Tiritiri Matangi Island
Tiritiri Matangi Releases 1987 – 2002
There are about 30 brown teals on Tiritiri Matangi Island, in the Hauraki Gulf. Brown teals are not yet a success story on this open sanctuary, but their numbers are gradually increasing.
There had been a minor release of six brown teals on Tiri in 1987 and more were brought in on 8 July 1990 for a public release. ‘Air-raid shelters’ were built on some of the dams to protect the ducks from harriers. These were essentially camouflaged roofs, jutting out over the water, for the ducks to hide under. The teals had been reared by Ducks Unlimited, a conservation and hunting group that focuses on improving wetlands for game birds. (Although brown teals are now protected, they could be hunted up until 1921.)
The teals bred well at first and within three years the population grew to about 40 birds. One night there were 16 teal carousing outside the Tiri bunkhouse. But many ducklings were being predated by both eels and hawks, particularly after DOC ordered the removal of the air-raid shelters because they considered them untidy.
Furthermore the young males were leaving the island because there was no suitable gathering place for them, so that each dam on Tiri had a resident and lonely female, but only one male remained on the island. The recently completed wetland area at the northern end of the island, should remedy this. This wetland contains the largest bodies of water on the island, with
1000 sq m and 875 sq m of water behind two dams. Brown teal were seen o the ponds in 2004.
When seven more teals were released in 2002 by the captive breeding program, several were quickly killed by hawks. Nevertheless, the breeding success in 2003 was better. Some males divided their attention between females, appearing daily at a different dam. Most of the teal are named, and ‘Finn the Philanderer’ has often featured in soap opera-styled reports on the ducks in the Tiri Supporters’ newsletter, the ‘Dawn Chorus’.
The wharf dam is the first stop on the guided walk on Tiri, and visitors love seeing the shy little ducks swimming across to say hello. Having been captive-reared, the brown teals are tame, and many remain so because they are hand-fed each day, as a way of monitoring them.”
The book gives scientific data on the flora and fauna of the island, with detailed descriptions of the twelve protected or endangered species released there so far: these include takahe, saddleback, kokako, brown teal, stitchbird and tuatara.
The book is lavishly illustrated, with rare historical photographs and magical bird studies.
Published 2004, by Random House NZ, Auckland. (152 pages, landscape format, 210x268mm.)