For the two staff that are working full time on Brown Teal, one based at Mimiwhangata, and the other based on Great Barrier Islans, daily life revolves around making sure the birds are still there, safe, breeding.
Sounds easy doesn’t it, but did I mention they are nocturnal, so you are doing a lot of this in the dark. We also do not like to distrube or handle them unless absolutly necessary.
Instead, our work involves lots of radio tracking, heaps of walking around, and plenty of patience.
Here’s some of the things that we do:
Throughout the year we keep an eye on the birds from a distance, using radio tracking technology.
Using a special radio receiver that picks up signals from a radio transmitter attached to each bird, we work out the approximate position of each bird every 7 days.
In between times, we do a quick ‘Dead or Alive’ check to make sure the bird is still moving around – a sure sign that it is still alive!
In the breeding season, we increase the frequency of this monitoring to once every three days.
It requires long hours of patient searching, and means we soon develop an intimate knowledge of our birds and their hang outs.
“Nearly every little thing we do during the year is gearing us up for a breeding season, knowing that if it occurs we will be incredibly busy”.
After locating the birds using radio tracking technology and/or tracking dogs, we check their radio transmitter is comfortable and replace its batteries, if necessary.
We also weigh the birds, check their moulting condition, take blood samples, check for parasites, and sometimes take their temperature.
All that information is loaded onto a national database, which allows us to track and compare the life history of each individual bird and to build up a picture of the species.
Brown Teal are almost biological refugees in their own land, doomed to an exile on predator-free islands for the foreseeable future. Those that do exist on the mainland are under constant attack from mammalian predators, stoats, cats, ferrets, etc.
Just to keep them safe, we need to constantly safeguard our Brown Teal areas from the threat of predator invasion