Monday, 30 May 2016

The 20th Kakariki

While I've been at Zealandia I've been really lucky to work with two different masters students.  Thanks to Latu I've learnt so much about the North Island robins and enjoyed every minute of being part of the research she's been doing.
I've also enjoyed working with Ellen and learning how to track birds using telemetry.  For her masters she has had to trap 20 kakariki and put small transmitters on them.  When I first met her she had about 8, now she has all 20.

The other day it was just the two of us, each hiding in different spots trying to look out for the very last kakariki.

Once you stay still, it doesn't take long for birds to appear.  A cheeky little kaka appeared and decided he didn't mind being close to me.  He was so close I could have touched him and I have to admit I was slightly distracted watching this bird swing around using its claws and beak.

We had to look for ones that had a red band identifying their cohort.  This meant that this bird was born in the 2015/2016 season.  All of a sudden one appeared right where I was watching.  A quick radio call and Ellen came rushing down.   We swapped hiding spots but I hadn't been in my new spot when she radioed me to say she had caught it in the trap.  I haven't run up and down many of the hills in Zealandia but I did that morning.

I helped hold the bird while she fitted the transmitter and then I even got to carefully hold the bird while she measured its leg length - there are special ways of holding birds and so she had to teach me first how to look after them.  It was quite something to hold onto a wild bird, something I won't forget in a long time.

Thanks Ellen for letting me be part of your research!

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