Monday, 3 February 2014

Orokonui Ecosanctuary

by Sue Hensley
The recent prolonged wet weather has left the forest looking very healthy and the tracks a little water damaged but nothing too serious. The Conservation Manager Elton, however, has had a thoroughly interrupted festive season with water gates not closing properly or being jammed with vegetation after rain events and setting off alarms via the duty cell phone, which then have to be investigated and remedied. There are three field staff who normally share the burden of the 24/7 duty phone, but this year Elton offered to take the phone for a full two weeks little realising what the weather had in store for him.
It may have been the failure of one of these gates to close that led to the escape of a tuatara and yet another call out for Elton. An eagle-eyed couple walking up the stream track to the fence couldn't believe their eyes when they saw a tuatara scuttle off into the grass in front of them. Using the old Girl Guide method, they constructed an arrow with stones to indicate where it was last seen and then contacted reception who contacted Elton who managed to catch it pretty much where it had been described to be. She's a very lucky tuatara to have been spotted by humans, as cats, stoats and rats would have found her an easy meal.
Young birds and family groups are plentiful at this time of year – bellbirds, tui, riflemen and fernbirds particularly. The re-introductions, too, seem to be doing well with 141 robins fledged this season and 15 saddlebacks, which is a hopeful start to building a core population in Orokonui.
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