Bringing The Kakariki Home
We’d like to update everyone on yet another very successful Project Island Song native bird reintroduction. 40 kākāriki, the native red crowned parakeet, were the latest addition to take wing on Moturua Island in the Bay Of Islands, on June 13th in near perfect conditions. The event was pulled forward 24 hours because of the gale force winds predicted to be on their way, but it went off well with only a slight delay because of fog at the Auckland Heliport postponing the helicopters' take-off. It took a year’s planning to get permits and processes in place and so make it the very smooth operation it was, says project manager Richard Robbins.
Watch Toby Ricketts wonderful 360° video of the release:
You can watch some brilliant close up shots of the birds flying out of their boxes and interviews with Richard Robbins and Dr Kevin Parker of Parker Conservation which give some fascinating insights into the operation.
There are several species of our native parakeet but the red crowned are probably the ones that were originally on the islands and in the bay area. It’s not known exactly how long ago it was the last one was seen in the bay, but it’s thought to be at least a couple of generations ago.
“It was a magic day,” says Richard, “And such a relief when we got them safely on to the island. They are quite delicate, get stressed easily and so are not the easiest of birds to handle in this way. I think this is the first translocation that has had a one hundred percent success rate. It’s another huge step in developing the breadth and depth of this wonderful wildlife sanctuary we are creating in the Bay of Islands.”
Most of the birds were out of their purposely transport boxes and into the trees within seconds, much to the delighted gasps of the sponsors, donors and supporters invited to be part of the release. “We are making history out here,” said one of the guests, beaming from ear to ear, “more for the children than for us, they will be the ones who see the full fruits of all this amazing work.”
The birds were formally welcomed on to their new island home with a pōwhiri and karakia and only the briefest of speeches, so as to get the birds out of their transport boxes as soon as possible. As usual a huge number of people contributed to the release. The Project Island Song partners: The Guardians Of the Bay of Islands, hapū Ngāti Kuta and Patukeha of Te Rawhiti, and the Department of Conservation; Ngāti Manuhiri who are mana whenua of Hauturu; and the volunteer specialist catching team. Also the generous financial support from Explore Group, Forest and Bird, and private donations. “And of course all of our Project members and supporters all over the country are hugely important”, says Richard, “their continued and continuing financial and moral support allows us to not only carry out the immediate work but plan for the future. And this is becoming increasingly important. For this remarkable sanctuary of ours to grow and flourish we need to know we have guaranteed funding into the future. So we are working on ways to make sure this becomes a reality rather than just wishful thinking.”
Kakariki are the first re-introduced species that is capable of leaving the islands and making it to the mainland, so if you live in or are visiting the Bay area keep your eye out, and if you see a little flash of green and red hopping around outside your window you might well be seeing a bit of history being made, and can take credit for helping it happen..
Another 40 birds will be released in around a year or so.
Click on thumbnails to view enlargements. Images by Dean Wright and Darren Markin