I was fit and young enough to help.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s