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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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April 6th, 2020

2020 March Update

Lockdown update  

I hope that everyone is well and coping with the lockdown – 1 month seems a long time but spare a thought for the kiwi dads about to nest for 3 months in their “bubble”!  I have had to stop trapping but because we have a  good healthy kiwi population of over 900 adults (thanks to everyone’s hard work over the past 20 years) and it is at the end of the stoat season there will be few young chicks at risk at this stage.  Also with the halt to radio monitoring of kiwi I made a mad scrabble before lockdown to get urgent transmitter changes done and locate all the kiwi.  The recently released kiwi are pretty mobile so it will be interesting to see where they have got to in a month’s time and I will be busy locating any nests from the older regulars too.

Please remember that the biggest threat to our kiwi remains uncontrolled dogs. With the influx of visitors with dogs to batches for the lockdown and locals walking our dogs more please remember the “social distancing” of dogs from kiwi by using a lead!!!!

Take the lead when walking your dogs

John and Jeane Hill with Todd at 2018 Kiwi release

Backyard Kiwi Loss 

Sadly John Hill died this week after years of battling poor health. John and Jeane Hill live on the land that surrounds Whangarei Heads School and are fantastic BYK supporters.  One of the first words John said after his stroke a few years back was “Kiwi”.  Our thoughts are with Jeane.

It has also been a bad few weeks for kiwi losses in the area – 3 killed and 1 injured.

  • Road killed –4/3/20  an adult female was found on the Whangarei Heads Roadside between McLeod Bay and Taurikura.
  • Dog killed- 22/3/20 a young kiwi from the Nook was taken to WNBRC with dog bites to its legs, it subsequently died. The body is in Doc’s freezer. I have rung around locals and will make follow up visits when the lockdown finishes.
  • Kohi – Road killed. This is a real bugger because Kohi was becoming a bit of a star after his release on 16 Feb.  After being settled for a month he decided to head West – which was great as he excited land owners first down Taraunui Road then towards Owhiwa Road. We were even hoping he might work his way to Kohinui Valley (where he got his name from). He must have then got onto Owhiwa road itself because he hiked north for a couple of nights early last week. His arrival was a positive note in the area just before lockdown – then he was run over, his data stream showed death at around 11pm Tuesday night, one more night and traffic would have become minimal.  He had travelled NW 6 km from the release area and is the furthest we have recorded a kiwi going in this direction.
  • Bream Head injured kiwi –  Michael, the new BHCT ranger, found a lethargic and slightly injured kiwi on the track during the day and it was taken to WNBRC. The kiwi quickly recovered – Robert thought the injury was from fighting with another kiwi.  I transponded  (ID chipped) him and returned him to Bream Head – he was a skinny 1250 g reflecting just how dry it is still there. He was released in one of the damper areas with more moisture and tucker for him. He has been named Kaha by BHCT.

Kohi with Robyn Bigelow

Kohi at the 2020 Kiwi release

Upcoming  Meetings

The WHLF AGM is due in May.  We will work on a date and be prepared to postpone or have the meeting electronically if needed. We will send out a meeting notice to comply with any constitutional requirements in the next few weeks taking into account the Covid-19 virus mandatory isolation requirements and restrictions on movements.

Likewise the Whangarei Heads High Value Area committee is due to meet in May. This meeting includes the approval of proposed budgets for work done by BYK and WH Weed Action in the 2020/2021 year so if it is unable to be physically held it will be carried out electronically.

Kiwi Releases 

Unfortunately we had to cancel the planned 23 March Tanekaha kiwi release and postpone the PNLC release.  We have 5 transmitted kiwi on Limestone waiting for transfer (thanks to Darren and Rolf for spending the evenings catching them).  Between Darren and I we will monitor them as best we can – I can get some signals from our place and hopefully we will get a chance to transfer them after the lockdown period.


Kiwi Listening 

Heather has posted on the BYK face book and website a fun way to do some kiwi listening in your backyard. This will help folks engage with their kiwi during the lockdown.  With the record dry conditions there has been little kiwi breeding this summer because the kiwi haven’t been fat enough. Now with some moisture the kiwi are feeding up and starting to breed i.e. call more frequently.  We are still planning the formal listening survey from 20 stations so if you are a trained kiwi listener with a station expect the usual detailed email from me shortly. The first call count window is May 10-May 30 so calling should be well underway by then. The backup window is June 9-June 28.

Backyard Kiwi Predator Control Program :

With the mad rush with other kiwi work before the lockdown I’m almost 2 weeks short of trapping for March. If the lockdown continues longer we will have to look at a controlled pulse of 1080 and/or brodifacoum pulse to clean stoats out in the Spring.

March predator trap catches:   Stoats 2, Weasels 1, Cats 0, Rats 28, Hedgehogs 6 and 0 possums.

What your radio tracked Backyard Kiwi have been up to:

The recently released kiwi have been on the move:

Parua Bay, Owhiwa road area

  • Kaitiaki – She stayed in the wetland at release area at Ross’s for almost a month and then headed West to Kerry Martin’s pine block on Owhiwa Road, 11 hours nightly activity- 17/3/20. After that I couldn’t find her anywhere in the days leading up to lockdown.
  • Jemima – Spent a week in the wetland at the release area and then she headed off north down Taraunui Road. She may be in the PNLC or other Kiwi Link group’s area now – so we will need to have a search when we can.
  • Hancock – After moving West to a pine block between Owhiwa Road and Taraunui road she has been circling around a bit – quite close to Teina at times, 11 hours nightly activity.
  • Taonga  – Similar area to Hancock but she has been more settled in the last few weeks – within 100m of Teina at times, 11 hours activity.


Whangarei Heads:



  • Darwin – Still no signal since 4/12/19, looking like transmitter failure.
  • Whitu ­– He is in the small wetland near the freezing works, Reotahi, with 11 hours nightly activity.
  • EB – In the pampas on the edge of the milled pine block, Kerr road. Activity 11 hours.
  • Pakipaki – In pampas south of the horse paddock at McLeod Bay, 10.5 hours activity.
  • Ross  – At the top end of Pepi road. Activity 11 hours.
  • Harikoa – Still in the wetland at the NE end of Campbell road, 12 hours activity. .
  • Wally – Found him! His transmitter channel had drifted up 3 points which is not a good sign! Daryl of Kiwi Track suggested a transmitter change before potential failure. I got him on the last afternoon before lockdown. He now has a new transmitter and was 2100 g in weight and in good condition. In his usual area in the rushes on the estuary edge.
  • Teina – He is still in the young pine block east of Owhiwa road, 10.5 hours nightly activity. I did his tx change:  105.0 mm bill length- so is fully grown, 2100 g in weight and good condition. It was a nice quiet catch so hope this sets a trend for him – kiwi often learn from tricky catches and become increasing hard to catch – they aren’t dumb!
  • Malaika – She has moved north one valley and is now at the end of Ross road, Kohi had previously be close to her for a while so some older girl may have moved her on? 11 hours activity.
  • Awhi – After 8 months settled in wetland/pines east of Campbell rd and near to Harikoa she has gone wandering again. She is now at the very end of Campbell road down near the Pataua estuary. Activity is 11.5 hours. I have contacted the landowners down that way.

These are the ONE dads who are feeding up before nesting.

  • Nick – Usual area in the Lovell’s bush near the hives,10.5 hours nightly activity.
  • Sancho – In his usual area, in the  paddock just NE of the reserve  His activity had dropped to 4.5 hours so it looks like he is starting to nest  .
  • Moeahu – Near the old slip in the NE reserve.  11.5 hours nightly activity.
  • Kimposter – In his usual area of SE reserve ,11 hours nightly activity.
  • Ngutu Roa – Usual area of SW reserve. Activity 10.5 hours.
  • Ngaro – In Purua reserve above the Lovells’ airstrip, 11 hours activity.

I found a new pair (both nude – no Tx, ID chip or leg band) up behind Lovells’ Irvine rd woolshed so I transmitted the male and ID chipped them both. Male :.  102.0 mm, 2300 g, MG, new tp 7b966cb. Female 155.0mm (bloody big), 3200g, G, new tp 7baecf5. Julia from Doc lives opposite this spot so can radio monitor any nesting. They will bring some new diversity in genetics to our ONE program.


Enjoy listening to your kiwi if you can and take the time to spruce up your home traps. Take care and keep safe.

Cheers Todd

Todd Hamilton

Backyard Kiwi Project Manager

Whangarei Heads Landcare Forum


M 021 1145 385





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