Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Tieke translocation 2. Bushy Park


It's hard to believe that as I write this there are 60 tieke settling in to residency at Rotokare :)

The thought that I was part of getting them there, really makes me swell with pride. I'm not a sentimental person but I have to admit to having shed a few happy tears in the last week.

If you have been following my posts you will have read all about the Hauturu translocation and about the techniques and processes that we went through.
I guess this post will be the highlights of the second translocation and how the Bushy Park translocation was different to Hauturu.

Bushy Park is a mainland island sanctuary just north of Wanganui. It is about 89 hectares in size. If you would like to read more about Bushy Park, here is a link-

Our translocation is pretty special in Bushy Park's history as it is the first time that they have been able to take birds from their sanctuary to give to another.
They only translocated their Tieke / Saddleback into their sanctuary in 2007. That to me says that they have the perfect environment for birds to flourish. In only 7 years they have gone from a founding population to having enough that they could give some away. Another fantastic example of how organizations can easily work together for the common good.

The team arrived at Bushy Park on a very chilly Monday morning. Kevin, Sharon, Morag and Simon (from the Hauturu translocation were there,) Gemma and Emily from DOC in New Plymouth, Kris (he works for Forest and Bird at Bushy Park) and Annette (a colleague of Kevin's from Wellington) made up the catch team, along with Jenny (yip Kiwi guru Jenny from Rotokare) Simon, Chauncy and myself.
During the week we were joined by many of the wonderful Rotokare Volunteers. It was awesome to share the experience with the Rotokare commuunity. Being so close to home this time made it really accessible to everyone. It made me feel really great to be able to spend time with different volunteers over the week and teach them about the techniques used and answer the questions that they had.
The feedback on the quality of the teamwork between the paid staff and volunteers was fantastic to hear. The Rotokare Volunteers showed the true spirit of Rotokare and our can-do kick arse attitude. 

I have to admit that during this translocation I actually felt useful when it came to the catching birds! Much of the credit for that needs to go to Morag Fordham. I first met Morag while on Little Barrier Island but never got the opportunity to work with her. This time we teamed up together and we were pretty dammed successful! It was lovely to work alongside someone like Morag who has a really gentle nature (but firm when she needed to be) someone who took time to explain things and involve everyone as much as she could. 

On the first catching afternoon we somehow managed to catch 10 birds in about 20 minutes. This meant that at times there were 2-3 birds in the net waiting to be untangled. As the adrenalin started pumping, I was amazed at how calm and together Morag stayed. She was totally focused on what needed to happen and directed Chris and I to do the jobs we could do.
I did laugh afterwards though when she apologised for being bossy!
I thought she was amazing!

Thank you Morag for teaching me soooo much. I really hope I get the opportunity to work with you again.

The logistics of Bushy Park were a little easier than Hauturu, not a lot of travel, no quaratine, no permits but a few challenges still presented themselves. The first was aviary space.
There were 3 old aviaries at Bushy Park. Old and BIG. These aviaries were built as pre-release aviaries for birds that had been translocated into Bushy Park. I have been told that back when these birds arrived they had to be housed in the aviaries for a period of time before being released into the bush. So.... aviaries that were HUGE and not in the best state of repair ..... Not a problem for the Rotokare team- they built a purpose built aviary INSIDE one of the big aviaries. The one that they chose to use had been used as a kiwi creche at one stage.

The building begins

the build up of leaf litter and branches on the roof was pretty thick. It made 2 oclock in the afternoon feel like 6 oclock. In this photo Chauncy had already knocked off LOTS. It made such a huge difference.
An early photo before the vestibule was built at the front. The second entrance means that people can come and go out of the aviary while the birds still remain safely inside.

Having much fun in his work

The finished product.

Another difference we found at Bushy Park was the type of vegetation available to put into the aviary. On Hauturu there was a lot of Kanuka and Manuka and trees that had sturdy branches. This type of foliage meant that the birds had plenty of perches available to them. At Bushy Park the only Manuka that was there had been purposely planted on the outside of the main bush area. The forest was really established meaning that there weren't easy to get to branches for us to use.
Instead we had to use nesting boxes. Luckily there were all the boxes that the Bushy Park team had used back when they translocated the tieke into the sanctuary in 2007.

Jenny hanging boxes to the sides of the aviary.

Accomadation was pretty basic. There was a small bunkhouse with 11 beds in it, a small living area, a small kitchen and ablutions (out the back door.) I did do a chuckle to myself the first day I was there when I went to get lunch organised- on Hauturu everything in the kitchen was on the BIG side- big pots, big pans, lots of everything.... in this kitchen everything was small.
Don't get me wrong though, it was a great place to stay.

Lunch in the bunkhouse. A little squashed when we were all in there.
Dinner however .......


 Dinner was a lovely affair- Eating at the homestead (as seen in the first photo at the top of the post.) It was certainly an unexpected luxury! And sooooo nice to have someone else cook dinner each night (oh and desert!!)

 Bushy Park was a really special journey for me. I felt I had skills and knowledge about bird catching to use this time around. It was a really neat realization to come to. It was really neat being able to work with some of the team from Hauturu as well as meet new people.
Bushy Park is a very special place. Only an hour from where I live I know that the kids and I will be regular visitors.

I have posted a few more photos- I will add a caption to each. If you have any questions about the translocation, please ask. I will add another post about the release event when I have gathered a few more photos- I was so caught up in the day that I forgot to take many photos!

Sharon and Annette counting mealworms. The Rotokare mealworms were said to be of a very high quality! YAY for us.



Team briefing on a VERY COLD winter's morning. Even the locals said it was the coldest morning they could remember!

Not quite meals on wheels but Simon and Tai arriving with lunch was a really welcome sight.

Janine, Rotokare's office extraordinaire

Chris- holding about 5 minutes worth of catch.... 5 birds!


Steve getting upclose with a Tieke. I have seen Steve smile lots over the years I have known him,
but the smiles on this occasion surpassed them all.

Morag releasing a tieke we had caught that wasn't needed. It was so comfy in her hands that it didn't fly off straight away!  

Jenny got a fantastic job for the week, being Kevin's assistant.
I was envious of the job- though was pleased I was moving around a lot more than Jenny and Kevin were.

One of the best parts of Jenny's job (as far as I am concerned) was getting to carry each bird to the aviary!

The morning of the release started early and was super busy getting things ready. All the boxes needed to be prepared with foliage and food for the journey.

Emily and my kids busy carrying packing blankets to the vehicles in order to try and soundproof them a little for the 90 minute trip North to Rotkare.

laying out the blankets in the car.

The team that was present on Saturday morning.

Emma and Ryan putting mealworms into each box.
The team heading into the bush with boxes to package and re-process the birds. 
A bit of a blur- Ryan is the black streak in the middle. Sharon carrying a catching net!
(see there was a place for a net on a translocation!)
Ryan and Emma having a final look at the tieke in a box before they were loaded into the cars.

Loading the birds into cars.

And then the journey north began. To their new home.

One ironic thing about the release day was that it took place on the 31st of May.
For the farming community in New Zealand, this is an important day on the calendar.
It's also known as gypsy day.
The day that farms change hands if they have been sold,
the day that farm workers move to new farms for new jobs. 
A day that you will see furniture being moved and stock being walked to new homes.
It's quite ironic that our birds moved to their new home on what is always big day for our community.



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