Pateke are coming!

19 Dec 2014

 PHOTO Pateke ready for release J.Sim, DOC

The drive over the past two years to enable pateke to be translocated to the te Henga / Bethell’s area has been successful with approval given in mid November.

In January 2015, 20 pateke each with a transmitter will be released at Matuku, the Forest & Bird sanctuary.

To reduce the risk of an immediate initial dispersal, feeders the same as the ones they are used to at Peacock Springs in Christchurch where they have been raised, will have the pelletised supplements that have sustained them. Gradually, the ducks will discover more and more of the natural foods available in their new surrounds; seeds, invertebrates, grasses, and as they do so an interesting adaptation will be occurring. Ducks fed solely a grain diet can starve if just presented with natural food sources, as their gut needs to lengthen to be able to absorb these. A more gradual shift from grain to the many natural foods gives time for this intestinal increase to occur and maintain body condition as they face the stresses of the new environment. All translocations can have stress brought about by travel, the foreign surroundings and the presence of predators. Any or all of these can change aspects of chemistry and /or behaviour that can be causes of poor survival. Monitoring the use of the feeders then will be of interest and will be performed at intervals.

The main monitoring though will be via radiotelemetry. Roll calls initially every day will be done by searching for the particular signal frequency of each duck. All going well and most ducks still present after a month this roll call will be reduced to a twice-weekly schedule. With more than one receiver, ideally three, monitoring for specific signal at nearly simultaneous times will enable the position to be deduced by triangulation. Volunteers previously trained at the Ark in the Park when introduced kokako had transmitters, will be called on again to assist.

Meanwhile the more than a dozen people directly involved in trapping will be keeping up efforts especially as January is one of the peak months for stoats.


PHOTO Stoat triplets [Ben Mitchell]

Funded by an Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund grant, our contractor Matt checks over 90 traps on his two circuits that include bush, wetland edge, & lakeside habitats. Although the efforts to install the large array of traps has been to enable a pateke translocation, hearing the many fernbirds and occasional bittern or spotless crake reminds us that other species will benefit also. One experienced observer heard three bittern one morning in late November. Another example is whitehead some of which had dispersed from the adjacent Ark in the Park project and were heard in bush parts of the circuit.

For more information see the facebook page: www.facebook.com/habitattehenga

If you would like to be involved, please contact John Sumich cjnk@xtra.co.nz