Three of our group (Nikki, Sussie and Annette) have just returned from a week on Cuvier Island, helping mistnet Saddleback (tieke) for a transfer to Cape Sanctuary near Napier.
|The bird's journey, from Cuvier Is to Cape Kidnappers|
|N I Saddleback in mistnet waiting processing|
At the start of 20th century N I Saddleback were extinct on the mainland and found on only one island - Hen Island. Cuvier Is was one of the first islands they were translocated to, in the 1960's and now has a very healthy population.
The plan was to transfer up to 120 birds over 2 weeks, but the Saddlebacks were so numerous and the weather so good that 120 birds were caught in three and a half catching days, and the whole operation was over in a week. They had great weather but it wouldn't have been so good the following week when there were gales and torrential rain.
|A bird receiving its bling|
|After banding a sweet drink was welcome (sorry the image is on its side, can't seem to correct it)|
The birds were transferred by helicopter in 2 trips, but Annette and the others had to travel by boat. There is a steep track between the sea and the house where the lighthouse keeper used to live (which is now used for accommodation) and so the down side to this speedy conclusion was that after carrying gear and food up for 2 weeks, they then had to carry much of it down again although there was only half as much and the going was down hill.
|The birds being loaded ready for the longest journey of their life|
Surprisingly, although Saddlebacks are plentiful, there appeared to be quite low numbers of the other native species. Birds that are present such as Bellbird, Red Crowned Parakeet, Grey Warbler, Fantail and Morepork were few in number and there were only about a dozen birds caught as bycatch. There were some large flocks of Silvereyes, but even Blackbirds and Finches were comparatively scarce.
The link below shows a video of the birds being released, great to see so many young folk involved.