Saturday, 23 August 2014

Arriving at the Lake

What a glorious day it was the day the Tieke arrived at Lake Rotokare.

It was quite an emotional arrival at the lake, with what seemed like 100s of people there waiting for the stars of the show.
Jenny arrives with the first load of birds

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The unloading begins.

When the birds all arrived they were carried down to the landing and the waiting crowd.


Once the birds were all in place, Darren Ratana from DOC, performed a short karakia to welcome the birds. After that 8 of the 10 boxes were loaded into 2 boats and taken across the lake where they were released.

I loved the way that the lake was sparkling- it added a touch of magic to the day.

And off they went.
Waiting up at the other end of the lake were representatives from main sponsors of the project OMC, individual bird sponsors and a handful of other very lucky people including 4 students from the 2  local schools. They witnessed the majority of the birds being released.
On the other side of the lake, those that wanted to make the short walk up to the end of the Barrier Free track also had the opportunity to see 8 tieke released.
It was a wonderful opportunity to be part of this release group as there were a lot of the local community present.
Included in this group were also about 10 students and their parents from my school.
I spent time walking and talking with Allan Anderson and his wife. Allan has been part of the Bushy Park Sanctuary team for many, many years and had worked closely with the Rotokare team organising our translocation. I had talked to him many times over the week at Bushy Park and it was a priviledge to be with him as 'his' birds were released into 'our' sanctaury. He was part of the team that translocated Tieke into Bushy Park in 2007. This is the very first time that Bushy Park has been able to gift birds to another sanctuary and a bit of an emotional day for us both.
As the birds were released, I have to admit to a few tears. I had been part of a history making event. I had been part of an experience that is helping to save 2 different endangered endemic birds. It is certainly something I will never ever forget.
What made the day even extra special was that it was my 37th birthday.

The group waiting at the end of the Barrier Free track
In the middle of this photo is Maj who was the Rotokare Sanctuary Manager at the start of the Tieke/ Popokatea translocation process. It was great to have her with us for the day. This project has been on the go for a number of years and as I have learned, the logistics that go into making it happen require dedicated focused leadership.  
Melissa unscrewing the boxes just before releasing the birds.
This is where I stopped taking photos as I wanted to just enjoy the moment with my son.

A huge sense of relief washed over the team as the visitors left and the sun began to set. A few hours were spent talking and sharing a drink to celebrate the occasion.
The following day a few of the Rotokare team along with Kevin and Sharon took to the tracks around the lake. A few calls were heard and a few birds were seen. What a great start.

This post has been a long time coming and 3 months has passed since release day. We are now seeing and hearing tieke and popokatea very regularly spread all around the sanctuary. Pairs of birds are being observed as well which is really exciting come into breeding season.
Hopefully by xmas we will be seeing unbanded juvenille birds around Rotokare.

I can't wait for the time to come when Rotokare is able to gift some of our birds to another sanctuary or island project somewhere around the country.  For species like Tieke, their future lies in the hands of sanctuaries. Without pest-free areas their survival will be continually threatened.

I am so incredibly grateful to the Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust for giving me the opportunity to be part of this adventure.


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