Walking down onto Waikanae Beach last evening, was looking skyward for the flock of black dots of titi (sooty shearwater) that have been around. . .
. . .when my attention was caught by a massive seagull. Well, that was my first thought until it unfurled long wings & folded them in again.
No seagull then!
I began tracking giant bird foot-prints toward the water’s edge. Webbed & as big as the palm of my hand. Dwarfing the dog-prints.
Closer – but, not too close – I found three birds distanced along water’s edge. They weren’t so keen on meeting me! One shuffled (on short-legs) into the water & landing a safe distance away, folded those giant wings into its body again.
So – here’s what I could see from my (short-sighted) distance. Pale curved petrel beak, white body, black back. Giant body on short legs.
Here’s a pic to toroa, who range throughout the NZ coast all year. Might have been???
Wending my way up the South Island, & staying in Dunedin, with my friend Gretchen, we drove out to beautiful Waitati. Then on the way home we popped into Orokonui ecosanctuary.
Gretchen & her mum had paid for a couple of posts in the predator-proof fence around the 307-hectare native forest. So helping create this mainland island. Here is the only Cloud Forest in New Zealand without threat from introduced pests.
Being a mainland island presents new difficulties. Tieke, the saddleback, were released there in 2009 and the end of 2012.
But a lot of the saddlebacks and their offspring left the sanctuary, leaving only a few behind to breed.
‘We didn’t expect that, as they are not great fliers, but saddlebacks need a large territory and there’s nothing to stop them flying over the fence.’ So Conservation manager Elton Smith said in the Otago Daily Times, 16/1/14.
‘But all remaining pairs are expected to produce a second clutch and some might even have three. . .we’re hoping for well over 30 fledglings for the season, which will be a fantastic result.’
Saddlebacks don’t occur anywhere on the mainland without predator control so the ecosanctuary is the only place to find them, other than offshore islands.
In Cloak of Protection tieke, the saddleback, is hunted by kiore, ship rat, cat & stoat. Needs an extremely good fence to keep that lot out!!
If you’re looking for a retail store to purchase Cloak of Protection these summer hols – we’ve finally added a list. At the bottom of the BUY page.
Here’s Morgan’s illustration of tuuturiwhatu, the NZ dotterel. Found (when not breeding) on the beaches of the northern North Island, on the islands of the Hauraki Gulf, & above the bushline of Stewart Island.
Here’s a typical story of how a bird became extinct. And how we, as humans, have had a lot to learn.
With eyes set well back on their heads, tutukiwi (the snipe) could see widely. But what they could see coming, they couldn’t avoid!
Like their larger cousin, the kiwi, they nested on the ground. They were very tame. They ran about on the ground.
It suited them to live like this in our luscious landscape.
They did have a surprise though! Their night-time calls terrified early European explorers. Hak’wai, hak’wai, hak’wai – called a ghost from on high, & then a sound like a roaring jet-plane blasted the air!! No-one suspected a bird from the ground could be the culprit!
Suddenly their changes were fatal. It was too late to fly back to the water – too late to hide their eggs in the rushes. In the daytime they were stuck on the ground – now the most dangerous place on earth to be
Too many predators went after them. First they were hunted by the adzebill – but there weren’t too many of them
Then they were hunted in their nests by kiore. Until they were mostly away on our off-shore islands
Then the Norway rat and the cat came, so that they were only on one last island out-post. Taukihepa (Big South Cape), southwest of Rakiura (Stewart Island)
Then, in 1964 the ship rat swam ashore. Two snipe were rescued by the New Zealand Wildlife Service, but both died before release
In March, masses & masses of these small birds fly from the warm waters of the eastern Pacific, to our off-shore islands. The largest colony in New Zealand on South East Island (Chathams) has 1 million breeding pairs.
Dropping down through the trees, they blanket the air and the ground.
Burrows are so well hidden – that you could walk over a colony in the daytime and never know it was there.
They’re hidden from sight, but not from nose or ear! Their strong, musky smell and their loud night-time calls can gave them away.
Over 150-200 years, kiore (the pacific rat) removed huge numbers of petrels from the mainland.
Today the Norway rat and the cat can wipe them all out.
In Cloak of Protection takahikare-moana are eaten by kiore, cat & Norway rat