Thursday, 23 July 2009

OROKONUI ECOSANCTUARY column

OROKONUI ECOSANCTUARY

by Sue Hensley

On 10 July our six-month-old kaka Matariki made its first visit
to the "kaka cafe" and hasn't moved very far away since. At the time of
writing it has not figured out how the nut dispenser works (stand on the
step and the lid opens) and has a love-hate relationship with it. On the one
hand it knows it contains easy food but on the other hand knows that it will
most likely be hit on the head as Dad hops off the step thereby releasing
the lid. Ouch!

The saddlebacks meanwhile remain fairly quiet and cryptic. However the
sorting out of territories has begun and the crew working in the field are
noticing where particular individuals might be seen or heard. One bird
(assuming it is the same one) seems to have taken up residence near the top
gate and has been seen eating lancewood berries next to the track as well as
fossicking for insects amongst the fallen pines.

Our Conservation Manager Elton has come back from a month's leave full of
enthusiasm – just as well since there is a huge job ahead. Having decided
that the detected presence of ship rats within the Ecosantuary is too big a
risk to continue targetted trapping alone he is rejigging the whole of the
monitoring tracks and tunnels throughout the area as well as setting up a
considerable number of permanent bait stations. This task will take a few
months but will hopefully lead to the eradication of these rats. The ship
rat (Rattus rattus) is the most arboreal of the rat species and is rather
partial to eggs, small birds and lizards. It is possible that some escaped
initial detection by living high up in the Eucalyptus trees.

The Ecosanctuary is open exclusively for guided tours at present. Bookings
are essential. Tours cost $20 adult, $10 child with half price for members.
Tours are for 1½ - 2 hours for a maximum of 8 people per guide. Come and see
this fantastic forest restoration project in progress, learn about the
changes that have already been made and support the development of the
Ecosanctuary.

For enquiries the office number is 482 1755. For further information on the
Ecosanctuary, visit www.orokonui.org.nz or see our box at the Blueskin Bay
Library.

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