Archives For Rifleman

Riflemen are a monogamous species, with long-term pair-bonds—a perfect illustration for a one of a kind wedding card for a colleague.

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The bush wren, laughing owl, and native thrush are all extinct.

Stoats are thought to have caused their demise—as well as the decline of many of New Zealand’s other indigenous bird species. They also feed heavily on our native reptiles and invertebrates.

The images below show the devastation that a stoat can wreck on our native species—in this case New Zealand’s smallest bird, the rifleman/titipounamu.

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DOC ranger, Anja McDonald, sent through these heartbreaking images.

They were taken at Tennyson Inlet in the Marlborough Sounds. She explains:

The male bird was in the nest when the stoat came and we don’t see any pictures of him coming out again. The rifleman mother then returns to her nest. The things in her beak are likely to be the remains of either her husband or her chicks.

When we climbed the tree later, to bring the camera in, there was only a female around, which suggests the stoat possibly ate both the adult male and the chicks.

A very sad end for these small birds, but a important reminder of the pest control work that needs to be done to protect our native species.

10 year old Jamie Hamilton is a Year 6 student at Glenorchy School, she often goes out trapping with her dad, a DOC trapping volunteer. She writes about a recent trip to Lake Sylvan.

At different times of the year my dad and I go trapping at Lake Sylvan.

Jamie heading out to check the traps

Jamie heading out to check the traps

The reason we go is so that DOC can monitor how many stoats and rats there are and to save our native birds. My dad and I do 34 traps and if you walk a little further past this trap line you will end up at the Rockburn Hut.

At the start of the walk there is a little sign and it shows all the markers that are shown on the track. The two that that we look for are the orange and blue markers, the orange are track markers and the blue ones show where the traps are.

Jamie with her dad.

Jamie with her dad

Sometimes dad and I have to leave really early so we can get back at a reasonable time. Once me and dad left at 8:00 am and got back at 5:30 pm. On that trip we got four stoats and one rat. One of the stoats was a baby and one was a white one, there wasn’t much left of them though. The white stoat is a normal stoat but its coat colour just changes white in the winter.

On the track we often see robins and rifleman and hear the beautiful song that the birds make.

A robin sitting on a trap at Lake Sylvan.

A robin sitting on a trap

I love checking the trap lines for DOC, I know I am helping to protect our native birds and I get to spend a day with my dad doing something we both enjoy.

Jamie sitting on rocks by Lake Sylvan.

Jamie sitting on rocks by Lake Sylvan