DOC’s Bronwyn Aalders recently spent a week on Codfish Island helping the Kākāpō Recovery team and had the privilege of meeting Maggie the kākāpō, who was tragically killed in a landslide last week.
Midway through my week volunteering on Codfish Island as a nest controller, I had the opportunity to accompany the kākāpō rangers to track Maggie the kākāpō.
After a brisk forty minute walk across the centre of the island we started to head off track and descend the soft, tangled slopes above the sea.
It was very important to avoid the numerous petrel nests dug into the peat soil while we gradually began to pinpoint Maggie’s location. The terrain became almost vertical and we began clambering and crawling our way through twisted trunks and branches as the telemetry beeps became louder.
With packs now discarded we knew we were close, with two people above and two people below, and Maggie cleverly camouflaged and ready to run somewhere in between.
Suddenly a ranger looked up and spotted her calmly roosting above us trying to keep still. She was swiftly and gently brought down ready for some quick measurements and health checks.
Maggie was gorgeous and the first kākāpō I had ever seen in the wild. It was thrilling to see her up close, to smell her musky feathers and to take in her sheer size and presence. All with the sounds of the waves crashing beneath us and the sight of Rakiura in the distance.
Several tests, photos, flaps and bites later, I filmed Maggie waddling away back up the hill, head down – just as Douglas Adams described in ‘Last Chance to See’.