Forest & Bird Magazine 316 May 2005

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FOREST BIRD Number 316 • May 2005

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Saving the Ark • Braided Rivers The Kermadecs • Subantarctic Seas Save the Albatross • Giants of Gondwana


Great spotted kiwi

Kakapo

This year there was new hope in the form of the kiwi, kakapo and kokako chicks that hatched at Tiritiri Matangi Island, Boundary Stream and Codfish Island. These are all places where Forest and Bird has had a major involvement through our local branches and membership of the Kakapo Recovery Programme. With so many of our unique birds still threatened with extinction it's more important than ever to keep hope alive for them. You can help us keep hope alive by joining Forest and Bird. As a new or existing member you can pay your membership and donations by direct debit. This saves the Society administrative costs.

Each year Forest and Bird processes 25,000 cheques which is time consuming and labour intensive. So to help us put more money into conservation and give species such as kiwi and kakapo a brighter future, we invite you to join or renew your membership by direct debit. Simply fill out the direct debit form at the back of this magazine, or get a copy of it from the Forest and Bird website, or call freephone to order a copy. When you complete the form, all you have to do is post it to Forest and Bird and we will set up your direct debit membership and donations for you. It's as simple as that.

Website: www.forestandbird.org.nz Email: office@forestandbird.org.nz

✆ Freephone: 0800 200 064 ✆ Wellingon number: 04 385 7374 ii

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BOTH PHOTOS: ROD MORRIS © DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION/TE PAPA ATAWHAI

Keeping hope alive


FOREST BIRD N umber 316 • May 2005 • www.forestandbird.org.nz

Features

14 Save the Albatross A speech given by HRH The Prince of Wales in New Zealand.

16 Saving the Ark DOC's struggle to safeguard our most threatened birds. by Dave Hansford

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21 Subantarctic seas Where the seal and the albatross roam. by Michael Szabo and Barry Weeber

26 Braided rivers, hidden treasures Wild places where a special group of wading birds breed. by Geoff Keey

30 Captain Kermadec's avian isles Coral trees meet sublime seabirds. by Brent Stephenson

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Forest & Bird is published every February, May, August and November by the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society Inc. The Society's objectives are to preserve and protect the indigenous flora and fauna and natural features and landscapes of New Zealand for their intrinsic worth and for the benefit of all people. Forest and Bird is a member of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the New Zealand Partner Designate of BirdLife International. The opinions of contributors to Forest & Bird are not necessarily those of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, nor its editor. Forest & Bird is printed on Media Gloss, a totally chlorine-free (TCF) paper which is made from wood fibre sourced from sustainably managed forests. * Registered at PO Headquarters, Wellington, as a magazine. ISSN 0015-7384. © Copyright. All rights reserved.

Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc. Editor: Michael Szabo PO Box 631, Wellington. Tel: (04) 385-7374, Fax: (04) 385-7373 Email: m.szabo@forestandbird.org.nz Designer: Dave Kent Design Prepress/Printing: Astra Print Advertising: Vanessa Clegg Print Advertising Ltd, PO Box 13-128, Auckland. Tel: (09) 634-4982, Fax (09) 634-4951 Email: printad.auck@xtra.co.nz

General Manager: Mike Britton Conservation Manager: Kevin Hackwell Communications Manager: Michael Szabo Conservation Services Manager: Julie Watson Central Office: 172 Taranaki St, Wellington. Postal address: PO Box 631, Wellington. Tel: (04) 385-7374, Fax: (04) 385-7373 Email: office@forestandbird.org.nz Web: www.forestandbird.org.nz Field Officers: Dave Pattemore PO Box 67 123, Mt Eden, Auckland. Tel: (09) 631 7142 Fax: (09) 631 7149 Email: d.pattemore@forestandbird.org.nz Debs Martin PO Box 266, Nelson. Tel: (03) 545 8222 Fax: (03) 545 8213 Email: d.martin@forestandbird.org.nz Eugenie Sage PO Box 2516, Christchurch. Tel: (03) 366 6317 Fax: (03) 365 0788 Email: e.sage@forestandbird.org.nz Sue Maturin PO Box 6230, Dunedin. Tel: (03) 477 9677 Fax: (03) 477 5232 Email: s.maturin@forestandbird.org.nz Ann Graeme, KCC Coordinator 53 Princess Rd, Tauranga Tel: (07) 576-5593 Fax (07) 576-5109 Email: basil@bopis.co.nz

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38 Giants of Gondwana Amber jewels from an ancient landscape. by Stephanie Mills

Regulars 2 Comment 4 Conservation Briefs Boundary Stream; Easter hope for kakapo; Yellow kea; Stitchbird; Hawaii's po'o-uli; New General Manager appointed; Living Rivers; Blumine Island; Maungatautari; Tracking albatrosses; Hoiho; Haast's eagle; Kiwi bill grows back; Undaria spreads.

36 Itinerant Ecologist Forests, teeming with birds. by Geoff Park

42 In the Field Living with lizards. by Ann Graeme

44 Branching Out Kiwi survey rescued; Ken Catt and Margaret Peace receive QSMs; Volunteers for Mana; KCC coordinators gather.

45 Bulletin Resource management workshops; Save the Albatross campaign meets; Notice of AGM; Wildlife-friendly subdivisions.

47 Book Notes Book reviews. 49 Branches and Lodges Directory COVER: The blue duck (whio) is one of the species to benefit from Operation Ark (see page 16). Photographer Rod Morris used a Nikon F100 camera with a 400 mm lens for the shot. PHOTOGRAPH: ROD MORRIS F O R E S T & B I R D • M AY 2 0 0 5

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Comment Comment Vote for the Earth

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HIS is election year. I want to flag four issues for you to consider: the future of the Department of Conservation (DOC), the creation of high country tussockland parks, sustainable energy, and marine reserves. The first two are closely linked because they reach to the heart of natural land management in New Zealand. DOC has managed nearly a third of our land area since its creation in 1986, and has advocated for the protection of natural heritage beyond those lands. Its management is a vast improvement on what we had before. Partly in response to Forest and Bird's advocacy, the Labour-led governments of the last five years have significantly increased DOC funding. The Society has championed expansion of the DOC estate and congratulates the government on the addition of newly protected lands, including Molesworth, West Coast Timberland's forests, 100,000 hectares of South Island high country, and Kaikoura Island off Great Barrier Island. Yet, in March, at Molesworth Station, National leader Don Brash promised a "full review of DOC's mission and functions" ... "We know that DOC's tentacles are everywhere to the frustration of farmers throughout New Zealand." He described the creation of the network of new high country parks and reserves as a "deliberate, planned government land grab". Surprisingly, his views were echoed by Dr Nick Smith, a former National conservation minister. At Molesworth, Dr Smith said "DOC's got quite out of control particularly in its advocacy functions and has shifted away from its core stuff around protected species and management of National Parks". The National viewpoint, which has long been espoused by ACT's Gerry Eckhoff, now seems to have also found favour with United Future which also

wants to break DOC into two halves. Forest and Bird is championing the creation of a network of South Island high country parks and reserves. There are few public reserves on the 20% of the South Island that lies within the pastoral leasehold lands despite these having huge natural variety and being home to many rare and special native plants and wildlife. The voluntary tenure review process will enable the creation of a protected area network to safeguard the high country's largest, most special natural areas and landscapes. Private landowners like myself will also need to keep doing their best to safeguard those often smaller natural areas and landscapes that will be freeholded under the review process and those natural areas that remain as pastoral lease land. Most parties have a lot of work to do to promote energy conservation and limit greenhouse gas emissions. To its credit, the government faced down opposition from business and farmers and signed the Kyoto Protocol, which has now come into effect. National opposes the Protocol despite its past comments about the seriousness of climate change. Practical actions need to be taken by New Zealanders and government to reduce emissions. Wind generation is expanding, but mandatory double glazing, low-cost solar water heating, and mandatory energy efficient lighting in every home still seem many years away. In March Forest and Bird greeted news that the government had approved the North Nelson Marine Reserve. Sadly, elsewhere under Labour, progress on creating marine reserves has been slow. National created many marine reserves when it was last in Government. At the 2002 election, it chided Labour for its failure to match National's marine reserve achievements. Yet under its new leader, National seems to have 'dropped the ball'

with marine reserves. There also remains a great need to better manage fisheries. Too many albatrosses and sea lions are being killed and too many stocks overfished. The government has so far failed to prevent the needless slaughter of marine wildlife. Here, the Greens deserve praise for keeping the issue before Parliament. With marine conservation in mind, I would like to ask you all to contribute as much as you are able to our recent appeal to help Forest and Bird Save the Albatross. I met Prince Charles in March when he visited New Zealand and he gave his full support to the Society's marine conservation work. He is using his influence to help the ongoing campaign to Save the Albatross worldwide. Please do what you can to support it as well. Finally, I want to welcome the Society's new general manager, Mike Britton, who now heads the Forest and Bird staff team. Mike is an avid conservationist with a track record of conservation work inside and outside Government, and is well-known to many campaigners for his successful efforts to help save native forests and rivers, and to protect National Parks. Congratulations also to new communications manager, Michael Szabo, for this, his first issue of Forest & Bird. Good luck Forest and Birders. Think globally, act locally and vote wisely. Gerry McSweeney National President

Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc. (Founded 1923) Registered Office at 172 Taranaki Street, Wellington. PATRON: Her Excellency The Hon. Dame Silvia Cartwright PCNZM, DBE, Governor-General of New Zealand NATIONAL PRESIDENT: Dr Gerry McSweeney QSO DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Dr Peter Maddison NATIONAL TREASURER: Dr Barry Wards EXECUTIVE COUNCILLORS: Keith Beautrais, Jocelyn Bieleski, Anne Fenn, Mark Fort,

Dr Philip Hart, Dr Herb Madgwick, Prof. Alan Mark DCNZM, CBE, Dr Liz Slooten. DISTINGUISHED LIFE MEMBERS: Dr Bill Ballantine MBE, Stan Butcher, Ken Catt QSM, Audrey Eagle CNZM, Dr Alan Edmonds, Gordon Ell ONZM, Hon. Tony Ellis CNZM, Hon. Sandra Lee-Vercoe QSO JP, Stewart Gray, Les Henderson, Reg Janes, Joan Leckie, Prof. Alan Mark dcnzm CBE, Dr Gerry McSweeney QSO, Prof. John Morton QSO, Margaret Peace QSM, Guy Salmon, Gordon Stephenson CNZM, David Underwood. 2

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Obituary Keith Chapple QSO 1943 – 2005

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T IS WITH great sadness that we acknowledge the death on Tuesday 29th March of Keith Chapple, conservationist, Forest and Bird distinguished life member, and immediate past president. Keith became active in Forest and Bird in 1980, becoming the King Country branch's chair and councillor from 1985 to 1990. In 1990 Keith was elected to the executive. He became deputy president in 1993 and formed the Society's executive legal committee in 1994, instigating the environmental defence f und for branch legal activities. Keith went on to serve as national president from 1997 to 2001. He will always be associated with the conservation of whio (blue duck) and the rivers flowing from the Central North Island which were their habitat. He led the successful five-year legal campaign to raise water levels in the Whanganui River and later campaigned successfully for a Water Conservation Order on the Manganui-a-te-ao. For nine years Keith served on the Tongariro power development working party and was involved in the negotiation of all the water flow resource consents. Keith also negotiated the creation of

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the Central North Island blue duck trust which has been an essential part of the ongoing work to save this unique endangered torrent duck. Keith took an active part in the campaign to create the 37,000 hectare Tongariro/Erua Forest Park and was a member of the Taranaki/ Whanganui conservation board as well as a ministerial appointee on the Kaimanawa horse advisory board. Keith conceived and ran the Kiwis for Kiwis campaign: a major factor in the government's decision to spend an extra $10 million on kiwi and establish five kiwi 'mainland island' sanctuaries. As the Society's energy and 'hydro' spokesman, he assisted several branches to successfully resist local hydroelectricity plans. During his time as president he was also a strong supporter of the Society's stand against the Timberlands proposals for logging West Coast native forests. In 1988 the Society acknowledged Keith's contribution to conservation with an Old Blue Award. In 2000 Keith was awarded a Queens Service Order (QSO) for services to conservation. Keith will be remembered as a staunch conservationist who was not afraid to take on the 'big boys'. It takes determination

to try to convince electricity companies to reduce their use of water, but he spent years of his life doing so, making friends in unexpected places and achieving a compromise that significantly benefited the environment. Sadly, Keith was involved in a serious car accident a year ago. We understand that he died of ongoing complications while in Waikato hospital. His tangi (funeral) was held at the Kakahi marae, Taumarunui, on Friday 1st April. Our sincere sympathies go out to Keith's family. He will be greatly missed by his many friends and conservation colleagues. Gerry McSweeney National President

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conservationbriefs

KAHORI NAKAGAWA Š DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION/TE PAPA ATAWHAI

Dawn chorus boost for Boundary Stream

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OCAL Forest and Bird branches and Department of Conservation (DOC) staff celebrated the arrival of the first kiwi and kokako chicks to hatch in the wild at the Boundary Stream Mainland Island in Hawke's Bay over the summer, following the release of adult birds there in recent years. The 800 hectare scenic reserve 60 km north-west of Napier is intensively managed as a mainland island where predators are controlled to low numbers. The arrival of the new chicks at the reserve will also help boost the prospects for both globally threatened species which are unique to New Zealand. The first North Island brown kiwi chick to hatch in the reserve since intensive restoration work and predator control began in 1996 has been named "Makino" and is the offspring of two kiwi released there in 2002. The chick was named after the area near to where its grandparents live in Kaweka Forest Park in the Hawke's Bay. The nine North Island kokako chicks that hatched over the summer were the first to hatch in the wild in the Hawke's Bay for over one hundred years, although one

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chick has since disappeared. Feather samples from the chicks were sent to Massey University for sex identification. This revealed three kokako chicks to be male which will improve the gender balance of this species in the mainland island. Early in 2004, three female chicks from two kokako pairs hatched in aviaries located at Boundary Stream. The chicks and ten adult kokako were held in the aviaries from 2001 and were released into the forest at Boundary Stream at intervals during 2004. The successful breeding of potentially six pairs of kokako this year is a key step towards establishing a self-sustaining population in Boundary Stream Mainland Island. DOC's Boundary Stream team leader, Tamsin WardSmith, says "Support from the public for the project has been fantastic and the reward for everyone has been seeing and hearing these beautiful birds back in Hawke's Bay forest. The department is especially grateful for all the hard work that local Forest and Bird branch members and other volunteers from the local community have put into the project." Between them, Forest and Bird branches in Napier,

Brent Stephenson

"Makino" is the first North Island brown kiwi to hatch at the Boundary Stream Mainland Island since intensive management work began in 1996. The last resident kiwi here is thought to have disappeared late last century.

DOC ranger Kahori Nakagawa bands one of nine kokako chicks that hatched at the Boundary Stream scenic reserve over the summer, the first chicks to do so in the Hawke's Bay for more than one hundred years.

Hastings/Havelock North, and Central Hawke's Bay have contributed approximately 1,000 volunteer days and $20,000 to the project over the past five years. This has been used to help build aviaries for the kokako, feed the captive kokako, carry out pest control, propagate and plant kakabeak, fund saddleback monitoring, and fund further research, according to Hastings/Havelock North branch member and long-term volunteer Brent Stephenson. North Island robin (toutouwai) have previously been successfully re-established at the reserve, adding to the

impressive dawn chorus of abundant tui, bellbird (korimako), rifleman (titipounamu), whitehead (popokatea) and grey warbler (riroriro). Boundary Stream is on the eastern flanks of the Maungahaururu Range and includes a variety of habitats from lowland forest to montane shrubland, and scenic Shine Falls. The reserve is located east of the main NapierWairoa highway and can be accessed by turning east at the Tutira school and shop onto Pohokura Road. More info: www.doc.govt.nz

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Kea gold struck down south

Rod Morris

Easter hope for kakapo

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Rod Morris

UNEDIN photographer Rod Morris slept under a damp rock and braved mountain storms for a week to photograph the only yellow kea to be seen since the late 1800s. The last time a yellow kea was seen was when one was shot by a hunter in the headwaters of the Shotover River in 1887/88 under the bounty system. Its yellow sibling was also shot for Walter Buller's collection.

In spite of the slaughter of around 150,000 kea under the bounty system no other yellow kea were seen, making them exceptionally rare. Colour morphs of parrots are rare but not unusual. Thankfully, nowadays, kea are more likely to be shot on film than with a bullet, so this yellow kea is unlikely to share the fate of its predecessors. Geoff Keey

Kakapo numbers are increasing with five new chicks this year. Recently retired, Don Merton has been at the forefront of kakapo conservation for decades.

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FTER a lapse of three years kakapo have successfully bred again on predator-free Codfish Island/Whenua Hou. Three chicks hatched just before Easter, followed by two more shortly after, bringing the population of this critically endangered flightless parrot to 88. The kakapo population could soon be at its highest level in 25 years. The best kakapo breeding years coincide with abundant mast years when there is plenty of rimu fruit. The 2004-2005 breeding season has been a modest rimu year, but supplementary feeding has also been carried out by the Kakapo Recovery Team. "We are, as yet, uncertain what sparked breeding this year, but if in fact it was the green supplementary foods, then this will represent an important break through," says Department of Conservation (DOC) kakapo guru Don Merton. Forest and Bird, DOC and Comalco are partners in the

Kakapo Recovery Programme which has worked for 12 years to save the species from extinction. Forest and Bird conservation manager Kevin Hackwell welcomed the news and commended all involved for their dedicated hard work. "We hope the government will increase funding for DOC in the next budget so that more can be done to conserve kakapo and the other 70 globally threatened species of bird that breed in New Zealand." Conservation minister Chris Carter announced the arrival of the first of the new chicks, welcoming it as "fantastic news". He observed that, "DOC does not always get the credit it deserves for its contribution to New Zealand's environment and society ... It is times like this we realise how lucky we are to have a world-leading conservation agency." DOC says it expects the next breeding season to be a good one because rimu are already showing good signs of fruiting.

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L. KENDRICK © DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION

conservationbriefs Stitchbird makes mainland comeback

New research shows the stitchbird or hihi may belong to a new family of birds.

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ISITORS to Wellington's Karori Wildlife Sanctuary saw conservation history being made on January 17th when 30 stitchbirds (hihi) were returned to the New Zealand mainland for the first time in over one hundred years. The release of the birds by conservation minister Chris Carter and environment minister Marian Hobbs was the first step in a new five-year recovery plan to conserve the endangered species being coordinated by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and supported by Forest and Bird, Friends of Tiritiri Matangi, and the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary.

The birds were transferred from Tiritiri Matangi Island where the North Shore Forest and Bird branch has a long history of involvement, providing both practical and financial assistance to the Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi in their work to ensure the ongoing recovery of rare and endangered species such as hihi. It wasn't long before the mercurial birds were seen in the vicinity of feeding stations in the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, which also attract bellbird (korimako) and tui. The hihi are a welcome addition to the sanctuary

following previous successful releases of North Island saddleback (tieke), North Island robin (toutouwai) and North Island kaka. The transfer followed the launch of the new species recovery plan by prime minister Helen Clark and Chris Carter on Tiritiri Matangi Island in January. Currently only a single selfsustaining population remains on Little Barrier/Hauturu Island. At the launch, Helen Clark described the recovery plan as an exciting development in hihi conservation because of its goal of creating four more self-sustaining populations to ensure the survival of the species. "The challenge is to take what works on Little Barrier and try to replicate it on other islands and the mainland. With research, careful management, and public support hihi have a real chance of getting a foothold on the mainland and surviving long-term." Hihi were once found throughout the North Island

but declined because of loss of forested areas and the introduction of predators and avian diseases. The stitchbird is now listed as a 'nationally endangered' species. Chris Carter said stitchbirds have been successfully transferred to Tiritiri Matangi and Kapiti islands, but require intensive human management to survive. "Key to this recovery plan is finding sites where the forest provides enough food and nesting sites, and pests such as rats and possums are absent or controlled, so that the bird populations can become selfsustaining," he said. A grant of $18,500 from the New Zealand National Parks and Conservation Foundation will help fund research into hihi recovery. Recent genetic analysis has revealed hihi may belong to a new family of birds – yet to be named – found only in New Zealand. Until now it was thought the stitchbird belonged to the honeyeater family along with the tui and bellbird.

USFWS

Hawaiian bird on the brink

Po'o-uli

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NOTHER of Hawaii's unique bird species has taken a step closer to extinction with the death in captivity of possibly the last Hawaiian po'o-uli left in the world. Captive breeding efforts began in 2003, when members of the Maui forest bird recovery project attempted to locate and trap all three remaining wild birds. One was finally captured in September 2004, but sadly this individual – possibly the last of its kind – died in November 2004. Forest and Bird conservation

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manager Kevin Hackwell says the news is a sobering reminder of the precarious situation faced by many unique bird species in the Pacific region. New Zealand has 71 bird species listed as globally threatened compared to 28 in Hawaii. "New Zealand could still lose some threatened species unless urgent action is taken to save them. The most important step is for the Government to significantly increase funding for DOC." The po'o-uli belongs to one of the world's most threatened

bird families – the Hawaiian honeycreepers. The species was discovered in 1973, when its population was estimated at less than 200 individuals. In common with many other native Hawaiian birds it is thought that habitat loss and degradation – often caused by invasive feral pigs – and the rapid spread of introduced mosquitoes carrying diseases such as avian malaria have contributed to the species' massive decline. "The tragic death of this bird means that we may now be too late to prevent the addition of po'o-uli to the long list of recent bird extinctions in Hawaii. It should serve as a wakeup call to redouble efforts to save Hawaii's threatened bird species, in particular the 12 species listed as critically endangered," said BirdLife International's Stuart Butchart.

"Hawaii's bird extinction crisis is a global tragedy that is largely being ignored. That the world's wealthiest nation, the USA, is allowing bird extinctions to continue, largely unchecked, in its own back yard is unconscionable," said Dr George H Fenwick, President of the American Bird Conservancy. As a result it seems the po'ouli looks set to soon join the other 13 extinct members of its family, along with many other Hawaiian endemic land birds that now can only be seen as stuffed specimens in museums. A further seven species of Hawaiian honeycreeper are classified as critically endangered, with another endemic land bird, the Hawaiian crow, now officially considered extinct in the wild with only a few birds clingingon in captivity. Source: World Birdwatch/ BirdLife International

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Forest and Bird

New General Manager appointed

Mike Britton

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OREST AND BIRD has appointed conservation strategist Mike Britton to fill the Society's re-defined lead position of general manager. As general manager, he will have overall responsibility for the Society's staff, a move to ensure greater cohesion and integration. Mike combines a strong background in strategic, operational and business planning with a long-term involvement in nature conservation and protection, according to national president, Dr Gerry McSweeney. "Forest and Bird has a proud 82-year history of

championing the protection of nature. In today's political and business environment, effective conservation work requires consideration to rigorous strategic, organisational and managerial skills to support dedicated and skilled conservation experts," says Dr McSweeney. "This new appointment will provide overall vision, direction and leadership to all the Society's staff in delivering a wide range of conservation, administrative and membership services that ensure the Society achieves its objectives." "Mike also has a special

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interest in providing stable and focused leadership for the Society and consolidating its position as New Zealand's foremost effective conservation and environmental advocate." Mike has had management experience in the public service, the Public Service Association (PSA) and other private interests. He was the first executive officer for the Queen Elizabeth II national trust and has held a variety of senior managerial positions with the department of lands and survey and the department of conservation. He worked as senior advisor to a number of government ministers including the Minister of Conservation during the restructuring of the environmental and conservation agencies and the development of the resource management legislation. Mike was recently assistant director of Fish and Game New Zealand. His career has also involved a long association with Forest and Bird, its national councillors,

conservation managers and staff. Mike says he misses being part of the mainstream conservation effort and sees Forest and Bird as second to none in New Zealand as an institution recognised and respected by opinion leaders and the community. "While providing stability and focus as a leader, I intend to work towards retaining the strength of the Society's brand and conservation values, and to work with other organisations to achieve common goals to enhance its own effectiveness. I also want to promote a culture of increased communication, especially between staff and branches, and an even stronger sense of shared purpose." He says his main priorities will be to better integrate the administrative, communications and campaigning functions of the Society, to broaden and deepen membership, and to increase the level of interest in the activities of branches.

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conservationbriefs Standing up for Living Rivers ACH YEAR kayakers gather on the Buller River near the top of the South Island for a weekend of kayaking and fun called the Buller Fest. This year's Fest in March was a bit different; amongst the fun there was also a serious message – it is time for everyone who cares about New Zealand's rivers to stand up and be counted. Kayakers, anglers and local Forest and Bird members staked public notices up and down the Buller Valley warning about a proposal to divert one of its tributaries, the Gowan River, which flows from Lake Rotoroa in Nelson Lakes National Park, for hydroelectricity generation. The protest was the third event organised by Living Rivers, a new coalition of Forest and Bird, Fish and Game, New Zealand Recreational Canoeing Association and Federated Mountain Clubs. Since the national launch in Hamilton on the Waikato River in December, supporters have

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Nelson Evening Mail

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Kayakers, anglers and Forest and Bird members rally to protect the Gowan River that flows into the Buller River from Lake Rotoroa, the largest lake in Nelson Lakes National Park. The Majac Trust plans to divert the Gowan River for hydroelectric development, despite protection of the Gowan under the Buller River Water Conservation Order.

been staking public notices warning of water pollution at popular rivers up and down the country. The notices inform visitors about river pollution and warn that they are unsafe for swimming or drinking. The coalition aims to raise

awareness that New Zealand's streams and rivers face growing threats from pollution, irrigation, proposed hydroelectric development, and poor environmental management. There is abundant evidence that many waterways are so polluted that they breach health safety standards and are unsafe. The parliamentary commissioner for the environment, Dr Morgan Williams, reported that in the Waikato region in 2004, bacterial concentrations at 53 out of 73 sites tested exceeded guidelines for freshwater recreation In November 2004 Dr Williams warned in his report "Growing for Good?" that the rapid expansion of the use of nitrogen fertilisers, higher farm stock rates, and irrigation farming now threaten New Zealand's soil and freshwater ecosystems. Excessive enrichment of waterways with nutrients has led to a surge in bacteria and blue-green algae blooms. Several Rotorua lakes now suffer from algal blooms that produce toxins, which can cause skin rashes, hay fever and asthma, as well as liver and nervous system problems. In 2003, the Government's annual report on the implementation of the Biodiversity Strategy also warned that some freshwater

species are headed for extinction. Last year, the ministry of economic development identified 65 major hydroelectric schemes as likely to be built in the next 20 years. Many more schemes were listed as possible candidates for hydroelectric development. Spectacular iconic South Island rivers including the Clutha, Waitaki, Ngaruroro, and Hurunui are all on the ministry's list. These rivers have major environmental and recreational values that would be severely damaged by diversion and damming for hydroelectricity development. Even the Dobson scheme, illegal under current conservation law, is on the ministry's list of likely projects. The Living Rivers coalition plans more events to raise the profile of New Zealand's rivers throughout the year. "This is more than just a local action," said Dianne John, a Forest and Bird member who helped stake public notices in Marlborough. "We are part of like-minded groups throughout New Zealand who are coming together to express their concern about the degradation of some of the world's most beautiful and unique rivers." Emma Johansen and Geoff Keey

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Michael Szabo

More birdlife for Mana

One of the fairy prion chicks transferred to Mana Island in recent years.

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HERE was good news from Mana Island after the first fairy prion (titi wainui) returned over the summer having been transferred there during the 2001 breeding season. Yellow-crowned parakeets (kakariki) were also reported to be propagating prolifically during the second half of last year after 26 birds were

transferred there in June 2004 from Te Kakaho Island in the Chetwood Islands group, Marlborough Sounds. Several pairs nested in artificial nest boxes. Both the fairy prion and kakariki transfers were carried out by DOC and supported by volunteers from local Forest and Bird branches and the Friends of Mana Island.

New island sanctuary for the Sounds

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OREST AND BIRD has welcomed news that the Department of Conservation (DOC) will turn Blumine Island in Queen Charlotte Sound into the most publicly accessible island wildlife sanctuary close to the South Island. DOC hopes to begin the eradication of pests funded as part of the government's Biodiversity Strategy. This will be followed by the development of walking tracks and picnic areas. The island is also important for giant land snails and is thought to have the highest density of New Zealand's unique Powelliphanta snails. "Longer term, the challenge is to restore birdlife on the mainland, but this is another welcome step along the way. This island will add to a growing list of important island sanctuaries that already includes Kapiti, Tiritiri Matangi, Maud, Mana, Codfish/ Whenua Hou, Secretary and

Resolution islands," says Forest and Bird conservation manager, Kevin Hackwell. The decision to set up the new sanctuary was made because of the island's location in the heart of a major tourism area and the limited number of introduced predators, according to conservation minister Chris Carter, who announced the plans in December. "By removing pests, primarily stoats and mice, we will be able to relocate visitor-friendly native species, such as South Island robin (toutouwai), South Island saddleback and kakariki, to Blumine. Over the longer term, kiwi, geckos and longtailed bats (pekapeka) may follow. These species will join native giant land snails, South Island kaka, weka and little blue penguins, already in residence," he said. "It will be easy for people to get to Blumine and see their native species up close. The island is just an hour by boat from Picton."

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trust's chief executive, Jim Mylchreest. The Maungatautari restoration plan involves encircling the site with a predator-proof fence and bringing back unique New Zealand species that once lived there, including North Island brown kiwi, North Island kokako, North Island kakariki (parakeets), tuatara, North Island kaka and the endangered Cook's petrel (titi), a seabird species that used to breed on the mainland but which is now restricted to a few offshore island breeding sites on Little Barrier/Hauturu, Great Barrier /Aotea, and Codfish/Whenua Hou islands. The southern enclosure was completed in September with a grant fromt the Lion Foundation and immediately sealed-off to allow monitoring following two aerial poison drops to eradicate introduced predators, which appear to have been successful. Funds of $7.2 million – half the target of $14 million required to fence off Maungatautari – have now been raised which enabled the predator-proof fence to be erected around two enclosures, small-scale examples of the wider project, last year. There are sufficient funds remaining to build 20 km of perimeter fence during 2005. The project is 'on target' and 'on budget' to complete the perimeter fence next year. The open day was a chance for the public to view progress and meet Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust staff and trustees, and Forest and Bird members involved with the project including deputy president Dr Peter Maddison and Gordon Stephenson. Visitors were able to walk along the first track in the enclosure where speakers dotted along the route gave brief informative talks describing future reintroductions, pest monitoring, insect life, flora, and plans to build more bridges and tracks. More info: www.maungatrust.org

Trust staff member Jillana Robertson explains to visitors how and why the pest eradication operation is being carried out at Maungatautari.

G. SHIRLEY © DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION/TE PAPA ATAWHAI

THOUSAND kiwis of the human variety flocked to the Maungatautari restoration trust site near Pukeatua during an open day on Sunday 7th November 2004. Visitors included many Forest and Bird members from around the Waikato, Auckland and Bay of Plenty. The open day celebrated the completion of a new predatorproof fence around the second enclosure to be finished at the 3,400 hectare Maungatautari site, the latest stage in the ambitious project to restore the dawn chorus to the mountain. The trust hopes it will become the largest restoration project in New Zealand involving the total eradication of all pests at the site. The Waikato and South Waikato Forest and Bird branches have donated over $10,000 and thousands of volunteer work days to the project so far. According to South Waikato branch committee member Gordon Stephenson, who also chairs the trust's science and research committee, "The significance of the project goes beyond this region. It is truly national and international. Our surviving native bird species and other wildlife need a number of safe refuges around the country that are big enough to be working ecosystems and big enough to be managed on their own after reintroductions of kiwi and other native species. In this respect, it's a world first on this scale." The project also received an extra boost with the discovery of a new colony of the endangered native Hochstetter's frog on Mt Maungatautari late last year. Eleven of the frogs were found surviving in a fragile, rocky area on the mountain. "It is wonderful that we have our own resident population which has survived on the mountain. The race is now on to erect the pestproof fence around the whole mountain and protect these threatened frogs and any other species that may be surviving in small numbers," says the

Hochststter's frogs were discovered on Maungatautari late last year, one of only three native frog species that remain in New Zealand.

R. VEITCH © DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION/TE PAPA ATAWHAI

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Phil Brown

conservationbriefs 'Kiwis' flock to Maungatautari

The trust plans to restore the endangered Cook's petrel to the mainland at Maungatautari for the first time in centuries. wwwwww. f. o f or e r es ts a t an nd db bi ri d r d. o. or g r g. n. nz z


Hot spots for cool birds

BirdLife International

This map, showing the at-sea range and density distribution of breeding albatrosses, is based on satellite tracking of birds from the subantarctic islands, the Chatham Islands and Taiaroa Head. The nine species of albatross included were Antipodean, (Gibson's), black-browed, Buller's, Chatham, grey-headed, light-mantled, northern royal, southern royal, and shy (white-capped).

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LOBAL research highlighting danger zones for threatened species of albatross may yet help save these bewitching birds. Satellite tracking data for 19 species of albatross and petrel endangered by longline fishing, identifying the most important marine areas for albatross breeding, foraging and migration, has been collated by BirdLife International's Save the Albatross campaign. BirdLife International, a global alliance of national bird conservation groups, is present in more than 100 countries. Forest and Bird is the New Zealand Partner Designate. The new report, Tracking Ocean Wanderers, highlights areas where longline fishing fleets are putting seabirds most at-risk. As such, it is a unique collaboration between conservation groups and seabird scientists around the world, including New Zealand, and will help determine the action governments take to stop albatrosses and petrels becoming extinct. HRH The Prince of Wales, a keen advocate of the continuing campaign to protect the albatross, sent a letter of

support for the project. In his letter, Prince Charles says: "I simply refuse to accept that these remarkable birds should be allowed to slide quietly into extinction, and particularly not when the damage is entirely man-made and easily preventable." Commenting on the report, he continues: "It brings together real data for the first time to show us where these gravely threatened birds are roving the oceans, enabling us to identify where they are most vulnerable and to safeguard their critical habitat." Dr Cleo Small, international marine policy officer for BirdLife International, says that identifying areas where albatrosses and longline fishing overlap is a crucial conservation step. "To save these birds from extinction, governments, scientists and conservationists need to ensure seabird mortality is reduced or eliminated across all oceanic waters, regardless of jurisdiction." The report was published to coincide with the first meeting of parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), held

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in Hobart, Australia, in November. Key findings include: • Hot spots where concentrations of both longliners and seabirds occur including the waters around New Zealand, south-east Australia, the south-west Indian Ocean, the South Atlantic Ocean and the North Pacific Ocean. • The importance of coastal continental shelf foraging areas for albatrosses and petrels whilst breeding, and of highly productive oceanic regions including the subantarctic front, Humboldt current, Patagonian shelf, and Benguela current. • The differences in foraging areas used by breeding and non-breeding adult birds, and young and mature birds. Brooding albatrosses rely on foraging grounds closer to breeding sites and, as chicks grow, the foraging range of adult breeding birds extends. • The huge distances traveled on migration by some species; the New Zealand northern royal albatross flies up to 1,800 kilometres in 24 hours while grey-headed albatross, another New

Zealand breeding species, can circle the globe in 46 days. According to Forest and Bird senior researcher Barry Weeber, "This report is an important step in identifying hot spots where new management measures can be put in place to better protect albatrosses, including seasonal fisheries closures at the most critical times of year in core feeding areas, as well as the establishment of open-ocean marine reserves." More than 300,000 seabirds, including 100,000 albatrosses, die as bycatch at the hands of longline fishing fleets every year. The toll means 19 of the 21 albatross species are now officially classed as under global threat of extinction by BirdLife International and the IUCN (World Conservation Union) red list of globally threatened species. Longlines up to 130 kilometres, each carrying thousands of baited hooks, lure the birds, which are dragged under and drowned. Being slow-breeding species, albatrosses are being killed faster than they can repopulate. More info: www.birdlife.org F O R E S T & B I R D • M AY 2 0 0 5

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Attack of the giant claw. Haast's eagle hunted moa using talons the size of a tiger's claws.

A Yellow-eyed penguins are susceptible to a new disease.

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EW ZEALAND'S rare yellow-eyed penguins (hoiho) have been hit by a new disease that killed an estimated 60% of chicks in the worst affected areas of the South Island over the summer. Several hundred chicks died, including 200 found in nests on the Otago coast. A 30% chick mortality rate was recorded on Stewart Island with a lower level recorded on The Catlins coast. It appears the disease did not affect hoiho breeding at the subantarctic islands or Whenua Hou/Codfish Island. With a global population of just under 5,000 individual birds, this endangered species is considered the world's rarest penguin. The main threats to the species are introduced predators such as cats and stoats, habitat loss and degradation, and occasional population crashes (similar to this one) due to disease or food shortages. The Department of Conservation's Dave Houston says tests have been carried

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Hobbit-sized raptor became 'Lord of the Wings'

John Megahan

ROD MORRIS Š DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION/TE PAPA ATAWHAI

conservationbriefs Disease hits world's rarest penguin

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out at Massey University to try to pinpoint the extent and nature of the disease. Results show it was caused by corynebacterium amycolatum. Previously unknown in yelloweyed penguins, this bacterium is present in hospitals. "The latest die-off has been bad news for our rarest penguin species. Subpopulations on the south-east coast of the South Island and Stewart Island are in decline and this will only add to the pressures this endangered species already faces," said Forest and Bird senior researcher, Barry Weeber. Some accessible chicks on Otago Peninsula were given antibiotics to help fight the infection but Dave Houston says it is not viable to treat all chicks. He also reports that the chicks which survived had a relatively good survival rate subsequently. Nearby colonies of little blue penguins do not appear to have been affected.

LTHOUGH now extinct, Haast's eagle was once New Zealand's 'Lord of the Wings' with a wingspan of up to three metres. It was the largest eagle that ever lived; its talons were the size of tiger's claws. Being an ambush predator, the leopard is the modern terrestrial equivalent of Haast's eagle. It was also the only eagle species in the world to become the top predator in a major terrestrial ecosystem, in this case the South Island. It weighed up to 14kg and was 30% to 40% heavier than the largest eagle species alive today, the harpy eagle of South America. This means it was close to the upper weight limit at which powered flight is possible for birds. New research using DNA from fossil bones conducted by Dr Michael Bunce, a New Zealander at Oxford University, and a team including Dr Richard Holdaway, a palaeobiologist at the University of Canterbury, has shed new light on the evolution of Haast's eagle. It indicates that Haast's eagle was not related to Australia's large wedge-tailed eagle, as some had suspected, but to one of the world's smallest eagles, the little eagle, which ranges across Australia and New Guinea and weighs less than one kilogramme. They estimate that a common ancestor of both Haast's eagle

and little eagle lived less than a million years ago. It appears that Haast's eagle's ancestor evolved and increased its weight by 10 to 15 times over this period after reaching New Zealand from Australia. Dr Holdaway says the size of available prey and the lack of other large predators were the key factors that drove the size increase. "Haast's eagle hunted moa before they became extinct. They had broad three-metrespan wings and were adapted for flying under and amongst trees. They struck their prey from the side, gripping the flesh and pelvic bone with the talons of one foot, and then killed it with the talons of the other foot." Dr Holdaway says Haast's eagle became extinct within two centuries of human settlement of New Zealand, around 700 years ago. Forest fires destroyed its eastern South Island dry forest mosaic habitat and people killed off its main food, the moa species characteristic of that region. The new research was published in the scientific journal PLoS Biology and partly funded by the New Zealand Foundation for Research, Science and Technology. Sources: Ancient DNA Tells Story of Giant Eagle Evolution. PLoS Biol 3(1): e20. (2005); BBC News online: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/ tech/4138147.stm

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Michael Szabo

Broken kiwi bill grows back

The tip of this female great spotted kiwi's bill has partially regrown after it broke off in an accident.

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F A KIWI accidentally breaks off the tip of its bill the broken tip can repair itself, a scientist at Massey University has discovered. Veterinary scientist Brett Gartrell of the New Zealand Wildlife Health Centre has documented the partial regrowth of a broken bill tip in a female great spotted kiwi. Kiwi bills are the only long probing bills that have nostrils at the tip. A strawlike tube runs from each of two slits near the tip which connect to sense organs at the base of the bill. The bill tip is covered with a small bulb or 'ploughshare' which

protects the slits from clogging with soil during probing. The great spotted kiwi in question was brought in by DOC staff after it accidentally broke off the tip of its bill exactly in the centre of the slits during a transfer. The keratin bill tip is capable of growing back, at least partially, but only if the break occurs in front of the slits or forward of the centre of the slits. If the bill breaks further back or beyond the slits it does not appear to regrow. The kiwi is due to be released back into the wild at Rotoiti where its progress will be monitored.

Christopher Hepburn

Invasive kelp spreads to coastal Otago

Research funded by Forest and Bird shows invasive Undaria kelp is spreading along the Otago coast.

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HE INVASIVE kelp species Undaria pinnatifida is spreading from Otago Harbour to a host of native ecosystems on the surrounding open coast, according to new research funded by Forest and Bird's J.S. Watson Trust. Some of the more marked effects of this seaweed can be seen in the once diverse rock pools of the exposed shores north of Dunedin, where Undaria is replacing native assemblages of seaweeds and invertebrates with its solid brown canopy. Originally introduced into Otago

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Harbour via shipping in 1991, it has rapidly spread throughout the harbour. The current rate of spread is estimated to be at least two kilometres per year. This means the extensive native kelp forests north of Dunedin are now under threat. These changes are likely to have major implications for native seaweed, invertebrate and fish species by modifying food web structure and the refugia provided by multi-layered kelp communities. Monitoring strategies need to be implemented in regions where it has not reached so that small founding populations can be rapidly eradicated before reaching levels where control is difficult and expensive. The natural, economic, and cultural values of such places are much greater than the cost of employing a small team to carefully monitor and quickly respond to new infestations. It is important to retain the few remaining examples of the unique subtidal and intertidal ecosystems of southern New Zealand because they are important parts of our natural heritage and contain a number of species that are endemic or undescribed. Christopher Hepburn and Lisa Russell F O R E S T & B I R D • M AY 2 0 0 5

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Sue Maturin Otago Daily Times

Above: HRH The Prince of Wales meets Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society national president, Dr Gerry McSweeney, at Taiaroa Head visitor centre, 6th March. Left: Royal meets royal. Prince Charles at the Taiaroa Head royal albatross colony, accompanied by DOC head ranger, Lyndon Perryman.

Save the Albatross HRH The Prince of Wales visited the royal albatross colony at Taiaroa Head, Dunedin, in March. In his speech, Prince Charles made a passionate appeal for greater protection of the world's albatrosses and congratulated the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society for its Save the Albatross campaign.

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T WAS AN auspicious occasion when HRH The Prince of Wales visited Taiaroa Head near Dunedin in March. Not only did it provide an opportunity for Prince Charles to set out why he is so passionate about saving these majestic seabirds from the threat of extinction. His presence also ensured that media attention was focussed on the issue. After his speech he discussed albatross conservation issues with Society national president Dr Gerry McSweeney, executive members Prof Alan Mark and Dr Liz Slooten, conservation manager Kevin Hackwell and field officer Sue Maturin. During the conversation he expressed his deep personal disquiet about the perilous position of the albatross and frustration that simple effective measures to avoid seabird bycatch are not being used everywhere, including in New Zealand. His Taiaroa Head speech, reproduced here in full, spells out his concerns.

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IKE MANY other one-time mariners I have a very special affection for the albatross. I remember so well, while serving in the Royal Navy, standing on the deck of a fast-moving ship in one of the Southern oceans, watching an albatross maintaining perfect position alongside for hour after hour, and apparently day after day. It is a sight I will never forget. And only the other day there was further evidence of the mystery and majesty of these birds when a satellite-tagging research project proved what we have long suspected – that some quite literally circumnavigate the globe and the fastest does it in just forty-six days. I find it hard – no, impossible – to accept that these birds might one day be lost forever. Yet that does now seem to be a real possibility unless we, and others around the world, can make a sufficient fuss to prevent it. In 1996, three of the twenty-one species of albatross were officially listed as threatened. Four years later, when I sat down to write an article expressing my concerns about the decline of these magnificent birds, the total of threatened species had risen to sixteen. Another five years on, and nineteen of the twenty-one species of albatross are now under global threat of extinction with some species now numbering under one hundred individuals. The albatross family is now the biggest single bird family with every one of its members under threat Their plight should remind us of the ultimate fragility of all the migratory species – not least the swallows, swifts and house martins – that mark the great cycle of the seasons and the mysterious, inner unseen urge that compels such creatures

to follow, with unerring accuracy, the timeless patterns of movement around this globe. They are now dependent upon our whim – yes, our whim… I have always felt that if their wanderings should cease through man's insensitive hand and that magical moment of a swallow's first arrival (or an albatross's return) disrupted forever, then it would be as if one's heart had been torn out. If this were to happen – and we are rapidly approaching the very real possibility with all twenty-one species of albatross – then we would sacrifice any claim whatsoever to call ourselves civilized beings. We will have violated something profoundly sacred in the inner workings of nature, and our descendants will pay dearly for the consequences of this and other acts of short-term folly. But to return to the noble birds nesting here at Taiaroa Head. I don't need to tell this audience that the most potent force driving the members of the albatross family to extinction is longline fishing, which is estimated to kill one hundred thousand albatrosses every year. And even here in New Zealand, the albatross capital of the world where fourteen of the twenty-one species breed, it is estimated that around ten thousand albatrosses and petrels are killed in your waters each year. What makes this situation so particularly galling is that these deaths are completely avoidable. The technology is simple, inexpensive and very effective. What is required are bird scaring lines which keep birds away from hooks during line setting; line weighting to sink hooks more quickly making them inaccessible to birds; fishing at night when most seabirds are less active; and ensuring that offal from fish processing is not discharged while lines are fed out. From well regulated longline fisheries, careful monitoring has proved beyond any doubt w w w. f o r e s t a n d b i r d . o r g . n z


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We have polluted them, used them as dumps for every sort of waste, and exploited most of their fish stocks beyond the point at which they can maintain their numbers. Over 75 per cent of the world's fish stocks are now classified as either fully exploited, over-fished or in a fragile state of recovery. And yet, just as with the whole debate about climate change some twenty years ago, not enough people seem to want to listen. It is, quite literally, a case of "out of sight out of mind". But what on earth is the point of "running into a brick wall"

Craig Potton

that using the right combination of these measures reduces the seabird bycatch to virtually zero. This is not rocket science, just good basic fisheries management and these measures are already mandatory for vessels fishing in Antarctic waters under international agreement. But, as we have seen, these birds are enormously wide-ranging, encountering a succession of fleets and fisheries as they wander the oceans, so the real challenge is to make these solutions mandatory on every longline vessel, not just some. So the good news is that there are easy solutions. But it is frustrating, to say the least, that it is taking so long for them to be implemented worldwide. I know that under the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation countries are encouraged, voluntarily, to develop and put in place National Plans of Action for Seabirds which set targets and timetables for the reduction in albatross and petrel deaths. These have an important part to play, but this only deals with a country's own waters. But the threat to the albatross is a truly international problem demanding an international solution and that is why I have been doing what little I can to encourage countries to ratify the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels. I do particularly congratulate New Zealand and Australia for the leadership which they have given to the rest of the world. Ecuador, South Africa, Spain and the United Kingdom have all ratified, and only the other day Peru joined this list of countries determined to make a difference. The bad news is that the problem of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing appears to be worsening in many parts of the world, although there are encouraging signs of a reduction in parts of the Southern Ocean. It may well be that a few high profile chases and arrests of offending vessels may have contributed to this welcome improvement. There are believed to be hundreds of these substantial pirate vessels, typically operating under "flags of convenience", recognising no rules and – with few exceptions – evading every sort of sanction and penalty available under international law. It is estimated that they are responsible for about one third of the total albatross and petrel deaths each year. But that is not the total extent of the environmental havoc they are wreaking. They are denuding the oceans of many of our rarest fish, not least the Patagonian Toothfish, sold under "consumer-friendly" aliases, such as Chilean Sea Bass in the USA and Mero in Japan. But there is a more general point here, which is that our stewardship of the world's oceans has been truly appalling.

Buller's albatross

before we wake up to what we are doing and then find it is too late to replenish the stocks of particularly vulnerable species of fish? This is a subject which is occupying many minds in the United Kingdom and the European Union at the moment. An idea which is gaining ground there and in many parts of the world is "no-take zones" or "marine parks". I know from the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand that seasonal "no-take zones", while birds are feeding, are now being considered here. They would not only be crucial for the survival of the albatross and petrels, but they also have the potential to allow fish stocks to regenerate and provide natural reservoirs from which other areas of the ocean can be repopulated. There is so much more that I could say on this subject but I would just leave you with this one thought. To me, the albatross may be the ultimate test of whether or not,

as a species ourselves, we are serious about conservation: capable of co-existing on this planet with other species. None of the short cuts and quick fixes that might help some other species will help the albatross. Despite the remarkable work done here at Taiaroa Head, no nature reserve will ever be big enough to encompass more than a fraction of such a nomadic bird's total requirements. No single nation state can take much effective unilateral action, rather it calls for a major effort of international co-operation, and for the regional fisheries bodies to demand seabird-friendly fishing of all the vessels plying their waters. And there is not much time left. The clock is ticking fast and even if mortality from longlining were, somehow, to be stopped overnight, the rate of decline in the populations and the exceptionally slow rate at which albatross species breed are such that recovery would take many decades. As far as I am concerned, the plight of the albatross is a symbol of the emptiness of too much of the rhetoric surrounding so-called 'sustainable development'. Will it take the complete dodo-like disappearance of this noble, winged creature to bring us to our senses? Or are we to remain blind and deaf to the appalling tragedy unfolding, out of sight and out of mind, in the vast foam-flecked spaces of the Southern Ocean? Whatever the case, it would be a shameful travesty of our duty as stewards of this increasingly fragile globe if we couldn't find a way of living our lives in such a manner that these magnificent birds can continue to share the same planet with us. Incidentally, I find it incredible that we live in a world which is so comprehensively industrialised that we can allow the kind of intensive fishing methods that slaughter countless thousands of dolphins and porpoises, let alone all sorts of other species which have no means of escape, and that cause untold damage to fragile ecosystems on the floor of the oceans. Do you not feel the sheer unmentionable waste of it all to be so obscene? I shudder to think of the shattered world we will leave our children and grandchildren unless we moderate our insatiable appetite for the quick return and the quick fix. I can only commend the remarkable work being done here by the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand, who I know work closely with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in the UK and BirdLife International. You are a true beacon of hope and I do congratulate you on all that you are doing to secure the future of these iconic and magical birds. F O R E S T & B I R D • M AY 2 0 0 5

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Saving the

ARK

Every mast year, Department of Conservation staff fight a desperate rearguard action to save some of New Zealand's most threatened birds from hordes of hungry rats and stoats. Why, then, is it such a struggle to find the resources to do the job properly, asks Dave Hansford? Photographs by Rod Morris and Dave Hansford. The critically endangered orange-fronted parakeet population has collapsed in the past few years from over 800 individual birds to between 80 and 200. 16

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Rod Morris

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Dave Hansford/Origin Natural History Media

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DOC scientist Graeme Elliott climbs to check an orange-fronted parakeet nest in the Hawdon Valley, Arthur's Pass National Park. These hole nesting birds are acutely vulnerable to the rats and stoats which plague the beech forest during heavy seeding or 'mast' years.

exponential order. Rats eat most things, including parakeet eggs and chicks. Stoats don't eat beech seed, but they do eat rats, and the mice that also swarm after a mast year. They also eat native birds – not just eggs and chicks, but fullgrown adults. And that's a disaster. By December, there's a forest full of hungry rats, mice and stoats. The mice are probably hard on insects and plants, but for now, Elliott's not concerned with them. "There's nothing we can do about mice anyway."

But something has to be done about the rats and stoats, because any mast year soon, we could lose the orange-fronted parakeet forever. Elsewhere, in other beech ecosystems like The Catlins, the Eglinton Valley, and the Landsborough, the same thing is happening to more of our most threatened species such as whio (blue duck) and mohua (yellowhead). A weathertight housing, screwed into the beech trunk some metres up, betrays the presence of one of Elliott's study nests, a hollow den accessed by a small

Rod Morris

RAEME ELLIOTT opens a canvas bag and produces a nest of snakes, teasing it out until it reveals itself as a climbing harness, slings, leg loops, rope, fishing line (complete with lead sinker), string and a jangling array of climbing ironmongery; ascenders, descenders, karabiners. Then, like Dennis the Menace, he produces a slingshot from his back pocket, fits the sinker to it, and launches it unerringly over a high bough, the fishing line streaming behind like a spider's thread. After lowering the sinker to the ground, Elliott, a Department of Conservation (DOC) scientist, attaches the string, draws it back over the bough and back to his feet so that he can now attach the heavy climbing rope. Once that's tied to a suitable anchor, he clambers into the harness and clips in a bewildering assortment of paraphernalia before putting his feet into two rope loops. He draws himself straight, letting the ascenders lock on the rope before sitting back down and drawing up the slack. He looks like an inchworm on a thread as he hauls himself up the side of a statuesque red beech. We're in 'Parakeet Central', a fertile slip fan on the true right of the Hawdon River in Arthur's Pass National Park. About 50 metres square, it maybe holds the world's largest remaining concentration of endangered orangefronted parakeets, or 'karaka' kakariki. Some of the trees wear shiny anklets of stainless steel – slippery barriers to climbing predators – indicating that parakeets are nesting in a hole high above. Beech trees seed erratically. Some years, they don't seed at all. But in others – often after a particularly warm autumn – they procreate in spectacular abundance, carpeting the forest floor with seed. Such cornucopia are known as "masts", and their sustenance sparks another reproductive frenzy; birds like parakeets will breed right through winter, which means in effect that they can raise successive broods for nearly 18 months. That should be good news for a species with a total global population of between 80 and 200 birds. And it is, except that other creatures are tuned into the flush of a mast year too – creatures that should never have been turned loose here. Rats, which thrive on beech seed, can breed at three-weeks-old and produce eight young. That adds up to a plague in

Forest and Bird South Otago and Southland branches paid for stoat traps to help increase the coverage of Operation Ark in The Catlins from 2,000 to 7,000 hectares. To date, Forest and Bird has paid for a quarter of new trap stations to help better protect mohua (yellowhead) there. F O R E S T & B I R D • M AY 2 0 0 5

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Fifteen whio (blue duck) ducklings fledged this year in the Clinton, Arthur and Cleddau valleys after intensive predator trapping. Before Operation Ark, stoats killed every chick. The whio is one of only four species of torrent duck in the world. This family of whio were photographed in Fiordland.

entrance hole. An ordinary shop doorbell circuit aims an infrared beam across the entrance to a mirror. When a bird or unwelcome predator breaks the beam, it takes a self-portrait. This is Elliott's own design. You could buy the parts off the shelf, but the programme to save these birds, called Operation Ark, is running on the smell of an oily rag. In essence, Operation Ark is about DOC staff tramping up and down grid lines in the forest, setting predator traps and replenishing poison baits around populations of threatened birds, and doing it every day – rain, hail, shine, mud, swollen rivers, swarms of sandflies – until the young have safely flown the nest and the traps fall silent again. When the pressure's really on, they drop bait bags in between the traps and bait stations, which are a standard 50 metres apart. Timing is everything – an irruption can happen in months, so it's vital to get early warning of a mast. Dotted about the beech forest, seed collection traps are already set, waiting to sound the alarm. Once the seed begins to fall, staff begin checking track tunnels, keeping a watch on rat numbers. Once a pre-determined threshold is crossed, Operation Ark swings into action. Elliott thinks last season's trapping in the Hawdon may have been just a couple of weeks late in starting, and says the last few mohua here might have suffered as a result. 18

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PERATION ARK is conservation minister Chris Carter's response to a catastrophic mast in 2001, when perhaps 600 orange-fronted parakeets were lost right next door to here in the Hurunui Valley. "It was a real wake-up call for us," he says. "I had no idea that things had reached such a critical stage." He's still stinging from the loss, and the criticism that followed. "It became clear that the department lacked a rapid response programme to (masts). We had to work out a structure where we could respond rapidly with bait lines, permits for laying baits, resource consents from local councils etc… all of which take time." He ordered a counter-strike, asking DOC to identify places with key threatened species they thought might be vulnerable to mast irruptions. They came up with 11; all beech ecosystems populated by endangered species such as mohua, whio and orange-fronted parakeet. Forest and Bird conservation manager Kevin Hackwell says Operation Ark is a good programme, but he has a problem with the way it's funded. He says that in his haste, Carter over-reached. "Our understanding was that Chris announced it, but not having cleared it with Cabinet first, his colleagues said, 'Therefore, we assume you must be able to fund it from existing budgets'." Consequently, Ark had to be funded not with dedicated new money, but from

biodiversity funding already earmarked for other projects. In the end – and by deferring programmes like weed and pest control and taking from existing biodiversity projects – DOC scraped up $1.25 million which was sufficient to protect just five of the 11 sites identified; here in the Hawdon and the south branch of the Hurunui (orange-fronted parakeet), the Clinton, Arthur and Cleddau rivers of Fiordland (whio), The Catlins (mohua) and the Wangapeka and Fyfe Rivers (whio). Carter says that won't be happening again. He's chasing enough funding to protect all 11 sites, "I'm going to be arguing that greater resourcing be devoted towards the biodiversity fund, and I see Operation Ark as an important part of that," though with a budget looming, he won't talk precise figures. Kingsley Timpson is a DOC senior technical support officer who has to make Ark work, however much money he gets. He has geared any future response to a scenario where as many as four of the Ark sites experience a mast in any given year. "If we're wrong, and all 11 sites get hit, it would be very difficult for us to respond appropriately." Just a decade ago, nobody would seriously have expected masts in three years out of five. When working at DSIR's ecology division, Hackwell remembers they waited years for a decent mast to study, "We might have seen one good mast year in seven. Two in a decade was exceptional." w w w. f o r e s t a n d b i r d . o r g . n z


Since 1999, there have been three, and 2005 is shaping up as another. Some link masts to El Nino – Hackwell thinks they're yet another indication of climate change. "We're seeing some of the hottest years on record now; the forests are responding and the rodents are following suit." But while pest irruptions are on the increase, conservation core funding is flatlining and endangered forest species such as mohua continue to decline. "Up until now, DOC has been able to live within its means by creative accounting, such as selling logs from exotic forests inherited from the Forest Service. But last year, efforts to prevent a predicted $6 million blowout saw nine key science jobs lost in a restructuring of DOC's science and technical unit," says Hackwell. "There is a cash crisis in DOC at the moment," concedes Carter. "Salaries have been going up, and that's started to bite into operational stuff – it's something we're looking at and we'll be discussing with Dr. Cullen." (Although it's not something finance minister Michael Cullen is prepared to discuss with media just now given that he declined the author's request for an interview on the state of conservation funding). Treasury estimates that government spending on health for the 2004-2005 financial year will run to around $9.4 billion. DOC's core vote from the last budget was $295 million. Or to put it another way, the health ministry spends in under two weeks what DOC gets to spend in a year. w w w. f o r e s t a n d b i r d . o r g . n z

Hackwell is plainly frustrated. "There's a policy framework in place for dealing with biosecurity incursions, so that if we get another painted apple moth, there's an understanding that because it would be an emergency, MAF and others can spend beyond their budget – they can go into deficit and that will be dealt with later." "We say there ought to be a similar provision for biodiversity emergencies. There must be an ability to respond immediately." In the meantime, it's up to DOC's frontline staff to keep emptying the traps and filling the bait stations. But nobody's pretending they're winning, not even Carter; "The situation is much grimmer than I thought it was – we're barely holding the line." Elliott agrees. Apart from the plight of the parakeets, he's seen kea slowly vanish from Nelson Lakes, and kaka numbers everywhere fall. "And here we are messing around with these silly little traps." He longs for a silver bullet.

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n fact, scientists have been working hard on more ways to control stoats in a government-funded five-year research programme, and they're on the very brink of a breakthrough. Pen trials of a new stoat toxin, PAPP, were a qualified success, and all that remains is to test it in the field and get it registered, preferably for aerial use.

Rod Morris

Rod Morris

Beech forest canopy viewed from below. This is a habitat for native forest birds that attracts increased numbers of introduced predators during heavy mast fruiting years.

But Treasury money for the stoat programme has run out, and despite the fact that just $300,000 would see the PAPP project completed, bids for more money have so far come to naught. Meanwhile, other long-term stoat projects at Landcare and Otago University, seeded with DOC dollars, remain stalled until the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST) confirms whether or not it will continue funding them. FRST's Peter Burke says a decision will be made in May. DOC scientist Elaine Murphy headed the stoat programme. "I find it really dispiriting. It's not like we weren't making any progress. And now it's gone. Unless we want to be using poisons forever, we need to start investing in high-tech ways of killing things. Where's the commitment to see things through?" Timpson is also uncomfortably aware of the urgent need for more innovation in this area. At the moment, he relies heavily on brodifacoum – sold over the counter as Talon – to hold places like Parakeet Central against the hordes of rats. But he can only wield it with restraint, because tests have shown brodifacoum can persist in the livers of animals for years – a sobering side-effect that has manifested in kiwi chicks. If all else failed, Timpson says he would call in an aerial drop of 1080, but tests have shown it to be only a mediocre rat-killer and killing rats is what Ark is mostly about. F O R E S T & B I R D • M AY 2 0 0 5

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Dave Hansford/Origin Natural History Media Rod Morris

DOC ranger Dan Palmer loads a bait station in the Hawdon Valley, Arthur's Pass National Park. Along with colleagues he maintains thousands of stations and traps in a defensive ring around populations of the critically endangered orange-fronted parakeet.

Rod Morris

Silver beech forest, Westland, flanked by the Bealey Ranges. Mast years bring on a plague of rats and stoats that spell disaster for threatened forest birds.

A female stoat can determine the number of kits she will bear, depending on the availability of food. In a mast year, they go for broke and bear up to 14 young.

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"We badly need more tools in the toolbox," he says. Short on cash and ammunition, DOC staff have nevertheless won some big battles. Elliott's arboreal acrobatics have shown that parakeet breeding success is on the up – figures Carter says he'll use to fight for more money – while back down on the forest floor, rat numbers have been routinely knocked down to barely detectable levels. Timpson says the lessons learnt from Operation Ark will be a boost for other projects; monitoring and trapping techniques, data collection – it all goes into a central database for everyone's benefit. And pest control is also taking pressure off other species that live inside the Ark citadels, like kaka and short-tailed bats (pekapeka). Certainly the Hawdon is now chattering with fantails (piwakawaka), tui, brown creepers (pipipi) and robins (toutouwai), one of which is picking sandflies off my legs as we sit in the dappled shade of Parakeet Central. Rifleman (titipounamu) are swarming over the beech trunks. A budgie-like chatter from above interrupts our muted conversation. "That's the male," says Elliott. "He's calling her out to feed. In a minute, he'll land on that branch there." And duly he does. To the naked eye, it looks like every other kakariki parakeet I've seen, but looking through my binoculars reveals the point of difference; a splash of orange where bill meets feathers. He chatters softly until, in a sudden flutter of brilliant – nearly neon – green, the female is beside him. She's left her eggs, briefly, to accept his offering of food, and to join him for a quick forage in the forest. Timpson softly bids them safe passage. "They need it," offers Elliott. "They could be gone by Tuesday if we screw this up." Timpson and the rest of the Ark crew will keep them from harm for as long as the existing technology works, and the money holds out; but they're locked into a holding pattern. Hackwell is left in no doubt. "DOC needs more money to protect more Operation Ark sites in future." These parakeets are the lucky ones – those creatures unlucky enough to live outside an Operation Ark site or a mainland island or a kiwi sanctuary – in other words, over the vast remainder of the conservation estate – will keep going to hell in a handbasket until somebody wins them a better deal. Dave Hansford of Origin Natural History Media is a Wellington-based writer and photographer. w w w. f o r e s t a n d b i r d . o r g . n z


J.L. KENDRICK © DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION

Following HRH The Prince of Wales' recent heartfelt plea to Save the Albatross and better protect our oceans, Michael Szabo and Barry Weeber look at the importance of New Zealand's subantarctic seas for these majestic seabirds.

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F ALL the places visited by Captain Cook's Pacific expeditions in the 1700s, New Zealand's subantarctic islands and the seas that surround them are still relatively pristine. It is here above the vast southern plateau that currents from the Pacific and Antarctica meet, creating upwellings rich in nutrients. And it is this richness that is reflected in the abundance of albatrosses (toroa) and other seabirds. The wildlife species that breed at New Zealand's subantarctic islands – and often only here – are amongst the world's most spectacular. Eight species of albatross breed here including four that do so only in New Zealand: the southern royal, Buller's, Campbell and Antipodean. Of these the Campbell albatross breeds only at the Campbell Islands, and all but a handful of the world's Antipodean albatross breed at the Antipodes Islands. Four species of penguin breed here including three that are unique to New Zealand: the Snares crested, erect-crested

Brent Stephenson

Subantarctic seas O

and yellow-eyed (hoiho). One of these, the endangered yellow-eyed penguin, is the world's rarest. Three species of cormorant also breed only at these islands: the Auckland Island, Campbell Island and Bounty Island shags, the latter being the world's rarest. Our own New Zealand sea lion, which is the world's rarest, and one of the rarest great whales, the southern right, also breed here around the Auckland and Campbell islands.

Above: Satellite tracking of Buller's albatross conducted by Jean-Claude Stahl of Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand, and Paul Sagar of NIWA, shows these birds mostly feed over waters around the continental shelf area and in the Tasman Sea during the breeding season. Left: The aptly named erect-crested penguin breeds only at the Antipodes and Bounty islands in the subantarctic region.

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Tony Palliser/BirdLife International

White-capped albatrosses face-off with a pair of northern giant-petrels in a scrum for squid. Large seabirds such as these forage over vast distances.

Nearly a third of the 40 seabird species that breed here are unique to New Zealand, yet the subantarctic islands comprise less than 1% of the country's landmass. If New Zealand really is the seabird capital of the world, then it's the presence of so many breeding species here that help clinch the title. In all, 120 seabird and 24 marine mammal species occur in and around New Zealand's subantarctic seas. The marine mammals include a stellar array of leopard seals, hourglass dolphins, spectacled porpoises, orcas, humpback whales and blue whales. Of the 71 bird species on the IUCN (World Conservation Union) red list of globally threatened species that breed in New Zealand, 18 species or 25% breed at the subantarctic islands. Then there are the unique assemblages of marine fish, invertebrates and flora. Giant kelp forests grow around the Auckland and Campbell islands' coasts, towering up to 30 metres from the sea floor, forming dense floating canopies on the surface and extending hundreds of metres out from the rocky shore. Amongst marine invertebrates the Auckland Island spider crab occurs only at the Auckland and Campbell islands. Half all colonial invertebrate species and over 80% of sea cucumbers and sea slugs are also unique. 22

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New species of sponge are still being discovered. For example one was described from the Auckland Islands in 1999, while another undescribed species appears to be endemic. Researchers suspect species from the same genus may have important medicinal applications. There is also a high degree of diversity amongst fish species on the southern plateau, although much of the region has not been adequately surveyed, apparently. It is mainly the icefish or notothenids, including the Maori chief, and Patagonian toothfish which are considered more or less exclusive to the subantarctic, according to a recent report, "The marine ecosystem of New Zealand's subantarctic islands and their surrounding seas", compiled by John D. Booth of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA). According to the NIWA report, one study lists almost 190 fish species associated with seamounts in the New Zealand region, with average species richness tending to be higher in the south. Species associated with seamounts in this southern plateau region include longnose velvet dogfish, Plunket's shark, giant chamaera, hoki and orange roughy. Yet none of the seamounts on the Campbell plateau have been fully surveyed. If the richness of life amongst cold water coral forests on seamounts elsewhere is anything to go by, there could be even more unique species here.

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T IS THIS RICHNESS of marine life that seabirds and marine mammals depend on. The main food items for most seabird species are squid, fish and plankton. Some seabirds, including albatrosses, also scavenge dead marine mammals. Seabirds also feed in a surprising variety of ways, including catching food at the surface while flying, surface feeding while swimming, surface diving in pursuit of prey (sooty shearwaters dive as deep as 70 metres), plunge-diving, aerial piracy and by taking baits from longline hooks. Some albatross species forage for food above continental shelf and seamount upwellings of nutrient rich water. Others forage further out in deeper waters, sometimes close to the subantarctic and subtropical fronts. The distances travelled can be staggering with some species foraging over thousands of kilometres on a single trip during the breeding season. A satellite tracking study of breeding southern royal albatross from Campbell Island conducted by Christina Troup of www w .wf w o .rfeosrteas n t adnbd ibridr d. o . or rgg..n nz


Roger Grace

Female New Zealand sea lions breeding at the Auckland Islands have recently been satellite tracked foraging up to 188 km offshore and diving down to 600 metres.

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maximum depth of 160 metres. Tracking of this species is yet to be conducted at the subantarctic islands. Marine mammals also depend on a marine diet: seals and sea lions hunt penguins, fish and squid, dolphins hunt fish and squid, toothed whales hunt seals, dolphins, penguins, fish and squid, and baleen whales eat small fish, krill and plankton. As with seabirds, the foraging distances involved are impressive. Female New Zealand sea lions breeding at Enderby Island in the Auckland Islands have been satellite tracked foraging up to 188 km

BirdLife International

Lincoln University and others found that birds commuted directly to one or several main foraging sites. The most commonly used site was a continental shelf edge area south of the Snares Islands. Satellite tracking of breeding Campbell and grey-headed albatross from Campbell Island conducted by Susan Waugh and Paul Sagar of NIWA and others revealed these species rely heavily on juvenile southern blue whiting during time spent foraging over the continental shelf, while they mainly caught squid over deeper oceanic waters. Campbell albatrosses in the study spent 55% of their time on the Campbell plateau, making foraging trips of over 2,000 km, while the grey-headed albatrosses tracked spent 71% of their time foraging over the deep waters of the subantarctic front where squid made up over 90% of prey mass. Penguins can also forage a long way offshore. Initial results from new tracking research by Thomas Mattern at Otago University has revealed that male Snares crested penguins forage out to 200-300 km offshore during 9-21 day trips. Tracked females foraged out to 60 km on overnight trips during the early chick-rearing period with both sexes diving to a maximum depth of 120 metres. Yellow-eyed penguins have been tracked off Otago Peninsula by Peter Moore of DOC. He found they forage up to 60 km offshore and dive to a

Campbell Albatross Grey-headed Albatross -200 m -1000 m

offshore over the continental shelf and shelf edge, and diving to a maximum depth of 600 metres according to recent research conducted by Louise Chilvers of DOC. The subantarctic food web is relatively simple, so changes in the availability or abundance of some species potentially can have far-reaching effects. Given this remarkable variety of subantarctic marine wildlife, little wonder then that these islands and the seas around them to 12-nautical miles offshore were designated a World Heritage Area in 1998. This came after a campaign launched by Forest and Bird in 1991 for

A map of foraging trips made by Campbell and greyheaded albatross satellite tracked from Campbell Island. (Waugh et al, 1999)

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Roger Grace

The dusky dolphin is one of twenty-four spectacular species of marine mammal that inhabit New Zealand's subantarctic seas.

the subantarctic islands declared a World Heritage Area. This was, in turn, promoted by the New Zealand Conservation Authority and DOC. In addition, a 12-mile marine mammal sanctuary was established around the Auckland Islands in 1993 and a 12-mile marine reserve declared in 2002. However, the seas around the other four subantarctic island groups lack such additional marine protection.

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HE main at-sea threat to albatrosses and some other seabird species is commercial fishing. For example, NIWA's subantarctic marine ecosystem report says Antipodean albatross numbers have been severely affected by commercial fishing, particularly tuna longliners that bait their hooks with squid, the main prey group for this albatross.

Kim Westerskov

Snares crested penguins can dive down to 120 metres to feed.

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It also reports that the ling longline fishery is one of the main fisheries to catch seabirds, accounting for 37% of reported seabird captures in 2000-2001, mainly in the subantarctic. Among subantarctic breeders, the majority of dead birds returned for identification were Salvin's albatross (Bounty plateau), and grey petrel and white-chinned petrel (Campbell plateau). Over 2,000 globally threatened New Zealand sea lions have been killed as bycatch in hoki, squid, and scampi trawl nets since 1980. Globally threatened basking and porbeagle sharks have also been caught as bycatch in squid and hoki fisheries and large numbers of non-target fish species are caught in a variety of fisheries, including the ling longline fishery. There is also concern at the effect of overfishing on stocks such as hoki, squid and southern blue whiting, all of which are prey for species of albatross or marine mammal, and the effects of bottom trawling on seamounts. The fact that all but two of the world's 21 albatross species are now on the IUCN (World Conservation Union) red list of globally threatened species compared to a third of them, five years ago, speaks volumes. w w w. f o r e s t a n d b i r d . o r g . n z


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Tui de Roy

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Snares crested penguins forage out to 200-300 km offshore according to new tracking research by Thomas Mattern at Otago University.

New Zealand is a hot spot for cormorants. Amongst the 12 species that breed in the country, the Bounty Island shag stands out as it is now the rarest cormorant in the world.

a whole, would benefit forever. That would be true World Heritage status. It would also be in keeping with the views expressed by HRH The Prince of Wales in his recent speech. If we want to safeguard the albatross we will need to protect meaningful core areas of the marine environment they depend on around the New Zealand subantarctic region during the breeding season. If we can't do this here in New Zealand – the seabird capital of the world – where else will it be done? And what chance

BirdLife International

NE encouraging development that HRH The Prince of Wales referred to in his recent speech in Dunedin is the growing trend around the world to protect more of the marine habitats that seabirds and other marine wildlife depend on. Speaking about marine protected areas he commented: "They would not only be crucial for the survival of the albatross and petrels, but they also have the potential to allow fish stocks to regenerate and provide natural reservoirs from which other areas of the ocean can be repopulated." After all, what does it mean to Save the Albatross if the very marine habitat they depend on for survival is not protected and the main threat to them remains? With satellite tracking revealing where albatrosses and other marine species forage, we now need to go beyond protecting their breeding grounds on land and start protecting the core areas these species utilise in adjacent waters and beyond, above the continental shelf and around the subantarctic front. The government has implicitly acknowledged this in the new Marine Reserves Bill which allows for the designation of marine reserves out to the 200-mile limit. So if the governments that have ratified the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) – including New Zealand – want to safeguard albatrosses and the marine ecosystem they are a part of, the spawning and habitat needs of albatross prey species also need protection. That means protecting species like southern blue whiting and squid, and the habitats they depend on such as seamounts and continental shelf areas. It is for these reasons that marine reserves are needed around all five New Zealand subantarctic island groups, at least extending out beyond the 12-mile limit to include the continental shelf edge, seamounts in the vicinity of each island group, and a meaningful proportion of the known foraging ranges of the albatrosses, penguins and sea lions that breed there. In 1999 Canberra declared a marine park around subantarctic Macquarie Island, south of New Zealand, covering 16 million hectares. This extends from the coast of Macquarie out to 200 miles offshore and contains 5.8 million hectares where fishing and mineral activity are prohibited. This 'no-take' zone is eight times the size of all New Zealand's current 'no-take' marine reserves and nearly five times the area of Fiordland National Park. Most of all, these magnificent species and habitats, and the marine ecosystem as

will New Zealand's advocacy for greater protection for the albatross overseas have to convince others if we are not prepared to do this much at home? Michael Szabo is Forest and Bird's communications manager and Barry Weeber is the Society's senior researcher.

Reference: Booth, J. D. 2004: The marine ecosystem of New Zealand's subantarctic islands and their surrounding seas. NIWA, Wellington.

God save thee, ancient Mariner from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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Braided rivers, hidden treasures Morning glory: The Godley River in late winter 26

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Rod Morris

Brent Stephenson

Black grace. The black stilt is the world's rarest wading bird. Only 212 remain in the wild with a further 109 held in captivity. Mostly restricted to the Mackenzie Basin, DOC runs a programme to protect them with the support of local Forest and Bird branch members.

Braided rivers are home to a special group of wading birds that are, like kiwi and kakapo, unique to New Zealand. Now, as pressure grows for more hydroelectric schemes and irrigation, they face an uncertain future. Geoff Keey unravels some of the secrets of the South Island's braided rivers.

Craig Potton

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T IS AUGUST and the early morning air is dry and frosty. Thin ribbons of icy water flow over the blue-grey stony flats of the Godley River. Spring is yet to touch the ranges where winter snows reach almost to the valley floor from peaks that rise nearly 2,000 metres above. As they have for millennia, small wading birds arrive in this austere landscape from the large tidal harbours of northern New Zealand, their rightcurved bills adapted for turning the stones. Wrybill are returning to breed. The Godley River is the northernmost braided river flowing from Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. It rises in the terminal lakes of the Godley, Classen, Grey and Maud Glaciers and ends in Lake Tekapo. Fine silt formed by the scouring of glacier on rock is carried by the river, creating

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Rolling stone. The wrybill is the only bird in the world with a bill that curves sideways, an adaptation for turning stones. They nest on braided rivers in spring and summer before over-wintering on tidal harbours in the North Island.

Lake Tekapo's striking blue colour. Internationally, braided river systems are relatively rare, occurring only amongst a few ranges in the Americas and parts of the Himalayas and Iceland. New Zealand's braided riverbeds stand out because of the unique diversity of species they support. More than 40 species of water bird rely on them, including terns, gulls, shags and waders – four of which are globally threatened species. The critically endangered black stilt (kaki) is the world's rarest wading bird, the black-fronted tern (tara piroe) is endangered, and both the wrybill (ngutuparore) and black-billed gull (tarapunga) are vulnerable. Black-fronted terns arrive around the same time as the wrybills after wintering on the coast. They nest along braided river beds from the lowlands up 1,000 metres and more into the high country, making them one of the world's few alpine nesting terns. In addition to natural extremes of drought, flood, heat and cold, they must also contend with a range of human induced threats: habitat loss caused by water abstraction, water diversion and hydroelectric development; nest swamping by jet boats; direct damage caused by vehicles and gravel extraction; and predation by pets and pests. The spread of weed species such as crack willow and broom also provides cover for an array of introduced predators such as feral cats, ferrets, stoats, hedgehogs, rats and dogs. New research on the Wairau River in Marlborough last year is beginning to reveal just how serious these threats are becoming. During October and December 2004, Mike Bell of Wildlife Management

International Ltd monitored four blackfronted tern colonies on the Wairau for the Department of Conservation (DOC). The black-fronted tern has the dubious distinction of being the second rarest tern species in the world. It is in such serious decline that Forest and Bird has requested that BirdLife International reassess its threat status. The Wairau is one of its few remaining strongholds, with around 1,200 pairs out of an estimated total population of 5,000 to 8,000 birds. "We monitored the breeding success of four colonies and only 29 nests successfully fledged, producing a total of 35 chicks out of the 170 nests we studied. This was due to predation," Mike Bell says. "Two of the four colonies completely failed to produce chicks." Feral cats appear to have been the primary predator in the colonies surveyed, followed by black-backed gulls, although hedgehog and stoat sign reveal that they may also be a factor in the high level of black-fronted tern predation. Research on the Ohau River monitoring the survival of chicks has revealed as many as half don't survive more than two weeks after fledging. The situation on the Wairau may be particularly bad because many of the adults in the colonies studied are thought to be ageing. If they die without adequate numbers replacing them, then this important population could decline dramatically. The research on the Wairau backs up what is known about the decline of black-fronted terns. Counts at their winter feeding grounds in the 1990s revealed populations just a quarter of those seen F O R E S T & B I R D • M AY 2 0 0 5

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A river saved

Craig Potton

The Ahuriri River is an important stronghold for black-fronted tern, wrybill and black stilt. Protected by a Water Conservation Order, land surrounding the river's headwaters is now protected in the Ahuriri Conservation Park announced by conservation minister Chris Carter in March 2005.

a decade before. The Ashburton River population, which in the 1980s was the second largest, declined from over 750 birds in 1981 to less than 200 by 1990. These and other observations indicate the species may be in widespread decline. Another significant finding Mike Bell has made on the Wairau is that reduced flows are strongly linked with increased predation. "This shouldn't really be a surprise because lower river flows result in easier access for introduced predators like cats, but I think this may be the first time this has been documented."

DICK VEITCH © DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION

Black-fronted terns nest on braided rivers from the lowlands up to the alpine zone. Their strongholds are on the Wairau, Ashburton, Rangitata, Tekapo, Ahuriri, Ohau and Lower Waitaki rivers. A species in serious decline, counts at their wintering sites in the 1990s revealed populations that were a quarter the size of those in the early 1980s.

South Canterbury's Mackenzie Basin is home to New Zealand's largest grasshopper Brachapsis robustus (robust grasshopper). Numbering only a few hundred, this braided river grasshopper may be New Zealand's rarest. Farming, hydroelectric development and predation by pests are thought to have contributed to its decline.

R. SMITH © DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION

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This finding raises serious concerns about the proposals to take water from rivers for hydroelectric development and irrigation. Currently Trustpower has a proposal to divert water from the Wairau River for electricity generation. Mike Bell's research shows that would be bad news for black-fronted terns because it is likely to lead to increased predation. As Forest and Bird Top of the South field officer Debs Martin explains: "Black-fronted terns nest in a precarious environment, reliant upon their camouflage and isolation on weed-free

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islands surrounded by river braids to reduce the threat of chick predation. A hydro scheme on the Wairau would not only increase the likelihood of chick predation, but with reduced river levels may also expose nesting sites to other dangers such as 4WDs." "Such hydroelectric schemes would have major impacts on braided rivers. They expose islands, reduce natural flow variability, and create an environment where weeds flourish," she concludes. Trustpower's proposal is not the only worry. In 2004 the ministry of economic development released a list of 65 hydroelectric power projects it thought had a medium to high likelihood of being developed in the next 20 years. Fourteen of these would affect braided rivers. The black-fronted tern is not the only unique New Zealand braided river species in trouble. A 2001 survey of wrybill on their winter feeding grounds revealed a 20% drop in the population from around 5,000 to 4,100 birds over seven years. The black-billed gull is also thought to be declining; six rivers in the Upper Waitaki catchment have lost their breeding colonies since the 1960s. BirdLife International recently proposed the threat status for this species be upgraded from vulnerable to endangered.

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reshwater fish appear to be doing better. The main stems of braided rivers lack many of the native fish species that occur in other types of rivers because many species do not cope well with the instability of braided rivers. Some, including torrent fish and bluegilled bully, are well adapted to life here. Torrent fish have wide fins that help them attach to stones amongst flows that might otherwise wash them downstream. Like w w w. f o r e s t a n d b i r d . o r g . n z


A river lost

Craig Potton

The Tekapo River has been diverted into a canal for hydroelectricity generation and no longer flows except when excess water is spilled back into the riverbed. A draft resource management plan for the Waitaki Catchment would return some water back to this river, but is being challenged by the generating company, Meridian Energy.

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This threat is becoming more real. As part of its "Sustainable Water Programme of Action" the government recently identified waters it deemed to be of national importance for irrigation and hydroelectric development. Its proposed changes to the Resource Management Act are also aimed at making it easier to develop new infrastructure proposals in the face of public opposition. There is now real concern amongst conservationists, recreationalists and iwi that this is a precursor to renewed infrastructure development that will wreck

more of New Zealand's river ecosystems. If so, it will drive more of our unique bird species such as the black-fronted tern, wrybill and black stilt ever closer to extinction. Vigilance will be needed if New Zealand's magnificent braided rivers are to remain intact. That, together with more energy efficiency from us all.

Geoff Keey is the Forest and Bird staff member responsible for biosecurity and pest control issues.

Rod Morris

Unique to New Zealand, torrent fish are freshwater relatives of blue cod. Males live in the lower reaches of rivers while females live in the upper reaches, but no-one knows when they spawn or migrate. They grow up to 20 cm long, but because they live in the fastest riffles, few people ever see one.

Like torrent fish, the bluegilled bully is unique to New Zealand and lives in swift flowing, broken rapids. Little is known about their life history except that they spawn in spring and their 3 mm long larvae go to sea. They return several months later when around 20 mm long and are sometimes caught amongst whitebait where they are known as whale feed or Dan Doolin spawn.

Rod Morris

braided river birds, they are adapted to a difficult existence in an unstable world. Other native fish are adapted to the diverse habitats associated with braided rivers; slow flowing tussock sheltered streams, subalpine lakes and coastal estuaries. Several galaxias species occur in South Island braided river systems, although few cope well with the main stems of rivers. Canterbury galaxias are generally found in cobbley headwater streams. Koaro, for example, are found in tussock streams that drain into high elevation lakes that feed the braided rivers. One of New Zealand's leading freshwater biologists, Dr Bob McDowall, works for the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and has a passion for freshwater fish. One of Dr McDowall's main concerns is the threat posed by dams on the main stems of braided rivers. "Take the Rangitata. Damming the main stem at the gorge would obliterate the extensive marginal streams which are the places where you find long-jawed galaxias and alpine galaxias." He also warns it is important to retain connectivity so fish can migrate along rivers and between freshwater and the sea. Stokell's smelt, a small fish that whiffs of cucumber, spends most of its life at sea, only returning to the lower reaches of the Rangitata, Rakaia, Ashburton and Waitaki rivers to spawn in massive shoals. Relying as they do on connectivity between the sea and their estuarine spawning grounds, excessive abstraction poses a threat to them because river mouths can close if too much water is taken. Dr McDowall warns, "New Zealand is at a crisis crossroads. There is a huge head of pressure for greater exploitation of natural resources."

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29


Captain Kermadec's avian isles

Craig Potton

The Kermadec Islands are being considered for New Zealand's World Heritage Area candidate list. Brent Stephenson paid a visit and found a forest world of sublime seabirds. Photographs by Brent Stephenson.

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Raoul Island F O R E S T & B I R D • M AY 2 0 0 5

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LIDING into the calm of Denham Bay, the mistshrouded peaks of Raoul Island prompted thoughts of Jurassic Park. The lush, almost subtropical vegetation suggested that prehistoric creatures might still lurk here although there were no pterodactyls to be seen

wheeling around the volcanic crags. Which stands to reason. Being part of the Pacific 'ring of fire' and a mere two-million-years-old, the Kermadecs have never been connected to mainland New Zealand and so never harboured dinosaurs, winged or otherwise. Instead of pterosaurs, the islands are home to their own fantastic assortment of winged wonders from tropicbirds and boobies to parakeets and tuis. The 1,000 km voyage from Tauranga to the Kermadecs had already whetted my appetite with sightings of sei whales surfacing nearby, bottlenose dolphins leaping alongside, and the awesome spectacle of breaching humpback whales. Arriving at Raoul Island as part of a scientific expedition was the fulfilment of a long-held ambition to visit the forested volcanic islands and underwater marvels of the Kermadecs. Like the other scientists and divers aboard MV Southern Salvor, I was eager to get started with the seabird and dive surveys planned, in my case a survey of Haszard Islet, a tiny six hectare stack east of Macauley Island, along with veteran DOC seabird scientist Mike Imber. Haszard is suggested to be the main – if not only – breeding site of the diminutive Kermadec storm-petrel, one of New Zealand's least known birds. While w w w. f o r e s t a n d b i r d . o r g . n z

Brent Stephenson

White-capped noddy


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Brent Stephenson

there we hoped to collect blood samples and measurements to help determine its relationship with other populations of white-faced storm-petrel (takahikaremoana), of which it is a subspecies. One of early New Zealand's foremost naturalists, Thomas Cheeseman, suggested these elusive birds bred on "Meyer Island and other outlying rocks". Apart from a handful of sightings at sea and even fewer birds captured, precious little is known about how many there are, when they breed, or how widely they range at sea. At best, there are perhaps 100 pairs. Initially the weather turned against us so hopes of capturing a few birds were dashed by the continuing easterlies that made it impossible to land on Haszard. Then, unexpectedly, a few days later, Mike appeared below deck one night furtively holding something small cupped in his hands, saying, "Guess what I've got". It was the first of three tiny black and white Kermadec storm-petrels that came aboard that night, attracted by our lights while we anchored off the Meyers. At this point I should admit that I've got a thing about these tiny seabirds, affectionately known as 'stormies'. Back in 2003 I photographed the New Zealand storm-petrel off Coromandel Peninsula, the first sighting of the species in over

Veteran DOC scientist Mike Imber with one of the Kermadec 'stormies' in the hand. Vigilance and a lifetime of experience allowed him to find this rare bird at the Karmadecs, against the odds.

Brent Stephenson

Brent Stephenson

The elegant sooty tern is the largest of the tropical terns that breed at the Kermadec Islands.

A pair of Kermadec petrels, one dark and the other light, nest on the ground as many more seabird species once did all over the New Zealand mainland before the arrival of introduced predators. F O R E S T & B I R D • M AY 2 0 0 5

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Brent Stephenson

Brent Stephenson Brent Stephenson

A Kermadec petrel climbs a tree to launch itself.

Brent Stephenson

Kermadec kakariki, a subspecies of red-crowned parakeet unique to these islands.

Kermadec pohutakawa.

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Brent Stephenson used a Canon 20D digital camera with 300 mm lens to take this family portrait of white-capped noddies in their coastal forest nest.

a century. So I was rapt at the prospect of taking photographs of a Kermadec 'stormie' close up. It is hoped that the blood samples we took will help get us closer to finding out if these elusive Kermadec birds are a separate species, or not. Dr Bruce Robertson at Canterbury University, and I are studying the genetics of New Zealand's storm-petrels and expect to have some preliminary findings by the end of the year. Whatever the outcome, it confirmed for me once again that New Zealand really is the 'seabird capital of the world'. Yet, we still have only a limited understanding of the biology of many of New Zealand's seabirds. Fourteen species breed here, where they provide an important link between land and sea. Two are subspecies that breed only at the Kermadecs – the storm-petrel and the Kermadec little shearwater. For a further eleven, including Kermadec petrel, sooty tern and white-capped noddy, this is the only place they breed in New Zealand. Except for the few pairs that nest on Norfolk Island in Australia, the entire breeding population of the globally threatened white-necked petrel is found at the Kermadecs. It was a rare privilege to peer through my binoculars and see Kermadec petrels nesting on the ground and clambering up trees to launch themselves into the

air. Calling white-capped noddies flew in through the trees to feed their chicks at the nest amongst coastal pohutakawa, while pairs of courting Kermadec and blackwinged petrels noisily wheeled about over the forest canopy. I couldn't help thinking this is how it would have been on the coasts and peaks of the New Zealand mainland until the arrival of people and the mammalian predators they brought with them. Seeing so many seabirds here raises my hopes that one day we'll see more seabirds able to return to the mainland sites they used before the arrival of introduced predators.

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HE KERMADEC ISLANDS lie halfway between the North Island and Tonga, and were named after Huon Kermadec, a French sea captain, in 1793. They consist of four volcanic island groups that stretch in a generally northsouth orientation for around 250 km. Raoul, the largest island, lies to the north, and L'Esperance Rock, the smallest, lies to the south. The isolated nature of the islands means that plants have generally arrived here carried on the wind, ocean currents, and birds, forming a curious blend, even by New Zealand standards. Some have evolved into unique species, such as the Kermadec nikau and ngaio, and the Kermadec w w w. f o r e s t a n d b i r d . o r g . n z


pohutukawa, well known these days as the attractive 'garden variety'. Taro and karaka also grow, a sign of Polynesian influence. Despite their relative isolation, the Kermadecs have not escaped the ravages of introduced species such as goats, cats, rats and invasive plants. Thousands of goats were removed from Macauley and Raoul in the 1970s and 80s. More recently cats and two rat species were eradicated from Raoul, with the island declared rat-free in 2004. This leaves the Polynesian rat or kiore on Macauley, with its eradication planned in the near future. The control of invasive weeds, particularly on Raoul, is also a constant battle but DOC efforts appear to be paying off. All the islands are protected as nature reserves with most gazetted in 1934. Landing permits are required from DOC but are only granted for conservation work. Visitor permits for Raoul can be applied for. In the 1980s Forest and Bird campaigned for the establishment of a Kermadec Islands Marine Reserve. Gazetted in 1990, it is New Zealand's largest marine reserve comprising three separate areas: one surrounding Raoul Island, another Macauley, Curtis and Cheeseman islands, and a third around L'Esperance Rock. It extends out to 12 nautical miles around each island, and protects a total w w w. f o r e s t a n d b i r d . o r g . n z

Brent Stephenson

area of 7,450 square kilometres, or four times the size of Stewart Island. With much of the islands' birds depending on the surrounding marine environment for sustenance, the protection of the reserve also benefits a range of species and habitats on the land, not least because of the nutrients all those millions of seabirds deposit there when they breed. The land birds of the Kermadecs are, perhaps not surprisingly, rather limited due mainly to the islands' age and isolation. There are six native species including Kermadec subspecies of redcrowned parakeet (kakariki) and tui. A pigeon resembling the New Zealand pigeon (kereru) became extinct before a specimen was collected, probably as a result of cat and rat predation. This is not the whole picture, though. With water temperatures on average 4°C warmer than coastal Northland, a unique marine ecosystem has also evolved here. The Kermadec trench is one of the deepest places on the planet, extending down to 10,000 metres in places. Lying between the tropics and the temperate zone means there is also a high degree of endemism. Reef-building corals and fine mats of turf-like algae replace the coastal kelp forests of mainland New Zealand here. Endemic species such as the Kermadec scalyfin and the giant Kermadec limpet are abundant. These and the other species

Brent Stephenson

Almost the entire world population of the white-necked petrel breed in burrows at Macauley Island in the Kermadecs.

A sooty tern in breeding plumage prospects for a nesting site over one of the islands. F O R E S T & B I R D • M AY 2 0 0 5

33


Malcolm Francis

Malcolm Francis

An eye for detail. The first specimen of Abbott's moray for the Kermadecs was collected by the author during the expedition.

Black coral trees are so named because the internal skeletal structure is black. They can reach two metres in height and form a microsystem where fish and other small marine creatures make their home and feed off debris. They are also protected species.

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present seem to have more in common with Norfolk or Lord Howe islands than the New Zealand mainland. Almost all the 146 coastal fish species present on Kermadec reefs are tropical or sub-tropical with the remaining 12% being temperate. Of these around 5% are endemic, such as the Kermadec demoiselle, although the level is higher amongst other groups – 19% of mollusc species, for example. According to Malcolm Francis, a scientist with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) who was on the trip in a personal capacity, the Kermadecs support the world's last unfished population of spotted black grouper. "These gentle giants which grow up to 1.5 metres long are insatiably curious and will investigate divers closely, sometimes nudging them or tugging on their fins to see what they are up to. The grouper and other large fish such as kingfish are tame and easily approached, something not usually possible in places where fishing is allowed." I also spent a week diving at the Meyer Islands north-east of Raoul and the relatively unstudied area of Denham Bay helping Andrew Stewart, collection manager of fishes at Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand, collect for the museum. After one dive he was excited to find what I thought was a fairly ordinary small 4-5cm orange fish in my collecting bag. It turned out to be a previously unknown species of brotula, a fish that looks like a cross between an eel and a cod. Not only w w w. f o r e s t a n d b i r d . o r g . n z


was it new to New Zealand, but it turned out to be new to science. It's since been dubbed the persimmon brotula. By the end of the expedition a handful of these fish had been found, which just goes to show there are still new species to be discovered beneath the waves in this idyllic corner of New Zealand. I also collected the first specimen of Abbott's moray for the Kermadecs, a beautiful long dark fish with light spots that gradually fade and invert to a light background flecked with dark spots. Visiting these islands it is easy to see why DOC has suggested the Kermadecs for New Zealand's World Heritage Area candidate list, based both on their outstanding natural values and the cultural values associated with early Polynesian use of the islands. Forest and Bird agrees, having first proposed the same in 1991. As senior researcher Barry Weeber points out: "Given the range of threatened and unique species that occur here, the existence of a marine reserve, and the World Heritage Area status of the subantarctic islands, the reasons for declaring the Kermadec Islands a World Heritage Area – on land and at sea – are compelling." Brent Stephenson is an ecologist and photographer who jointly runs Wrybill Birding Tours. In 2004 he sailed from New Zealand to the Falkland Islands on board English Rose VI as a volunteer with John and Marie-Christine Ridgway to draw attention to the plight of the albatross. w w w. f o r e s t a n d b i r d . o r g . n z

Malcolm Francis

Roger Grace

Gentle giant. A spotted black grouper comes face to face with a diver at the Kermadecs where the last unfished population of these stately reef fish in the world is found. They can live for one hundred years and change sex from female to male halfway through their lifespan.

This vibrant pink gorgonia or sea fan adds a splash of colour to the reef. The fan extends into the current where living polyps feed on plankton. F O R E S T & B I R D • M AY 2 0 0 5

35


Itinerant Ecologist – Geoff Park

Forests, teeming with birds

Image courtesy of Don Binney and Auckland University Press.

This is the first in a regular series written for Forest & Bird by Geoff Park, author of Nga Uruora: the Groves of Life. History and Ecology in a New Zealand landscape. The series title derives from the late Maurice Shadbolt's The Lovelock Version, a saga of settler endeavour which ends with the forest returning to the farmed clearings, and the valley left, "to legend... and the itinerant ecologist." The pieces are an intertwining of ecology and history expressed through encounters with places, ecosystems and their conservation and restoration. The series will have a home-and-away structure. One strand will be about the places, landscapes, ecosystems and ecologies he encounters in his work as an ecologist, in landscape history and restoration. The other will centre on the forests of his home-place. The structure reflects the way we experience and regard wild nature in two different ways in New Zealand; through visits to places that have been protected separate from human life such as reserves and national parks, and by having nature as neighbourhood, its trees and birds as co-inhabitors.

The first in a series etc

Don Binney, Lower Kauri Track, 1966

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F

ROM the Volcano, everything drops away. We're not quite above the gulls' soars and sighs, but the sea's roar and the through-treesrustle of the wind off it, like the waterfall's murmur, have to ascend to reach us. Wheezing like summiters, we're lying back among the coastal celmisias admiring their having found this opening in the woodedness, and the other botanical signs that The Volcano – as John Edgar calls the ancient lava-plug he sees each day from his kauri knoll – has long been a place without trees. A coigne, poking out of "the far-spreading forest", Elsdon Best might have called it a century ago. A lookout. Kept open perhaps, I'm thinking, when way below, a whoosh of wings, and at the very edge of my vision, a flash of white in the gingery-green of the gorge's taraire. Kereru, kukupa. There was something "look at me" about the way it let us settle on the summit before accelerating up towards us. Flicking sweat out of my eyes, I reach for my binocs. "Sometimes it's just like a Binney painting … seeing kereru through these," I say to John, locking lens on the hurtling barrel of white. Indeed, a matter on which Don Binney is quite candid is of the particular scale of the birds in his paintings, relative to the land beyond them, having its genesis in his learning to watch birds, through binoculars. And much of the watching and painting was along this wild, west, Waitakere coast. Seconds later, the kereru seemed to stall; in anticipation, it was immediately evident, of an updraft it obviously knew better than us. Or better than me. John, no less evidently, knew that somewhere thereabouts, the bird I'd been following out of the trees would suddenly rise, barrel skywards, then, at the peak of the uplift, open its wings and glide down barely moving them. He didn't say we'd seen nothing, but he did describe what we might, were I there in late-summer, when the wind was blowing in across Whatipu's sandspit, and the valley below us moved with young kereru attracted to the updrafts created by the big ridge of puriri and kauri rickers between the sandspit and his place. It's in those moments that you sense how birdy Perrine Moncrieff 's "avian paradise" must have been before rats, w w w. f o r e s t a n d b i r d . o r g . n z


w w w. f o r e s t a n d b i r d . o r g . n z

habit which this bird indulges in." Where stopbanks have separated the floodplain from its water, the grid of farmlands has replaced Kaipara's silt forests' grand sinuosities. But it's such champagne country that, well beyond the reach of river, there's so little surrounding land not captured by agriculture, that Pamaki's forest's whenua has a static, almost caged feel. Not quite though. Early this year, we camped for a few Kaipara days under historic magnolias and araucarias on a Pahi River headland, beside a rather wonderful forest. Surrounded by flounder on three sides, and paddocks on the other, it was covenanted with the National Trust 20 years and fenced off. It has none of Kaipara's ancient taraire and puriri. Its oldest trees, and only spreading ones, are kanuka whose canopies, once stock shelter, are fast going under mast thickets of tanekaha and totara. Below them though, everywhere I looked, myriad young taraire, puriri, tawa and nikau; a new forest making its return.

Kereru's wings more often give cadence to the forest's music

Someone who'd seen more than a few covenanted forests recuperating from grazing told Ted, the owner, they'd never seen such vigorous regeneration. I could believe him. Beneath one of the larger totara roost-trees, I recognized seedlings of 15 kereru-dispersed forest trees, among them miro, kereru's favourite species, but whose nearest source tree must be many kilometres away. For most of my life now, I've been seeing forests through the lenses and stethoscopes of ecology. But where the signs of ecosystem collapse once pervaded, I'm more and more seeing spoor of repair. And time and again it's kereru's. Their wings don't whup across the country with anywhere near the clamour the firstcomers heard. But courtesy the urge of our times – to which so many Forest and Birders bear witness – to stem the cascade of collapse and loss, and restore the ecosystems we've so grievously damaged, more wild forests are protected and predator-trapped than just a decade ago, and kereru's wings more often give cadence to the forest's music. "Never again …", Elsdon Best ended his great Forest Lore of the Maori, "will the Maori … look upon the wheeling myriads of birds … or listen to the melodious clamour of the maara o Tane." For a century since he heard "a past generation of the Maori folk regret the passing of the forest and its teeming birdlife" it has seemed he was right. But there are times these days when I'm not so sure.

Brian Enting

guns and farms. And in the more fecund and fruitful country like this wooded stretch of Waitakere's coast, what human living amongst such life might have been. Perhaps that's the landscape memory preserved in its tangata whenua, Kawerau a Mahi's, old names – Waimanu, Waikereru – for its waterways. It's not something there's much written down about. We have to sense what might have been. As we do the "all-pervasive, inescapable truth" that Don Binney senses whenever he's in a native forest; the "preceding reverence," as he has called it, of those for whom some forests were indeed nga uruora – "the groves of life". Balletic grace, the soaring spectacular mightn't have, but there's an indubitable vitality, verve for life about it. And it's a feature of this wild, wooded coast for which John has great regard, that, were it not occurring, he'd know its wildness to be ailing. Like his pointing out the trees in which the local kereru nest, his sensing they're about to soar is one of those intimacies of place that's possible only with inhabitation. Something the visitor might encounter by perchance, but most likely, never know a thing of. Like Don Binney's, it's an artist's regard. On one level, Binney's kereru-overWaitakere-forest paintings are just that. On another though, they depict life whose whole existence he knows is "reciprocal to a delicate and specialised forest ecosystem." An existence that both artists have fought to protect against the creep of the tide of roofs through the Waitakeres. A season later, and a shift-of-country north to the tidal sweep of Kaipara, I saw an identical early-morning performance out of another taraire grove – and from another volcanic plug's summit: the spectacular sky-poking Tokatoka, or Matua Wahine, more properly – "mother of the surrounding land" – as one of the first Europeans to savour Kaipara was told. Beyond the morning reverie, I could see right over to where, in 1832, Joel Polack saw "the almost impervious forest of Pamaki" sprawling down from Waipoua and across the plains of tidal rivers. He was struck by its "splendid kauri, kahikatea, puriri, totara, rata, rimu." But even more so by the sheer birdiness of the forest through which "the kukupa, or wild pigeon, flocked in numbers … easily distinguished by their whistling note and the ruffling noise of their wings." A decade later, up the northern Wairoa reach of the great forest, a young mission-station boy, Walter Buller, was first seeing the things to which he'd one day put words in his famous History of the Birds of New Zealand. Not least, in his entry on the New Zealand Pigeon: "the peculiar soaring

F O R E S T & B I R D • M AY 2 0 0 5

37


Giants of Gondwana

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t's a stretch to believe for those of us raised on "slugs and snails and puppy dog's tails", but snails around your house really can increase your property's value. Not just any old snails, mind. Real estate ads for Canaan Downs on Takaka Hill feature the genuinely ancient land snails of Gondwana, the giant Powelliphanta. These extraordinary snails, along with the ancestors of the tuatara and native frogs, originated over 80 million years ago. It was the inundation of New Zealand's landmass 20 million years ago, and then the glaciation of the Pleistocene period during the last 1.6 million years that led to the isolation and evolution of giant land snails as we know them today. Some of the 24 species and 51 subspecies of Powelliphanta snails are relative giants – at 90 grammes, the gold-

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shelled P. superba prouseorum weighs as much as a tui and measures a robust 90 centimetres in girth. Most Powelliphanta have glossy shells, burnished with shades of red, terracotta, gold and lacquered black. Their delicacy of marking and colouration made them collectors' items until the taking of shells was outlawed in 1982, and puts them at risk of poaching still. Although they are found from East Cape to Fiordland, because of their specialised habitat niches, complicated biogeographical history and sedentary nature, Powelliphanta snails are naturally confined to small, extremely localised areas. They have developed an impressive variety within the genus: amongst the known species there are many distinctive populations, each one isolated on a mountain top or across a river, continuing the process of gradual speciation. Conservation scientist Kath Walker was a sixth-former on a school tramp in the Nelson area when she saw her first giant snail, the impressive P. hochstetteri hochstetteri. Later, while working for the DSIR's ecology division, she and her partner Graeme Elliott started directing their recreational tramping trips into areas where snails were thought to still lurk. Interest grew into a systematic survey for the DSIR to map the range of each species and assess their conservation status. Kath subsequently undertook intensive research

on Powelliphanta while working for the Wildlife Service and the Department of Conservation (DOC) and has discovered a number of new species during her 25 year involvement with the genus. "From the moment I saw that first

Graeme Elliott

Like moa and weta, some land snails evolved into giants and became jewels in the crown of the Gondwana landscape. Stephanie Mills meets Kath Walker and discovers the fascinating world of the Powelliphanta.

Conservation scientist Kath Walker. w w w. f o r e s t a n d b i r d . o r g . n z


Left: Powelliphanta lignaria lusca. In Gondwanaland, large flightless invertebrates took the ecological niche that small mammals occupy elsewhere in the world.

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OST of the larger Powelliphanta snails were described in the 1930s and '40s by A.W.B. Powell, during his long and distinguished career as Auckland Museum's conchologist and palaeontologist, and later assistant director. Between 1970 and 1999, a further 20 taxa were discovered in remote corners of mountainous country, mostly snails with relatively small shells but also several large-shelled species. In the absence of a dedicated taxonomist such as Dr Powell, most of the new taxa have still to be formally described, and are currently referred to by tag names.

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Some species of giant land snail inhabit lowland forest, some montane forest, with the remainder living just at or above the bush-line in alpine tussock and scrub. They need a moist environment, so to conserve water they are largely nocturnal, and in dry conditions they cease to feed or move. Some of the alpine species may spend up to five months a year under snow. Like kiwi and tuatara, Powelliphanta are slow-growing. The average life-span seems to be 12 – 15 years. They don't breed until five or six years and usually lay between four and ten hard limey eggs each spring. While Powell noted declining numbers of snails on the Horowhenua Plains in the 1940s as their lowland forest habitat was logged, drained and turned into farmland, there were still a number of healthy populations. However, by the late 1970s, large numbers of empty, damaged shells were conspicuous through the ranges of many giant snails, and researchers found only small numbers of live snails. By 2000, even broken shells were seen infrequently, and in places declines in shell numbers of 50-90% were noted, with extremely low densities of live snails. While giant snails have one important native predator – weka – it was 19th and 20th century habitat destruction and the introduction of possums, pigs, thrushes, rats, and hedgehogs that has been devastating. Research shows possums only began eating giant snails in the 1970s, but this learnt behaviour has spread. An individual possum can eat 60 adult Powelliphanta over one or two nights, and possums now occupy all giant snail habitats.

To grapple with this, DOC compiled a Powelliphanta recovery plan with a vision of restoring representative populations of each of the Powelliphanta taxa to an "ecologically viable and humanly visible size" by 2023. The plan lists critical actions for safeguarding their future, including long-term legal protection of snail habitat, more accurate data on population trends, Mother of pearl. Powelliphanta hochstetteri hochstetteri with shelled eggs, Takaka Hill.

Rod Morris

shell 30 years ago I thought they were just fantastic. To be able to find a large, spectacular, absolutely new species in an odd corner of New Zealand is a privilege in this day and age. Even in popular well-visited areas like the Heaphy Valley you can find yourself in the centre of an amazing diversity of land snails if you just step off the track." She says there are still some poorly surveyed areas so it's possible a few more new Powelliphanta species may yet turn up. "These new discoveries have never received as much attention as the rediscovery of the takahe, the taiko, or even the tusked weta, which is a pity as we have something really special in New Zealand in these striking land snails." Unlike most snails, Powelliphanta are carnivourous – they eat earthworms and slugs – and have unusual reproductive behaviour. They are hermaphrodites containing the structures of both males and females, and lay hard-shelled eggs, from the side of their head or their foot. For Kath Walker, however, their greatest fascination lies not so much in what they do, as what they tell us about the biogeography of New Zealand. "They spend such long periods digesting their prey and retreating from dehydrating conditions that they often don't do much, but they are helping us piece together very significant information. They are diverse not just in shell size and colour but in the genetical complexity of species within very small areas of land." "So they are contributing to our knowledge, for example, of when the land bridge between the North and South islands occurred, the extent of glacial refuges along the Southern Alps, and so on."

Gideon Climo

Rod Morris

Right: Powelliphanta superba superba mating.

F O R E S T & B I R D • M AY 2 0 0 5

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Kath Walker

Stock-proof fencing can have a dramatic effect in protecting the habitat of giant land snails.

optimal possum control regimes, the fencing off of smaller colonies to exclude stock and predators, and wider public participation in their conservation. Kath Walker, who authored the plan, says the department is now spending millions on possum control to protect Powelliphanta snails and their forest habitat. Trials found the snails were not affected by 1080, allowing possum control operations to be carried out in rugged remote country such as the Heaphy – Kahurangi coast, where snail diversity was particularly high but predator control was initially thought too difficult to achieve. DOC is also controlling rats, and recently built a Karori Wildlife Sanctuarystyle mini predator-proof fence around one small snail population in Golden

Bay. The fence on this privately-owned property is the last in a series of efforts to recover a critically endangered snail species; a simple stock-proof fence had previously had a dramatic effect in restoring the tiny remnant of forest where the last snails survived. After 20 years without stock, the under-storey and deep moist litter layer finally returned to the forest, and this in turn improved snail survival and productivity. Perhaps the most difficult Powelliphanta predators to control are feral pigs and thrushes. Both these introduced species are adept at eating snails and compete for the snail's earthworm food resource. Control on a scale large enough to limit their impact has proven very hard. The most devastating losses have come

from the destruction of snail habitat. As with all species confined to single, very small areas, Powelliphanta are at considerable risk from land clearance. The species which originally suffered most were those in lowland forests on rich soils, which were quickly cleared for agriculture. Later, less fertile hill country species were affected through conversion of native forest to pine plantation, and high country tussock grassland being top-dressed, over-sown and converted to pasture. Most species now have at least part of their habitat protected, and cases such as the P. traversi forest remnant that was inadvertently converted into a car park are thankfully now rare. But without adequate protection from the ravages of habitat destruction and introduced predators, the amber glow of these giants of Gondwana could be snuffed out in a few decades. Stephanie Mills is director of communications at NZEI and a former Greenpeace New Zealand campaign manager.

Solid energy, fragile shells This year could be the first time a New Zealand native species is knowingly consigned to extinction. This may sound dramatic but unfortunately, for one species of giant land snail, it's only too likely a reality.

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D

uring surveys of the distribution of Powelliphanta "patrickensis", a species confined to the StocktonDenniston coal plateau which is currently threatened by the construction of the large opencast Cypress coal mine at Happy Valley, a completely new Powelliphanta snail was discovered on nearby Mt Augustus. The difficulty for the newly discovered P. "Augustus" snail, as it has been tagnamed, is that its whole known range – all four or five hectares of it – rests on top of a rich seam of coal. The area lies within the Stockton opencast coal mine, and SOE Solid Energy has all the consents they require to mine the site. Powelliphanta "Augustus" was first

found by a group of Nelson botanists just east of Mt Augustus in 1996, but that area has now been mined, with the loss of all its molluscan inhabitants. Despite searches by DOC staff and Solid Energy contractors, only one remaining population has been located which is confined to a small area of subalpine forest and scrub on the northern ridge of Mt Augustus, an area due to be mined within the year. There are few options for saving this species. Translocation is not realistic due to their specific habitat requirements. The snails' absence from undisturbed ratakamahi at lower altitudes on Mt Augustus means it is undoubtedly an alpine specialist. There are not too many 1,000 metre mountains around that receive six metres of w w w. f o r e s t a n d b i r d . o r g . n z


Kath Walker

Kath Walker

Powelliphanta "patrickensis" shells.

Kath Walker

Kath Walker

The last remaining habitat of Powelliphanta "Augustus".

Powelliphanta "Augustus" shell.

A hole in the ground is all that's left of the type locality of Powelliphanta "Augustus". Mt Augustus itself is still visible on the right-hand skyline, but it and the adjacent ridge is due to be removed by Solid Energy soon as part of its coal mining operations. The dark area at left is a coal seam.

rainfall a year and comprise highly acidic coal measures. The few there are – the Denniston Plateau and Mt Davy – are already occupied with a distinctive Powelliphanta species of their own which face its own problems due to coal mining pressures. "It's a lose-lose situation for DOC," says Forest and Bird conservation manager Kevin Hackwell. "If the Department refuses to issue a translocation permit, Solid Energy goes ahead with the mine and DOC gets the blame for their extinction. If DOC agree to move them, then without their own habitat, Powelliphanta "Augustus" are effectively captive animals and will become functionally extinct – so we end up with just a worthless sop. The only solution is to protect their habitat." Underground mining of the site may no longer be possible as the eastern side of the mountain has already been excavated leaving little structural support. Foregoing the coal here seems the best option, but will require more generous action from Solid Energy than that so far. Some might blame the potential demise of this piece of the biodiversity jigsaw on

the blinkered outlook of coal companies. Others on regional development minister Jim Anderton or SOE minister Paul Swain for failing to require Solid Energy to protect endangered species. Others still on George Bush's foot-dragging on global climate protection, because absurdly, the future of P. "Augustus", like its neighbour P. "patrickensis", may now hang on the arbitrary nature of world coal prices. The Environment Court may yet assist P. "patrickensis", however. The Cypress coal mine would remove 10% of the snail's remaining habitat and 9.5% of its remaining population. This would be a serious setback for P. "patrickensis", already suffering at least a 50% population decline on the Denniston-Stockton coal plateau because of habitat loss and degradation associated with coal mining, possum predation and, to a lesser degree, rat and thrush predation. The removal of native vegetation means the earthworm fauna on which Powelliphanta feed disappears too; and virtually all the best remaining habitat of P. "patrickensis" is in the Waimangaroa, within another mining permit area held by Solid Energy.

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The loss of the snail's habitat, along with the destruction of 200 hectares of rata and kamahi forest, shrubland and a red tussock wetland complex, were therefore the basis of appeals to the Environment Court in March by Forest and Bird and the Buller Conservation Group, against the West Coast Council's decision to grant the mine resource consents. The court has reserved its decision. At the moment, Solid Energy is on a roll, the recipient of government export awards and selling record levels of coking coal from the Stockton area to steel manufacturers, mainly in Asia. While the Kyoto climate accord came into force in February, the government's proposed carbon tax – which could make coal uneconomic in future because of its high carbon emissions – is still only on the horizon. A speedier Kyoto process might have saved the snails' proverbial bacon. Here on the West Coast at Stockton, the global is local. Reference: Walker, K.J. 2003: Recovery plans for Powelliphanta land snails. Threatened Species Recovery Plan 49. Department of Conservation, Wellingon. 208 p. + 68 plates. F O R E S T & B I R D • M AY 2 0 0 5

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in the field

Living with Text by Anne Graeme Illustrations by Tim Galloway

N

EW ZEALAND has about 80 species of lizard, roughly half of which are geckos – the baggy-skinned climbers (left) – and the rest, skinks – the smooth-skinned speedsters (below). This was a land of lizards and birds. Lizards were everywhere; on the ground, up the trees, and under bark and stones. High in the trees, geckos lapped nectar and pollinated flowers like pohutukawa, rata and rewarewa.

On the ground, skinks ate berries, insects, hoppers and worms; a feast now devoured by rats and mice. The lizards' only enemies were tuatara and predatory birds such as kingfisher, morepork and weka. Then people brought cats, ferrets, stoats, weasels, rats, mice and hedgehogs which went wild, killing and eating lizards (and birds). On the mainland, lizards were hard hit. Now they are only plentiful on pest-free islands.

H

ERE AT HOME we consider that our garden rates 'Triple A' – not for its beautiful flowers, its designer landscapes, or its imaginative layout, but for the lizards that make it their home. A lizard-friendly checklist should give us top marks in almost all the important categories: • No disturbance, thanks to the bark and ground-hugging plants that save us from weeding. • Lots of cover amongst the bark, plants, leaf litter and fallen branches. • Plenty of food such as insects as we rarely use sprays. The hardy local native plants also thrive without sprays, providing nectar and berries for lizards too. • Few rats because we have poison bait stations that are kept filled. • No cats as the old pets have died and visiting cats are not encouraged.

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For what we've done (and haven't) we have been rewarded by the return of the lizards. When I shifted a garden ornament, I found, curled in its hollow base, the biggest skink I have ever seen. Despite having no tail it was as long as my hand. It was so fat that I suspected it must be pregnant, and so glossy she looked as though she'd been buffed with shoe polish. We think she was an ornate skink, Cyclodina ornata. Then, turning over the pottery water bowl to clean it one day, I found a smaller skink with a bright coppery stripe along both margins of its back. It was a copper skink, C. aenea. And cutting back the pohuehue, which was taking over the path, we disturbed dozens more copper skinks. But our garden wasn't always like this. Lizards used to be few and unseen. That's the way it is in a neat and tidy garden. Such a garden cannot shelter a lizard. But if you have a 'wild' place in your garden, or a rough shrubbery strewn with fallen branches, or a rocky bank with tussocks and tumbling plants, you can easily encourage lizards to take up residence, or the timid few to multiply. All lizards need shelter from predators, stormy weather, and a safe refuge in winter.

Shelters can be natural, like cracks in the rockery or the spaces between logs, beneath rocks, and in the bases of flax and tussock. A lizard likes to squeeze itself into a space where it feels snug, its belly on the ground and the roof touching its back. The rats can't reach it there. So you can make lizard shelters out of almost anything – logs or timber off-cuts placed loosely on the ground, bricks or tiles roughly stacked, or a pile of rocks. Gaps of no more than 5-8 mm are said to be perfect and lots of nooks are needed as most lizards like their own space. Marieke Lettink, who studies the effect of shelter and predation on lizard survival, has tried various types of artificial covers. She finds that skinks particularly like roofing tiles laid on the ground and will also hide under off-cuts of onduline (a corrugated roofing material containing bitumen fibres), and between sheets of corrugated iron stacked and separated with 10 mm dowel. Geckos, says Marieke, are more fussy. They prefer the onduline stacks. All of these materials have the advantage of warming in the sun, storing heat for the lizards hiding underneath, and providing basking places for skinks by day. While her research is not yet complete, Marieke thinks that providing lizard

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Skinks in the city • Auckland gardens are home to the copper and ornate skinks, and the rainbow skink, an Australian species which is particularly active in the daytime. Gardens near bush margins may have green, forest or Pacific geckos.

• City gardens in Wellington may have copper, brown and common skinks,

coastal suburbs are home to common geckos, and hill suburbs are home to forest and green geckos.

• Common skinks live in Christchurch city and residents in the Port Hills and

Lyttleton may be lucky enough to have Canterbury geckos and even jewelled geckos in their gardens.

• Dunedin gardens perhaps don't fare quite so well.

Common skinks occur in the city and there are jewelled geckos in a few places along the Otago Peninsula.

At least twenty species of native lizard have turned up in suburban gardens. Source: Tony Whitaker

shelters in an undisturbed garden is well worthwhile. Her efforts have paid off and she has the delightful company of around 200 geckos on her 700 square metre coastal property at Birdlings Flat – not to mention the two species of skink that scurry about. But lizards can't hide all the time. They must come out to find food. Dense foliage provides safe cover, and the plants themselves are the lizard's larder. Plants are home to insects and spiders, the lizards' main food. Beetles and caterpillars munch amongst the ground cover plants and are themselves munched by skinks. An earthworm makes a good feed, and earthworms thrive under leaf mold. Mulch is a boon both for gardeners and for lizards. It keeps the ground moist, and as it decays, it provides food and shelter for soil invertebrates. And the sun-warmed bark or stones make basking places for sun-loving skinks. Geckos and skinks also like sweet, juicy berries of the divaricating Coprosma species and the nectar of flax and pohutukawa flowers. Like the lizards, rats are not usually seen in our gardens. But don't be deceived. They are there. So why not do the lizards a favour and put out a rat bait station? You may be surprised at the rate the bait disappears. Our backyard skinks are not rare or

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endangered like, say, the Otago skink, which is hanging on by its claws. The skinks in our garden are described as 'common' and their distribution as 'widespread'. But compared to their previous abundance, they are but a shadow of their former numbers. We can't have kiwi or kakapo in our own backyards, but, just as our gardens can be home to native fantails and grey warblers, they can be havens for lizards. Your wild garden can delight both you and the lizards. They will eat your insects, spiders, hoppers and worms. Well, maybe you'd prefer they spared the worms, but your reward will be in knowing that some special New Zealanders have found a home at your place.

Marvellous Muehlenbeckia

P

OHUEHUE, Muehlenbeckia complexa, is that tawny tangle of wiry branches that grows so exuberantly behind the sand dunes. It is the perfect home for skinks and geckos. They are safe under the pohuehue. The tough, springy branches, which may once have repelled hungry moa, nowadays keep out hungry rats and cats. Slipping safely through the maze of branches, lizards can feast on the abundant insects that feed upon the plant, including the caterpillars of the native copper butterfly and other endemic species. Beneath the bush the accumulated leaf litter is alive with hoppers, beetles and worms. And for dessert, geckos can climb through the branches to eat the juicy, glistening fruit. The golden cushions of pohuehue would grace any garden. It is very vigorous so it is best grown by itself as an island where it can be clipped into obedience – or not, depending on your preference.

Acknowledgements: Tony Whitaker and Marieke Lettink. Further reading: 'Lizards in the Garden' Tony Whitaker, Forest & Bird magazine, November 1999.

F O R E S T & B I R D • M AY 2 0 0 5

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branchingout

Photography By Woolf

ROD MORRIS © DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION

Great spotted kiwi

Members rescue kiwi survey programme

Margaret Peace recieving her award at Investiture in April 2005 from the Hon. Dame Silvia Cartwright, Governor-General and Patron of Forest and Bird.

EVERY summer since 1994, volunteers have provided valuable information on great spotted kiwi through a listening survey in Lake Sumner Forest Park,  conducted by DOC's conservation volunteer programme. This summer, it was put in jeopardy when DOC

A LONG time ago I sat in a classroom and listened to my biology teacher enthusing about flowers. That teacher was Margaret Peace and it was teachers like her who set me on a life-long love affair with the natural world. Margaret Peace, who this year received a Queen's Service Medal for Public Service, has a lifetime of conservation activity behind her. When she was twelve she visited the Auckland Museum. Seeing her interest and enthusiasm Robert Falla, the curator of natural history, suggested she join Forest and Bird, and she did. Now she is a distinguished life member and only recently stepped down from 15 years service as chair of the Marlborough branch.

pulled out, the survey being a victim of the pressure on them to fund Operation Ark from within existing budgets. North Canterbury Forest and Bird members stepped in to keep the survey going and enjoyed a week of listening for kiwi in the picturesque Forest Park.

WAITAKERE Forest and Bird branch secretary, Ken Catt, was awarded the Queen's Service Medal for Public Service in the New Year's Honours List. Among his many achievments, Ken initiated a successful campaign to use funds accumulating from an oil spill levy on shipping to establish a centre for the treatment of oiled and injured wildlife, and drew attention to invasive marine species arriving in ballast water. In the 1980s he sought Forest and Bird support for the establishment of a marine mammal sanctuary around Banks Peninsula to protect the threatened Hector's dolphin. Once he learned of the even greater threat to the North Island Hector's dolphin subspecies, Maui's dolphin, he and fellow branch member, Mike Percy, campaigned for DOC to take action. With the appointment of former Forest and Bird executive member Sandra Lee as conservation minister in 1997 the situation rapidly changed. Over the years, Ken has supported the Society's work in many areas, notably the protection of West Coast forests. Prior to becoming 44

Courtesy of Ken Catt

QSM awarded to Ken Catt

F O R E S T & B I R D • M AY 2 0 0 5

secretary of the Waitakere branch he served as chairperson and councillor. As a member of the national executive he convened the animal pest committee, and served on the administration and marine committees. He is convenor of a working group considering the establishment of a West Coast Marine Park. When harbour view land was transferred to the Waitakere City Council he made a submission which included proposing a park in the lowland area and a "round peninsula" walkway. He served on two working groups that developed this concept. Both the park and walkway have since been established. He represents the Society on many local committees and is currently investigating UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.

Tribute to Margaret Peace qsm Margaret has spoken up on issues like burning tussock, destruction of native forests, and the proposal to turn Wairau lagoon into a desalination pond. She also led the campaign against aerial spraying of 245-T when it was used to destroy native forest in preparation for pine planting. Now 81-years-old, Margaret still 'walks the talk'. Her one acre section includes a vegetable garden, fruit trees and chickens, and wildlife habitat in the area devoted to native plants. While she admits to wearying of pushing the environmental barrow, I know Margaret will not cease to work for the environment and Forest and Bird as long as she is able to. Ann Graeme

Volunteers for Mana YELLOW-crowned parakeets (kakariki), takahe, brown teal (pateke) and giant weta are just a few of the rare and endangered species you are likely to see if you volunteer for one of the work opportunities planned on Mana Island this year. Wellington Forest and Bird branch treasurer Colin Ryder says volunteers are needed to help plant out 10,000 canopy trees such as kahikatea and kohekohe between May and July. Related work also includes tending the nursery and weed control. The Department of Conservation (DOC) also plans to transfer 240 fluttering shearwater chicks

to a new colony of artificial burrows on the island over the next three years, starting in early 2006. Volunteers are needed to prepare artificial burrows and help with the transfer and hand feeding of chicks on the island. The shearwaters will be the third seabird species transferred to the island after earlier successful transfers of common diving petrel and fairy prion chicks. If you would like to volunteer for these exciting initiatives or receive notification of these activities, please contact Wellington branch treasurer Colin Ryder via email at: rydercj@xtra.co.nz

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bulletin IN MARCH, 38 Kiwi Conservation Club (KCC) coordinators from the Far North to Southland met at the Tautuku outdoor education centre in The Catlins for a weekend of workshops with Forest and Bird staff. The coordinators are parents and

Forest and Bird members who volunteer their time to take KCC members on local field trips. During the workshops and field trips participants shared teaching tips and learned about important health and safety issues for organising field trips with children.

Judith Tyler

The bull kelp Durvillea Antarctica makes a fine beach sled. John Barkla from Dunedin hauls the stalk while KCC national coordinator Ann Graeme clings to the blade at Papatowai beach.

Forest and Bird

KCC coordinators gather for workshops

A chorus of bellbirds (korimako), tomtits (ngiru-ngiru) and fantails (piwakawaka) captivated participants at the KCC coordinators' gathering as they made their way along the boardwalk at nearby Lake Wilkie.

FOREST and Bird is planning to increase its email communications with existing members and interested members of the public. If you are not already a member and would like to receive information from the Society via email please send an email marked "E-mail matters" in the subject field, containing your name and contact details to Sarah Crawford at: s.crawford@forestandbird.org.nz If you are an existing member please be sure to update your email and other contact details if they change. You can do this online via the Forest and Bird website on the membership page or by calling us on Freephone 0800 200 064.

Forest and Bird

E-mail matters

During the workshops participants shared teaching experiences and had time to make new friends and contacts. It is these enthusiastic volunteers who nurture and encourage the conservation ethic amongst the next generation through KCC. Staff member Carol Knutson appears at left.

office@forestandbird.org.nz

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F O R E S T & B I R D • M AY 2 0 0 5

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bulletin

FOREST and Bird is currently running a series of free public workshops around the country entitled Breaking Down the Barriers – The Resource Management Act Made Easy. The workshops are designed to increase community understanding of the Resource Management Act (RMA) and improve community participation in RMA processes at local government level. The workshop aims to provide participants with skills that enable them to participate more effectively in RMA processes and have a say on proposed activities affecting the natural environment in their area. They are being facilitated by resource management lawyer Kate Mitcalfe, and will include guest speakers from local councils and environmental organisations. Three full-day workshops were held in Palmerston North, Christchurch and

Takapuna during March, April and early May. Three more are scheduled for Upper Hutt (14th May), Blenheim (22nd May), and Wanaka (11th June). Local branches have provided generous support with the organisation of these events. Designed to be user-friendly, anyone is welcome to attend these one-day community workshops free of charge. All participants receive a complimentary 'Guide to the RMA' booklet. The workshops have been organised with the financial assistance of a grant from the ministry for the environment's education and advisory services fund. More information is available from the internet at: www.forestandbird.org.nz/RM/ workshops2005.asp or from Sue Yates at Forest and Bird central office in Wellington.

JS Watson Conservation Trust The Trust is administered by Forest and Bird. Applications are invited from individuals or conservation groups for financial assistance for conservation projects over the 2005-2006 year. Criteria for assistance are: • The conservation of plants and animals and natural features of New Zealand; • The advancement of knowledge in these matters by way of research, literary contribution, essay or articles, or other effort; • General education of the public to give them an understanding and love of the world in which they live. A total of around $20,000 is available for distribution. Individual applications should be limited to a maximum of $4,000. Download an application form and application procedures from our website or request an application pack by emailing or writing to: JS Watson Trust Forest and Bird PO Box 631 Wellington office@forestandbird.org.nz www.forestandbird.org.nz Preliminary applications close 7 June 2005

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F O R E S T & B I R D • M AY 2 0 0 5

BirdLife International

Resource management community workshops

This map shows the at-sea density distribution of threatened seabird species in the southern oceans.

Global campaign meets in 'seabird capital' THE BIRDLIFE International Save the Albatross campaign held its annual planning meeting in Wellington during November, hosted at the Forest and Bird central office. The meeting opened on a high note shortly after the landmark new Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels met for the first time in Hobart, Australia. BirdLife International and Partner organisation staff who had been in Hobart to advocate for stronger albatross protection measures used the opportunity to travel on to New Zealand for the planning meeting. Participants attended from five countries and included: Professor John Croxall, who chaired the meeting, Dr Euan Dunn of the RSPB, the BirdLife Partner in the UK, Dr Cleo Small, Dr Ben Sullivan and Dr John Fanshawe of BirdLife International, Professor Charles Cheng, President of the Wild Bird Federation of Taiwan, Carles Carboneras of SEO/BirdLife, Fabian Rabufetti of Aves Argentina, and Sam Peterson of BirdLife South Africa. Forest and Bird was represented by conservation manager Kevin Hackwell, senior researcher Barry Weeber, and communications manager Michael Szabo.

The meeting discussed opportunities and plans for the year ahead and compared experiences working in different contexts. A campaign workplan was developed and priorities identified. One of these, marine protected areas, focussed on the need to identify Important Bird Areas (IBAs) at sea and contribute to the development of a set of global marine IBA criteria. Forest and Bird and the Spanish and Portuguese BirdLife Partner organisations, SEO/BirdLife and SPEA, have undertaken to develop national marine IBA inventories. They will also send representatives to a workshop in Europe at the end of the year to further develop and then agree the global criteria. The meeting also discussed and agreed that BirdLife International would not join the southern seabird solutions trust set up in New Zealand in 2004 because of the absence, in the trust's objectives, of a clear commitment to timetabled targets for reducing seabird bycatch. Participants also shared a working lunch with DOC seabird scientists and central office staff, visited Te Papa's seabird collection, and joined Forest and Bird central office staff for a field trip to Kapiti Island.

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booknotes Notice of 82nd Annual General Meeting THE 82nd annual general meeting of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc will be held in Wellington on Saturday 11th June 2005 at 8.30 am in the Mecure Hotel and Conference Centre (previously known as Kingsgate) at 355 Willis Street.

The business to be transacted will include the receipt of the annual accounts and annual report to members. All members are welcome. The meeting will be followed by the Society's council meeting which is conducted by branch representatives.

Michael Szabo

Kiwi-friendly subdivisions

THE LURE of lifestyle living has brought subdivisions into the most remote corners of the country. With the houses and people come loss of habitat and new threats to wildlife. Houses may nestle in the bush but kereru still fly into their windows and pets eat local birds and lizards. Dogs and cats are some people's favourite companion animals but they are also enemies of native wildlife. Recognising these problems, the Far North Forest and Bird branch successfully sought to restrict subdivision in kiwi areas through the District Plan zonings. But some subdivision is inevitable and Forest and Bird nationally has long championed the sensible idea of dog and catfree subdivisions adjacent to important places for wildlife. Persistence has paid off. The Far North District Council now routinely requires dog and cat restrictions on new subdivisions in kiwi areas.

They recently designated as 'pet-free and wildlifefriendly', seven contiguous subdivisions covering 200 hectares near Kerikeri. This is part of the Kerikeri Peninsula which has 145 recorded adult North Island brown kiwi. The conditions governing the subdivisions not only ban pets but require land owners to carry out integrated pest control and bar entry to visitors with pets. It isn't a perfect solution, says Michael Winch, secretary of the Far North branch. More subdivision means more traffic and that leads to more kiwi killed on the road. But it is a big step forward in helping the beleaguered kiwi and in changing people's attitude towards the wildlife they live amongst. Credit goes to the Far North branch, DOC kiwi advocate Wendy Sporle, and Lindsay Charman and Greg Blunden of the NZ Kiwi Foundation. Ann Graeme

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Westland Foothills & Forests – A Walking and Tramping Guide by Pat Barrett, 160pp limpbound, Longacre Press 2004 RRP $39.95. A companion to Pat Barrett's Canterbury book, this is a lovely publication with superb colour photos and detailed colour maps. It provides a wealth of advice on all the marked tracks, huts and recognised tramping routes of the West Coast foothills region from Karamea south to Jackson's Bay. The guidebook includes walks and tramps suitable for a range of fitness levels from Easy to Hard+. There are family trips, short 10 minute walks on boardwalks and hardened trails through to a route description of the serious ascent of Mt Adams, overlooking the Okarito Lagoon. The book touches on the natural and early European history of the walks. Sadly for Forest and Bird readers, nowhere in the book is there any acknowledgement of the more recent huge public conservation efforts that protected many of these beautiful areas. Okarito is much more than just an old goldmining area; it is a heartland for New Zealand forest conservation. The careful descriptions of each trip coupled with strategically placed photos will inspire every reader to get out and discover this wild and beautiful region. It is a celebration that should grace every nature lover's coffee table and their backpack on their next West Coast exploring trip. Gerry McSweeney

Restoring Kapiti Edited by Kerry Brown, 128pp limpbound, Otago University Press 2005 RRP $29.95. Kapiti Island is now New Zealand's largest single area of lowland coastal forest free from introduced mammalian herbivores and predators. But this has not always been the case. Between 1900 and 1935 introduced pigs, goats, deer, cattle, sheep and cats were eliminated. The heroic effort to eradicate possums started in 1980 and was completed in 1987. In 1996, after two aerial poison bait drops a month apart, the island was declared rat-free. Already an important 'lifeboat' for many rare species of native plants and animals, the final elimination of alien pests has meant the island's importance has grown even greater. Every year new threatened species are being established on the island. This book is by people who contributed to the modern restoration of Kapiti. It provides both a useful guide and inspiration for the growing legions of conservationists restoring other sites in New Zealand and beyond. Kevin Hackwell F O R E S T & B I R D • M AY 2 0 0 5

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Fiordland Ecology Holidays

"Specialist Nature tours"

Australia

65ft Motor Yacht Breaksea Girl 3 to 7 day trips in Fiordland. Dolphins, seals and penguins, forest ecology, natural history combined with great food and company. Small groups so bookings essential. Forest & Bird members 5% discount. Suitable for all ages. Spring and Summer schedule now out. PH/FAX: 03 249 6600 FREEPHONE 0800 249 660 PO Box 40, MANAPOURI EMAIL info@fiordland.gen.nz www.fiordland.gen.nz

WINNER 1999

Peru – Bolivia – Argentina – Brazil Includes Inca Trail & Amazon Jungle

Offers nature lovers some of the last remote, diverse and spectacular wilderness areas left   in the world. Let our professional naturalist guides share their love for nature with you.

For a family with energy and enthusiasm – 2 ha in Tasman district, 3 br house, sc cottage, dble garage on elevated site. Restoration into natives, wetlands, gullies. Owners reluctantly selling for employment reasons. Ph 03 540 3354, email: gavjane.lambert@clear.net.nz.

south east asia Thailand Laos Vietnam Cambodia

29 days – Dep 1 July 05 – Small Group

CALL 0800 528 465 Latin Link Adventure PO Box 119 Takaka Fax: 03 525 9892 Email: marg@latinlink.co.nz

50+ TRAVEL AND LEARN Chatham Islands Tours Make 2006 the year you visit New Zealand's undiscovered treasure

8 days

History, flora and fauna with experienced Chatham Island's guide. All inclusive cost ex Wellington $2340 late January and mid March contact Averill Lockhart phone 06 752 3443 email loc@clear.net.nz An illustrated guide to 97 scenic walks in the South Island, with an emphasis on accessibility. $25.95 plus $4 postage CONTACT:

anna-j@ihug.co.nz Fax: 03 466 7694 40 Pacific St,Dunedin www.accessiblewalks.co.nz

Bush & Beyond Guided Trekking

Kahurangi National Park Heaphy Track & Many more. Ask about the Cobb Comfort and West Coast Escape – Multi-day trips with daypack only!

www.naturetreks.co.nz 35 School Rd, RD3 Motueka, New Zealand Tel/Fax +64 3 528 9054 email: Bushandbeyond@xtra.co.nz

We emphasis conservation values Clients only expected to carry their personal gear

BIORESEARCHES CONSULTING BIOLOGISTS

Gecko Trails Insightful

small group adventures. Diverse cultures, enchanting people, stunning “Nature tours landscapes specialists” & unique experiences.

Australia & Beyond

Please contact us for a brochure 03 546 7256 info@geckotrails.co.nz

Join us as we explore some of the last diverse and tspectacular w remote, w w. g e c ko ra i l s .wilderness c o. n z areas left in the world. Let our professional naturalist guides share their love for nature with you. RON GREENWOOD

ENVIRONMENTAL TRUST Experience the natural history highlights of Western Australia, Northern Queenslandfinancial plus Lord Howe, The trust provides Kangaroo and Christmasadvancing Islands. support for projects In 2005 we also explore the highly desired natural thehistory conservation and protection destinations of the Galapagos Islands, of Ecuadorian New Zealand's natural Jungle and Sri Lanka.

resources, particularly flora and For your 2005 brochure & tour details contact:fauna, marine life, geology, E-MAIL: coates@iinet.net.au atmosphere & waters. WEBSITE: www.coateswildlifetours.com.au More information available TEL: (61 8) 9455 6611 FAX:is(61 8) 9455 6621 P.O. Box 64, Bullcreek, from the Trust,W.A. at:6149 PO Box 10-359, Wellington

OKARITO COTTAGE

AND ARCHAEOLOGISTS Peru - Bolivia - Argentina Environmental Impact Studies Surveys of Marine, Freshwater & Terrestrial Habitats Brazil Pollution Investigations Resource Consent procedures ESTABLISHED 1972

Includes Inca Trail & Amazon Jungle 29 days– Dep 3 July 05- Small Group

Archaeological; Historic Places Appraisal

CALL 0800 528 465

bioresearches@bioresearches.co.nz www.bioresearches.co.nz P.O Box 2828 Auckland Latin Link Adventure PH: AUCKLAND 379 9417 PO Box 119 Fax: 03 5259892 Fax Takaka (09) 307 6409

Email: marg@latinlink.co.nz

We are your Kahurangi NP specialists Multi-day comfort trips (daypack) Multi-day backpacking incuding Heaphy Track www.naturetreks.co.nz We emphasise conservation values 35 School Rd, RD3 Motueka, New Zealand Tel/Fax +64 3 528 9054 email: Bushandbeyond@xtra.co.nz

Well appointed cottage. Sleeps 3 but room for more in the attic. Close to West Coast beach, bush walks and lagoon. Southern Alps form a backdrop and Franz Josef approx. 30 kilometres on tarsealed road.

Kiwis for Kiwis

Further enquiries contact Elspeth Scott, 19 Ngamotu Rd, Taupo 07-378-9390 email: ElspethScott@xtra.co.nz

Napier branch has a supply of pads of these. Each contains 50 sheets, gummed on the back. Cost $3 per pad; bulk orders of 10 or more to branches, $2.50 per pad.

Cost $60 PER FAMILY Extra Adults $5.00 per night

PHILPROOF

ENVELOPE SAVERS

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Beautiful 23 acre lifestyle block complete with 2 (large)bdm strawbale home, (interiordesigned with giant Jarrah beams, open An illustrated guide fire, cast iron bath),to state-of-art solarwalks power in 97 scenic system, half pasture, halfthe mature nativeIsland, trees South (Kauri, Totara, Pohutukawa, Puriri), abundant with an emphasis native bird life. on accessibility. $19.95 plusfrom $3 postage Just 7 mins from beach, 25 mins CONTACT: Auckland ferry. Reluctant sale of a dream anna-j@ihug.co.nz place. $975,000. Ph Leslie, (09) 372-5644. Phone: 03 466 7637

Eco

40 Pacific St,Dunedin www.accessiblewalks.co.nz

Stewart Island Ready for a change? Nature Guides & Qualified Sea Kayak Guides

Wanted by small, professional eco-operator 6-17 2005 wilderness more information in aOctober unique www.forestandbird.org.nz setting.

Rece

Co 3-8 d 5% V

E

Apply by 31st July 2005

Ruggedy Range™ Wilderness Experience P O Box 188, Stewart Island

PHILPRO

WIPEOUT: Possums, Rodents, M Standard & Mini Philproof Bait Stat ● Rodent Bait Stations and Block Baits ● Fenn Traps (MK4 & 6), Trap Cover Also available: Monitoring Tunnels & B Phone/Fax 07 859 2943 ● Mobi PO Box 4385, Hamilton Website: http://get.to/philproof Email: philp ●

Make cheques payable to: Napier Forest & Bird

Manufacturers, Importers and suppliers

ENVIRONMENTAL TRUST

More information is available from the Trust, at: PO Box 10-359, Wellington

Waiheke Island Eco-Paradise

Send orders to: “ENVELOPE SAVERS” 160 Vigor Brown St, Napier

D AND E.A. GREENWOOD PEST CONTROL RON PRODUCTS WIPEOUT: Possums, Rodents, Mustelids, Rabbits The trust provides financial Standard & Mini Philproof Bait Stations & Timms Traps Rodent Bait Stations and Block Baits. Snapadvancing Traps supportRodent for projects the Fenn Traps (MK4 & 6), Trap Covers – Double and or Single conservation protection of Also available: Monitoring TunnelsNew & Bird Nestingnatural Chambers Zealand’s resources, Phone/Fax 07 859 2943 Mobile 021 270 5896 particularly flora & fauna, marine PO Box 4385, Hamilton 2032 geology, atmosphere & waters. Website: http://get.to/philproof Email:life, philproof.feeders@clear.net.nz

Experience the natural history highlights of Western Australia, Northern Queensland plus Lord Howe, Kangaroo and Christmas Islands. In 2005 we also explore the highly desired natural history destinations of the Galapagos Islands, Ecuadorian Jungle and Sri Lanka.           For your 2005 brochure & tour details contact:     E-MAIL: coates@iinet.net.au   WEBSITE: www.coateswildlifetours.com.au TEL: (61 8) 9455 6611   FAX: (61 8) 9455 6621 P.O. Box 64, Bullcreek, W.A. 6149

Suppliers of:

Endemic Art

• Pindone Possum Pellets • Kilmore, Sentry & KK Bait Stations • Sentinel, Possum Master & Timms Possum Kill Traps • Apple Pulp Paste & Peanut Butter Paste

• Live Capture Ferret W Box Trap • Cage Traps • Fenn Traps & Covers • Pindone Rabbit Pelle • Infrared Pest Finder • Pindone Liquid Conc • Contrac & Ditrac Ro • Bell Laboratories Ro & Bait Stations

Plus many more products for the control of: Commissioned artworks to w w w . f• oPOSSUMS r e s t a n d b i r d . o r g . n• zRABBITS order, murals, originals or prints • RODENTS • BIRDS • MUSTELIDS • INSECTS Contact Artist, Vicki Moore


branchdirectory Upper North Island Central Auckland: Acting Chair, Anne Fenn; Secretary, Isabel Still, PO Box 1118, Shortland St, Auckland. Tel:‑(09)‑528-3986. Far North: Chair, Gary Bramley; Secretary. Michael Winch, PO Box 270, Kaeo, Northland. Tel: (09) 405-1746 Franklin: Chair & Secretary, Keith Gardner, 5 Stembridge Ave, Pukekohe. Tel: (09) 238-9928. Great Barrier Island: Secretary, Jenny Lloyd, 165 Shoal Bay Rd, RD1, Gt Barrier Is. Tel: (09) 429-0404. Hauraki Islands: Chair, Petra White; Secretary; Simon Griffiths, PO Box 314, Ostend, Waiheke Island. Tel: (09)‑372-9583 Hibiscus Coast: Chair, Spencer Drinkwater; Secretary, Carrie Drinkwater, P O Box 310, Orewa. Tel: (09) 427-5517. Kaipara: Chair, Suzi Phillips; Secretary, Maire Thompson, Private Bag 1, Helensville 1250. Tel: (09) 411-5494 Mid North: Chair, Warwick Massey; Secretary, Hueline Massey, PO Box 552, Warkworth 1241. Tel: (09) 425-9246. Northern: Chair, vacant; Secretary, Beverly Woods, PO Box 1375, Whangarei. Tel: (09) 436-0932. North Shore: Chair, Neil Sutherland; Secretary, Jocelyn Sanders, PO Box 33 873, Takapuna, North Shore City.  Tel: (09) 479-2107. South Auckland: Chair, to be confirmed; Secretary, Ken Rutherford, 56 Cockle Bay Rd, Howick. Tel: (09) 537-2093. Thames/Hauraki: Chair, Mrs Hazel Genner; Secretary, Marcia Sowman, 507 The Terrace, Thames. Tel: (07) 868-8696. Mercury Bay Section: Chair, Bruce Mackereth; Secretary, Mona Candy, PO Box 205, Whitianga 2856. Tel: (07) 866-4648.

Upper Coromandel: Chair, Tina Morgan; Secretary, Lettecia Williams, PO Box 108 Coromandel. Tel: (07) 866-6926. Waitakere: Chair, Peter Maddison; Secretary, Robyn Rendall, PO Box 21691, Henderson, Waitakere City 1007. Tel: (09) 817-1142.

Central North Island Eastern Bay of Plenty: Chair, Arthur Sandom; Secretary, Sandee Malloch, c/- 260 Ohiwa Harbour Rd, RD2, Opotiki 3092. Tel: (07) 315-4989. Gisborne: Chair, to be confirmed; Secretary, Grant Vincent, 1 Dominey Street, Gisborne, Tel: (06) 868-8236. King Country: Secretary, Steve Poelman, 37 Rangaroa Road, Taumarunui. Tel: (07) 896-7557. Rotorua: Chair, Chris Ecroyd; Secretary, Herb Madgwick, 36 Selwyn Rd, Rotorua. Tel: (07) 345-6255. South Waikato: Chair, Anne Groos; Secretary, Jack Groos, 37 Waianiwa Place, Tokoroa. Tel: (07) 886-7456. Taupo: Chair, to be confirmed; Secretary, Betty Windley, PO Box 1105 Taupo, Tel: (07) 377-1186. Tauranga: Chair, Basil Graeme; Secretary, Sara Brill, PO Box 487, Tauranga. Tel: (07) 544-4338. Te Puke: Chair, Neale Blaymires; Secretary, Dallas Munro, 636B No1 Rd, RD 2, Te Puke 3071. Tel: (07) 573-9212. Waihi: Chair, Ian Bradshaw; Secretary, Krishna Buckman, 17 Reservoir Road, Waihi. Tel: (07) 863-8455. Waikato: Chair, Dr Philip Hart; Secretary, Jim MacDiarmid, PO Box 11-092, Hillcrest, Hamilton, Tel: (07) 849-3438. Wairoa: Chair, Stanley Richardson; Secretary, Glenys Single, 72 Kopu Rd, Wairoa 4192. Tel: (06) 838-8232.

Lower North Island Central Hawke's Bay: Chair, Phil Enticott; Secretary, Max Chatfield, PO Box 189, Waipukurau.  Tel: (06) 858-9298. Hastings/Havelock North:  Chair, Peter Collins; Secretary, Doreen Hall, Flat 1, 805 Kennedy Rd, Hastings. Tel: (06) 876-5978. Horowhenua: Chair, Robert Hirschberg; Secretary, Joan Leckie, Makahika Rd, RD 1, Levin 5500. Tel: (06) 368-1277. Kapiti: Chair, David Gregorie; Secretary, John McLachlan, 78 Langdale Ave, Paraparaumu. Tel: (04) 904-0027. Lower Hutt: Chair, Stan Butcher; Secretary; Bill Watters, PO Box 31194, Lower Hutt, Tel: (04) 565-0638. Manawatu: Chair, Donald Kerr; Secretary, Brent Barrett, PO Box 961, Palmerston Nth, 5301. (06) 357-6962. Napier: Chair, Isabel Morgan;  Secretary, Margaret Gwynn, 23 Clyde Rd, Napier. Tel: (06) 835 2122. North Taranaki: Chair, Molly Molloy; Secretary, Murray Duke, 28 Hurford Rd, RD4, New Plymouth 4621. Tel: (06) 751 2759. Rangitikei: Chair, Kit Coleman; Secretary, Betty Graham, 41‑Tutaenui Rd, Marton. Tel: (06) 327-7008. South Taranaki: Chair, Rex Hartley; Secretary, Lynda Sutherland, 39 High St, Eltham 4657. Tel: (06) 764-7479. Upper Hutt: Chair, Barry Wards; Secretary, to be conformed, P O Box 40-875, Upper Hutt. Tel: (04) 971-9739. Wairarapa: Chair, Geoff Doring; Secretary, c/- Mike Lynch, 179 West St, Greytown. Tel: (06) 304-7222. Wanganui: Chair, Stephen Sammons; Secretary, Ray Hutchison, PO Box 4229, Wanganui. Tel: (06) 345-2651. Wellington: Chair, Gordon Purdie; Secretary, Louise Taylor, PO Box 4183, Wellington. Tel: (04) 971-1770.

South Island Ashburton: Chair, Bill Hood; Secretary, Edith Smith, PO Box 460, Ashburton, Tel: (03) 308-4440. Dunedin: Chair, Prof. Alan Mark; Secretary, Paul Star, PO Box 5793, Dunedin. Tel: (03) 478-0315. Golden Bay: Chair, Jenny Treloar; Secretary, Jo-Anne Vaughan, Puponga Rd, Ferntown, RD1, Collingwood 7171. Tel: (03) 524-8072. Kaikoura: Chair, Linda Kitchingham; Secretary, Barry Dunnett, Pooles Rd RD1, Kaikoura. Tel: (03) 319-5086. Marlborough: Chair, Andrew John; Secretary, Michael Harvey, PO Box 896, Blenheim. Tel: (03) 577-6086. Nelson/Tasman: Chair, Dr Peter Ballance; Secretary, Gillian Pollock, Dawson Rd, RD1, Upper Moutere 7152. Tel: (03) 540-3495. North Canterbury: Chair, Bruce StuartMenteath; Secretary, Maria StokerFarrell, 12 James Drive, Church Bay, RD1, Lyttelton 8012. Tel: (03) 309 4333. South Canterbury: Chair, John Talbot; Secretary, Thelma Boyce, 30 Birkett St, Temuka, South Canterbury 8752. Tel: (03) 615-8234. Southland: Chair, Craig Carson; Secretary, Barbara Boyde, P O Box 1155, Invercargill. Tel: (03) 216-0353. South Otago: Chair, Carol Botting; Secretary, Verna Gardner, Romahapa Rd, Balclutha. Tel: (03) 418-1819. Upper Clutha: Chair, Barbara Chinn; Secretary, Errol Carr, PO Box 38, Lake Hawea, Central Otago 9192. Tel: (03) 443-8669. Waitaki: Chair, Ross Babington; Secretary, Annette Officer, 21 Arrow Crescent, Oamaru. Tel: (03) 434-6107. West Coast: Secretary/Treasurer, Carolyn Cox, PO Box 415, Westport. Tel: (03) 789-5334.

fax: (04) 385-7373. Email: office@forestandbird.org.nz

or 10 mins from Days Bay. Ideal place to relax in beautiful surroundings, with accommodation for 8. Bring your own food and bedding and a torch. Smoking is banned everywhere on the island, including the house. For information sheet, send stamped addressed envelope to: Accommodation officer, PO Box 31-194, Lower Hutt. (04) 567-1686.

lodgeaccommodation Arethusa Cottage An ideal place from which to explore the Far North. Near Pukenui in wetland reserve. 6 bunks, fully equipped kitchen, separate bathroom outside. For information and bookings, contact: John Dawn, Doves Bay Road, RD1, Kerikeri. Tel: (09) 407-8658, fax: (09) 407-1401. Tai Haruru Lodge, Piha, West Auckland A seaside haven set in a large sheltered garden on the rugged West Coast, 38km on sealed roads from central Auckland. Close to store, bush reserves and tracks in the beautiful Waitakere Ranges. Double bedroom and 3 singles, plus large lounge with open fireplace, dining area and kitchen. The self-contained unit has 4 single beds. Bring food, linen and fuel for fire and BBQ. For details and rates send stamped addressed envelope to Jan Harvey, 25 Kauri Point Road, Laingholm, Waitakere City. Tel: (09) 817 8282. Email: janharvey@xtra.co.nz.

Waiheke Island Cottage Located next to our 49ha Wildlife Reserve, 10 mins walk to Onetangi Beach, general stores etc. Sleeps up to 8 in two bedrooms. Lounge, wellequipped kitchen, separate toilet, bathroom, shower, laundry. Pillows, blankets provided. No pets. Ferries 35 minutes from Auckland. Enquiries with stamped addressed envelope to: Robin Griffiths, 125 The Strand, Onetangi, Waiheke Island. Tel: (09) 372-7662. Ruapehu Lodge, Tongariro National Park Situated 600 metres from Whakapapa Village, at the foot of Mount Ruapehu, this lodge is available for members and their friends. It may also be hired out to other compatible groups by special arrangement. It is an ideal base for tramping, skiing, botanising or visiting the hotpools at Tokaanu. The lodge holds 32 people in four bunkrooms and provides all facilities except food and bedding. Bookings and inquiries to Forest and Bird, PO Box 631, Wellington. Tel: (04) 385-7374,

w w w. f o r e s t a n d b i r d . o r g . n z

William Hartree Memorial Lodge, Hawkes Bay Situated 48km from Napier, 8km past Patoka on the Puketitiri Rd (sealed). The lodge is set amid a 14ha scenic reserve and close to many walks, eg: Kaweka Range, Balls Clearing, hot springs and museum. The lodge accommodates up to 15 people. It has a fully equipped kitchen including stove, refrigerator and microwave plus tile fire, hot showers. Supply your own linen, sleeping bags etc. For information and bookings please send a stamped addressed envelope to Pam and John Wuts, 15 Durham Ave, Tamatea, Napier. (06) 844-4751 Email: wutsie@xtra.co.nz Matiu/Somes Island, Wellington Harbour Joint venture accommodation by Lower Hutt Forest and Bird with DOC. A modern family home with kitchen, 3 bedrooms, large lounge and dining room, just 20 mins sailing by ferry from the centre of Wellington

Tautuku Lodge State Highway 92, Southeast Otago. Situated on Forest and Bird's 550ha Lenz Reserve 32km south of Owaka. A bush setting, and many lovely beaches nearby provide a wonderful base for exploring the Catlins. The lodge, the Coutts cabin and an Aframe sleep 10, 4 and 2 respectively. No Animals. For information and rates please send a stamped addressed envelope to the caretaker: Diana Noonan, Mirren St, Papatowai, Owaka, RD2. Tel: (03) 415-8024, fax (03) 415-8244. Email: diana.n@clear. net.nz

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