Wednesday, 24 March 2010

OROKONUI ECOSANCTUARY

By Sue Hensley

Despite the weather the launch of unguided walking was a buzz with
lots of people and lots of activities. A talk by Neville Peat on kiwi,
storytelling by Kaitrin McMullan and live music were just some of the
highlights. As track upgrades are completed they will be added into
the network of tracks available. It is hoped the Valley Track will be
finished and ready later this month.
The official opening of the Pa Harakeke/flax plantation will also take
place in April and a booklet is being designed giving information
about this amazing fibre, the background to this project and
tikaka/guidelines for its use.
Rats are at undetectable levels for the second time in a row and we
hope this current round of tracking tunnels confirms this low level.
If so, the proposed April robin transfer will go ahead. Dr Ian
Jamieson of the University of Otago Zoology Department is overseeing
this project. The birds are being sourced from commercial forest
plantations in Flagstaff and the Silverpeaks, which are scheduled to
be felled. The tricky thing about this transfer is that robins,
despite their small size, are renowned for flying straight back to
where they came from. Staff and students monitoring the robins will be
feeding out meal worms in the initial stages to encourage them to make
Orokonui home.
After successfully raising twins, the parent kaka re-nested at a new
site but abandoned it within a month. We presumed that was the finish
for the breeding season but at the end of February discovered the
female back in her old nest – this time with four eggs. Taking a photo
to find out what is happening in the nest is not easy as the nest
cavity is a deep one and about 4m up a tree. From the rather blurry
photo taken at the end of March it appears that possibly two have
hatched. Grey, down feathers indicate very young chicks only a couple
of weeks old.
The cafe and visitor centre are open seven days, 9.30-4.30. The Centre
is free to explore, as is the Pa Harakeke walk and the 9km perimeter
track. Guided tours are at 10.30am and 1.30pm. Unguided walking during
open hours.
• Orokonui Ecosanctuary: www.orokonui.org.nz,
www.facebook.com/pages/Orokonui-Ecosanctuary

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