Saturday, 22 May 2010

Orokonui Ecosanctuary

By Sue Hensley

It is with sorrow we note the passing of local, Terry Sheppard. Terry's
relationship with the Orokonui forest goes back many years before the
Ecosanctuary was even thought of. He cut and kept open some of the
tracks in there, enjoying the peace of the valley, and remained a
regular walker in Orokonui until his death.

Initially he had severe reservations about the proposed fenced
sanctuary and attended most of the local meetings to air his concerns.
He was keenly interested in
all aspects of the project, often asking challenging questions. But by
2006 he was a supporter.

In March of that year he held a party for the birds, opening his home,
Egmont Castle, to a large number of interested people who paid a gold
coin donation for the privilege. All proceeds
went to the Orokonui Ecosanctuary and, as Terry put it, helping to
bring back the kiwi. Unfortunately he did not live to see the return
of the kiwi which we hope will take place later this year.

The first rare plant translocation has been undertaken. Val Fay of
Green Fingers fame has been cultivating this grassy sedge (Carex
inopinata) until there were enough to plant out in several locations.
This is also part of a research project that will look at factors
governing growth success in an area free of mammalian browsers.

Two more kaka chicks have fledged and one of the juvenile tieke/
saddleback appears to have taken up a territory close to the valley
track where it has been seen by two school groups who were walking down the
valley. A kereru pair have been seen feeding their chick near the
platform and added value was given to one group studying seed
dispersal when a kereru poo jam-packed full of seeds literally dropped
in from the sky.

The robins have been very quiet and one has been spotted back at home
in the Silverpeaks. The success of this translocation will not be
fully known until spring.

Ever been up close and personal with fungi or mosses? Two Orokonui
field trips (including microscopic analysis) are planned for June.
David Orlovich is leading the Fungi Foray on the 12th and Maia Mistral
is delving into Magical Mosses and Liverworts on the 13th. Both are
10am-3pm and $39 a head.

The Visitor Centre and café are open every day from 9.30sm - 4.30pm.
The Centre is
free to explore as is the Pa Harakeke walk (Flax Plantation) and the
9km perimeter track. Guided and unguided walks available. We have a
Facebook page as well as a website, www.orokonui.org.nz, to keep you up
to date.


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Warrington, Evansdale, Waitati, Doctors Point), Dunedin, New Zealand.
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