Archives For Breeding

Anne has been helping with the fieldwork at Shy lake this spring, working to monitor southern Fiordland tokoeka nest and chicks through the project’s second season.

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Today’s photo of the week is of a shining cuckoo/pīpīwharauroa that has returned to New Zealand for the summer to breed.

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A bumper whio/blue duck breeding season has seen over 25 juvenile ducks released on West Coast rivers over the last couple of weeks.

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Unique to New Zealand, the hoiho, or yellow-eyed penguin, is one of the world’s rarest penguin, so it’s exciting to see that chicks are on their way!

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Rangers and volunteers recently went searching for yellow-eyed penguin/hōiho nests on the Otago Peninsula.

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By Jose Watson, Partnership Ranger in Hokitika

On a misty Thursday morning last week I headed out to the Kawhaka Creek to help retrieve eggs from two whio / blue duck nests.

Whio / blue duck. Photo copyright Sabine Bernert. Used with permission.

Whio / blue duck

whio-eggs-ranger-rodney-incubator

Ranger Rodney

The newly established West Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail follows alongside this beautiful river and makes access to the site easy.

The Kawhaka Creek is good for whio. It’s fast flowing, clean—with plenty of invertebrates for whio to eat—and has good habitat either side for nesting. I myself have enjoyed plenty of nice swims in this creek.

It’s a bit of a walk with the incubator to the nest—definitely a job for two people—especially on the return trip when we want a smooth ride for the precious eggs.

Two people carrying the incubator.

Carrying the incubator

This is the first time ever that whio eggs have been taken from this site.

In 2012 Kawhaka Creek was added to the Central West Coast Whio Recovery Site. The support of Genesis let us grow this site, that was initially made possible with support from Solid Energy. The Central West Coast Whio Recovery Site now includes the Styx,  Arahura, Taipo and Kawhaka catchments.

The first nest at Kawhaka Creek was found a couple of weeks ago by Cloud the whio dog.

Ranger Ron Van Mierlo delves into the whio nest.

Ranger Ron Van Mierlo delves into the whio nest

The nest was quite a way up a hill beside the river—a good place for a nest as it was out of the reach of floods. In a forest, on a hill, did seem to be a peculiar place to see a duck though. However, I am assured this is quite normal for whio.

Ranger Ron Van Mierlo had to stretch his arm quite a way down a hole to retrieve the eggs.

The whio eggs being retrieved.

The eggs being retrieved

It was exciting to see the eggs being retrieved, and a bit nerve-raking  too—nobody wants to drop and egg, and the utmost care is taken.

Ranger holds the first whio egg friom Kawhaka Creek.

The first egg

We found 6 eggs at this first nest. I thought 6 was an epic effort, but apparently nests with up to 9 eggs are found!

There is a good chance that the duck who laid those eggs will now lay another clutch this season. In this way, whio breeding can be “supercharged”—the duck lays more eggs that can be successfully raised into adulthood.

Ranger Glen Newton with the egg in a protective cup.

Ranger Glen Newton with the egg in a protective cup

After the first nest we were feeling very chirpy—what a great start to the morning.

The next nest was located further up and across the river. We located the nest but, unfortunately, it was empty. The nest had been raided by some sort of predator. The mother duck was still hanging around the nest, on the other side of the pond. Here she is on her lonesome. Hopefully she will lay some more eggs and we will be able to safely retrieve them.

An adult female whio after her eggs were raided by a predator.

Lonely mother duck

After a commute to Christchurch, the eggs were taken to the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust, a privately funded charitable trust specialising in captive breeding and release of endangered species.

Hopefully, all going well, these eggs will all end up as strong healthy whio that will be returned the wild and in turn lead to even more whio!

Whio eggs back at the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust.

Egg care at the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust

For the first time ever, you can watch kākāpō nesting activity streaming live from remote Whenua Hou/Codfish Island.

Our photo of the week shows foster mother Esperance caring for a chick but, if you head over to the Kākāpō Recovery website, you can see streaming real time footage of the pair.

Kakapo foster mother Esperance caring for a chick on remote Whenua Hou / Codfish Island.

Nestcam footage will stream 24 hours a day, however the activity will occur during the New Zealand night time, because kākāpō are nocturnal parrots.

A big shout out to:

Telecom NZ who supplied most of the technology:

“Because so much of the recovery programme takes place in the wild, on remote and protected islands, kākāpō nesting has to-date been limited to a very small audience. We’re delighted to have the connectivity in this remote location, and to contribute the technology needed to enable this precious event to be shared live with the world,” Andrew Pirie, Telecom General Manager Corporate Relations.

New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Ltd (NZAS) as major sponsor of Kākāpō Recovery NZAS has contributed significant financial support, while its employees assist with operational support.

“Our staff at NZAS have loved working in partnership with the Recovery team during the past 24 years, helping out on the island with maintenance, supplementary feedout and nest minding. It’s great that the team can now share part of that special kākāpō experience with the rest of New Zealand,” NZAS general manager Gretta Stephens.

Forest and Bird who administer the trust account that external donations and sponsorship money are made to. This ensures supporters can be sure all financial contributions to the programme go directly to Kākāpō Recovery.