Banner Photo: Johno S and JohnoT in their transportation carrier for the ride to the kiwi crèche.
Fiona and Robyn received a message from Deb asking if they could do a nest raid on Johno. Data showed his transmitter battery was failing, he had been nesting for 88 days, and he hadn’t triggered a hatch. They should go prepared to find eggs or a chick. After checking the weather, Tuesday looked like the best day. It turned out to be a very hot day, the hottest for the year so far!
The pair were joined by Greg and Chris. Greg headed off at a rapid pace to the Three Gorges to get Hoover’s data, leaving Robyn, Chris and Fiona to plod up the Middle Hill track with the kiwi tracking gear and a couple of egg/chick boxes. Twenty minutes before the hut, they left the track, heading through manuka towards the beech forest where Johno usually lives. Once in the forest, they stopped and got a signal for Johno and recorded his data. It showed he was about to abandon his nest but still no hatch had been triggered.
The beech forest was easy going and they made good progress, finding Johno’s burrow not far from the old Middle Hill track. Fiona peeked in and could see Johno’s bill quite close to the entrance. Action stations – they prepared the carry boxes ready for an egg or chick and got the banding gear arranged. Firstly Fiona removed a lively chick from the burrow, then Johno. Robyn did a health check on him and replaced his transmitter.
Meanwhile Fiona looked into the burrow with a torch and spotted another chick tucked away around a corner at the back of the nest. Yee-ha, two healthy chicks! Then a quick text to the rest of the kiwi team at base to let them know there would be two chicks for our kiwi crèche at Lake Opouahi.
Once they’d completed the transmitter change, health check and Chris had recorded the new data, they packed up and headed out with the treasure. Greg caught up on the old Middle Hill track, they all had a bite to eat, and then the guys raced ahead again to get Blew’s data while Robyn and Fiona carried the chicks out.
A great start to 2023 for the Kaweka kiwi.