Saturday, 23 August 2014

Last day at the lake

It was a sad day on Friday the 27th of June. My last official day at the Lake.
I turned up expecting to pack up my desk, have morning tea, hand out some gifts and be gone by lunchtime. I still had assignments to finish and a presentation to get ready for the end of fellowship symposium next week.
I really had no idea how my day would turn out!

Jenny followed me into the office telling me that she was off to change the transmitter on one of the kiwi we monitor in the sanctuary. It was Ana, one of the female kiwi we were given from Orana Park in Christchurch a year earlier.
I was asked if I wanted to go with her- like she needed to ask!!! Of course I would. My other plans went out the window and off we went with our tracking aerial.
Jenny had tracked her a few days earlier and knew the general area that she was in. The plan was the Jenny and I would track Ana down and then Simon and Chauncy would come out and do the transmitter change.

As we got closer to our starting point the skies darkened and the rain began to fall.
This poses a dilemma- do we leave it for another day when it's not raining and run the risk of the battery running flat before it's fine again or go ahead and find her and hope it stops raining before we need to extract her from her burrow. It's not good practise to let a bird get wet.
After a discussion on the radio with Simon we decided to go ahead and keep tracking and then make a decision when we found her.
Notice Jenny's shiny raincoat ..... it's not normally like that!

Miss Ana was not as easy to find as the first kiwi tracking adventure I went on with Jenny!

We kept losing the signal, and boy did we have to climb amongest some thick supplejack to find her burrow.
When we eventually found her the rain had eased off a little so the transmitter change went ahead.

Ana had made her home in a hollow log with 2 entry/ exit holes.
All 4 sets of hands were required when it came to getting her out as 2 people were needed to guard the exit holes, one to follow her movement as she moved up and down the log and one to start digging her out.
I had the job of tracking her movement in the log. I was amazed that I could easily hear her movement inside the log. Once she got near the end of the log, Simon could start digging her as we effectively had her trapped in a section of the log. We had her out in no time with little fuss.

Chauncy at one end of the log
Jenny at the other end of the log

Devising a plan of approach- notice the supplejack!

Once she was out of her burrow, Simon and Chauncy worked as fast and quietly as they could to change the transmitter and get her back into her hole. It was fantastic to watch Simon at work with the kiwi. I have not seen a transmitter change before and I was fascinated with the intricate detail that went into making sure the transmitter went on correctly.

Seeing the teamwork between Simon and Chauncy was great as well. Whoever said that men can't multi task would have been pleasantly surprised to watch Chauncy hold an umbrella over Simon and Ana AND write down notes for Simon. So clever!
The rain had stopped while the transmitter change was happening but umbrellas were used because there were still large drops of water falling from the canopy. We needed to keep the bird as dry as possible. Ana was covered in a towel to reduce her stress level and the light she was being subjected to as well as the odd drop of water that managed to get between the umbrellas.

 Watching a master at his craft.
I really enjoyed the opportunity to watch Simon work in this environment.
Much of interaction with Simon during my time at the lake has been in the office environment.
It was awesome to see him in this environment. You can see where his passion for the project comes from when you see him out in the field. 
On the way back to the office after the transmitter change we were graced with the presence of a pair of Tieke! They were happy for us to stand and watch them for a few minutes. This seemed a perfect way to finish my time at the lake.  So it was then back to the office to dry out, drink coffee, eat cake and celebrate our day's work.

Hard to believe that 2 terms have come to an end.
This is not the end of the relationship between myself and Rotokare. I have become so passionate about the place and all that it represents that there is no way I could just walk away.
I am going to become one of those people who turn up to help on their days off work or at 9 am on a Sunday morning for a working bee! One of those people who talk about the place with the  people they meet out on the tracks. I am going to be one of those people who answer the call that a job needs doing and my hands could do it. I can't wait for the next chapter of the Rotokare Residence to start!

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