Last week I was invited to go along with rowi rangers Duncan and Sarah, to check up on rowi living on the islands in the Sounds.
We were visiting Blumine to check up on the unproductive birds translocated there last year in an attempt to see if this would help them to breed. Using their telemetry gear, Duncan and Sarah searched for the birds right the way round the island to find out where they had got to. This went well, with rowi spread throughout the wild bays and hill tops, so we carried on the Motuara, where we were staying the night, to check up on the juveniles still living on this creche island.
It’s awesome to stay on these predator-free islands, you get a real glimps of what New Zealand would have been like before the devastation to its native species by introduced mammals. The island is home to a number of bird species you just don’t see in daily life such as saddlebacks/tieke, South Island robins and little blue penguins – as well as rowi.
It was the robins that totally captivated me – so friendly and cheeky (one started to unravel all the red thread in Duncan’s sock!) They come right up to you and give you a beady look, perched on improbably thin legs.
These robins followed us on our work across the island and surrounded Sarah and I as we worked to change the transmitters of three young rowi. While we worked on these birds we managed to be pooped on twice – enough to cover both of us and some left over to hit Duncan too. I guess this comes with the territory when you work with kiwi but I was a little worried when I realised my change of trousers was back on the mainland in Picton!
It was certainly a smelly boat ride back from the islands but I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else in the world on that beautiful morning.