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Thanks to an active intervention program, at Whangarei Heads we really do have kiwi in our backyard.

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October 11th, 2016

2016 September update

Spring has sprung and everything is all go in the kiwi world.  Kiwi chicks are hatching flat out -6 so far from our Dads at the Heads and also 4 chicks transfer to Limestone Is crèche form the Rarewarewa ONE Dads this month.

 The predators are also on the move with another big male stoat turning up at the northern end of our trapping area and 6 weasels being caught.  The flash flooding we got last week has caused a few issues with some traps washed out and it certainly would have been a problem for any new chicks caught in the waterways.  The up side of the wet spring is that there is plenty of tucker for the kiwi dads to put on condition after nesting for nearly 3 months. Well fed adults will make a second round of nesting far more likely than in dry years.

Backyard Kiwi Predator Control Programme

Catches for September in the predator traps:
Stoat 1, Weasels 6, Cats 0, Rats 82, Hedgehogs 9 and 6 possums.
A controlled pulse of Brodifacoum toxin in bait stations at MT Aubrey and on some of the private land at MT Manaia by the Reotahi LC  and Manaia LC groups is taking place. Not only will this keep possum numbers down and give the rat population a knock it will also get those sly stoats that have been avoiding our traps in those areas. This in turn will help all the birds nesting at the moment – not only the kiwi.

What your radio tracked Backyard Kiwi have been up to:

w-16.09-Darwin's chicksDarwin’s chick’s

Darwin – Nesting in pampas at Lamb Road quarry. After 78 days nesting he had hatched two chicks. I DNA sampled and ID chipped the chicks. Both are girls by their bill size: 310g and 47.7mm, 46.5mm and 290g.(picture attached).  A trail camera set near the nest got some fantastic footage of the chicks feeding, dad coming and going for his nightly break and mum wandering past sometimes. Heather is planning to use the shots to make a video story for BYK. I took the opportunity to do Darwin’s 6 monthly band change and he was healthy but has lost at bit of weight as is expected after nesting.

Lambert – Usual area at Taurikura Ridge. Nesting in pampas Lambert has hatched 1 chick but the older egg was dead.  This chick is also probably a girl with a weight  of 290g and a bill length of 44.1mm at 5 days old. Fay Clayton – hard working BYK committee member and also one of our proud supporters has named the chick “Crystal” (pic attached).  I was pleased to be able to do Lambert’s transmitter change at the same time because he is almost impossible to catch in the deep pampas usually but loves nesting in pampas closer to the track which makes access difficult but possible.

w-16.09. Laberts chickLambert’s chick

Mrs Charlie – at Craig road. You may remember how I was very lucky to catch Mrs C back in February – she was a wild hatched mate of Charlies – well my luck ran out with monitoring her this month. Her territory is in the rushes and pampas at McNamaras’ and she spends a lot of time knee deep in water in the wetland there. Her transmitter band has been due for a change but she has eluded me (even with helping hands from Adam and Frank) and when Frank and I checked on her last week her transmitter band had broken (possibly weakened from spending time in the wet conditions) so all we found was her dropped transmitter.  I have started using a new type of transmitter band attachment designed by Doc’s Rogan Colbourne that will hopefully minimise this problem in the future.

Whitu – At Reotahi above the freezing works. Whitu’s mate, Marama, had chosen a nest with a view on a rocky point.  When his transmitter data stream showed that he had hatched his chicks and his activity was rising Frank Bates gave me a hand to check the nest. Unfortunately the older chick had got an infected belly button and died but the second chick was healthy. He was named “Leo” by Frank (Frank is a hard working member of Manaia LC, Reotahi LC and also helps out at Bream Head). Pic attached.

w-16.09-Whitu's chick Leo and FrankFrank Bates with Whitu’s chick ‘Leo’

Dallas – His transmitter failed a few months back but the Hills have been still hearing him call at their place next to the Whangarei Heads School. Not only had they heard kiwi but they spotted a rotten log that had plenty of probing on it so we set up a trail camera.  Guess what – a male kiwi wandered past, unfortunately you can’t see his legs to see if he still has a dead transmitter on but on the up side a kiwi chick also showed up.  So it looks like Dallas is busy as usual hatching his September chicks.

EB – He is in the scrub at Kerr road. This young fella has started nesting – he had a failed attempt in his first breeding season last year so hopefully he has the hang of it now. Hatch is due late October.

Tindall – NE side of Mt Manaia. This guy is another young learner and his first nesting attempt for the season failed after only 11 days according to his radio data stream. Plenty of time for him to try again.

ONE program (funded by Kiwis for Kiwi):

ONE dads at Rarewarewa are also into their breeding season.

The Acrobat – Usual area. Still high activity. He doesn’t seem interested in nesting.

Waimarie – Nesting in Lovell’s bush – hatch due..

Ngutu Roa – Nesting usual area. Hatched two chicks LC 1604 and LC 1605  transferred to Limestone.

Sancho – Nesting usual area. 4 hours activity at day 57. Hatch due soon.

CFU– Nested in his usual area. Paddock South of reserve. Hatched two chicks – LC 1603 transferred but LC1606 was very young and left. Unfortunately this nest was on a steep slope above a small creek. When I checked the nest  a week later the chick was gone- I hope he managed to miss the flash flooding in the creek and found a dry home!  I am surprised by some of the dodgy places kiwi chose as nest sites but even more surprised at how well the chicks handle the terrain and usually manage to return to the nest after wandering out.

Ray – Hasn’t re-nested – still high activity..

The Boxer – Has finished nesting with LC1602 transferred (1st chick transferred last month).

Upcoming Kiwi Release
As part of our combined ONE work (BYK, BHCT, TLC, Tanekaha LC, Kiwi Coast and funder Kiwis for kiwi) Tutukaka Landcare Coalition is hosting a Kiwi Release at Tawapou nursery 6pm on Friday November 18.  More details closer to the time.


w-C&W cover

Talking of releases – Heather’s beautiful new book “The Cuckoo and the Warbler” has been released – grab a copy for your favourite young person.



Todd Hamilton, Backyard Kiwi Project Manager

Whangarei Heads Landcare Forum


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