Banding Weka

Banding Weka

 

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An un-banded weka is given a health check.

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Its weight is recorded.

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Each bird has a unique collection of bands.

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The beak is measured.

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Plumage is checked.

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Bands are carefully fitted.

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Annual Weka Counts: 2015

Annual Weka Counts: 2015

Weka surveys at Kawakawa Bay and Orere Point 2015 

by Ian Southey

Weka counts to monitor the population at Kawakawa Bay have been carried out since 2005 and this year we carried out the 11th count. The three main counts at Kawakawa Bay were on March 28th, April 11th and 18th, with a final count on May 1st to complete five counts that had been missed on the main counts.
Since 2012 we have conducted a single count at Orere Point which was done on April 25th but due to a shortage of people only one count site, rather than usual the two or three, was done on Richardson’s block. Weather was generally good for all counts so the results should be fairly good.

Kawakawa Bay

This year 67 Weka were recorded, 48 positions with 18 pairs (38%) and 31 singles. It should be noted that counts are approximate and there is scope for some underestimation, especially when birds are close, and some for over estimation when birds, far from observers, are not placed accurately.

The numbers have clearly improved since 2014 when 42 Weka called from 35 positions and only in 7 of these did they call as pairs (20%). This is a 150% increase in numbers overall and, more importantly, two and a half times as many pairs were present. Interestingly several observers recorded apparently single females calling which suggests that the number of pairs, and hence the potential productivity of the population could increase still further before the next breeding season.

There is a wide scatter both pairs and singles throughout the core block but there is clearly a higher density of birds in the same places more birds were recorded in 2014, especially between Te Papa Road and Tuturau Bay. Within about 500m of the coast there were 10 pairs and 9 single birds recorded in this stretch. Weka numbers remain low behind Tawhitokino Beach but have picked up a little to the south.

Orere Point

Weka numbers at Orere Point (6) were similar to the previous count in 2014 (5) but included two pairs this time rather than none in 2014 so this can be regarded as an improvement too.

2015Orerecount

Discussion

After two years of drought Weka numbers at Kawakawa Bay fell from a high of about 130 birds recorded between 2010 and 2012 to just 42 in 2014. Fortunately the early prediction of a drought in 2015 proved inaccurate and although January was particularly parched rain began to fall during February and increased through the autumn. This seems to have helped the Weka at Kawakawa Bay survive so that numbers (67 birds) have increased to about the levels we saw in 2007, the third year of counting, rather than becoming perilously low as we had expected.

During the period we have counted Weka they have expanded to Orere Point where there now appears to be a small, perhaps stable, nucleus of birds in the town with some in the hinterland between there and Kawakawa Bay. These birds may have increased too but with fewer counts and fewer birds recorded it is harder to be sure. Like the population at Kawakawa Bay there seems to be more birds, and perhaps more pairs close to the coast, and especially near the houses, while the numbers of backcountry birds have fluctuated much more. These hill country birds may in fact be the edge of the Kawakawa Bay population as there is not always a clear connection to the Orere Point birds.

At present we have a situation where Weka seem to do best close to people although the extent of bush adjacent to the houses may also be important. At present it does not seem to be a coastal effect as there are many fewer Weka along Tawhitokino Beach where they have been quite common in the past but numbers fell dramatically and they do not seem to have increased yet. This shouldn’t be regarded as a definitive conclusion as the areas are small and the count methods are crude. These are the places where the bulk of the Weka population survived during the drought, where recovery is most advanced and the dispersing juveniles will presumably bolster the hill country birds and aid further recovery.

Acknowledgements

I am grateful to all of the people who turned up to help, especially the experienced ones who now seem to know what they are doing. It is hoped that the people who came for the first time will return as experienced counters next season as we still have trouble completing the workload.

The following people have helped with the counts this year. Joyce Frost, Ian Southey, John and Rosemary Cotman, Janie and Kevin Vaughan, Gillian Vaughan, Linda and Noel Knight, Barbara and Helen Kay, Trish and Graeme Simmonds, John Oates, Phil and Nova Coory, Gerry Romley, Warren Turnwald, Ans Bloem, Ralph and Miranda Davidson, Tony Beauchamp, Mags Ramsay, Nathan Cox, Tony Habraken, Haylee Wilde, Denise Moyle, Ruth Matheson, TaymarieYorston and Michelle Hollings.

Our local hosts deserve thanks for dealing with the logistics, and particularly Rosemary and Trish for hosting the debriefs. We are especially grateful to the landowners who allowed us access to count on their land.

Newsletter June 2014

Newsletter June 2014

2014 June news letter.pdf - Adobe Reader

In this newsletter:

2014 June news letter.pdf - Adobe Reader

Our secretary resigns
The Weka Watch picnic
Our AGM and Graeme’s talk
2014 counts
Our banded birds and others
Our trap lines
Talks to kids

Farewell to Barbara and thank you.
The committee has regretfully accepted Barbara Strong’s resignation from the position of minute’s secretary. Barbara has supported WekaWatch from the start (early 2009) and is the only secretary we have had. She was a trapper for a time with her husband Noel and she still wants to be involved in our counts. Thank you Barbara for all your work!
We are very fortunate that Yvonne Taylor, one of our local members and a long time resident of Te Papa Road (weka territory), has agreed to step up and fill this important role. Thank you Yvonne!

Annual picnic
28 of us spent a wonderful summer evening at the Coory’s lovely home, enjoying the chatter, a glorious sunset, and the bird life including a weka of course. Thank you Phil and Nova!

AGM and talk.
The business of our AGM was over in record time thinks to the remarkable skills of Kevin our chairman, so we were able to move very quickly into the highlight of the afternoon, the talk by Ann and Basil Graeme- Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs- reintroducing North Island Weka.
Basil introduced the rail family and explained the links with our weka. Then Ann talked of their vision back in 1989 to reintroduce North Island weka to different parts of the mainland North Island. Their struggles and successes were fascinating to hear about. You can read more on the website http://www.wekawatch.co.nz/latest/
Special mention was made of Elaine Staples, an early volunteer weka breeder who travelled from Paeroa to attend the meeting. She recorded her experiences in a series of newspaper articles in the local press. You can access these on http://www.ohinemuri.org.nz/wekawatch/weka_frames.htm.

2014 counts

A full count report is on the website by clicking  this link   Weka counts 2014    but in summary

• We covered the 11 sites in our core area in 3 nights, only one of which was spoilt by wind.

• We also got to Orere on a fourth night.

• The number of weka counted in 2014 was very much lower than last year which in itself had seen a 25% drop from 2012. We guess that this drop (130 to 99 to 42 over the 3 years) can be blamed on the two successive years of drought. The number of pairs too was low.

• Numbers at Orere were also down and no pairs were heard.

• The low call numbers were either because the birds were not there, or they were lacking the energy or too busy foraging to call.

 

Our banded birds and others
Yorica the doughty female banded in February 2010 has changed partners again but has stayed in much the same area. In 2012 Wilson came off worst in a territorial fightshe spurned Boy, her partner of 3 years, for a younger bloke, Wilson. Wilson has recently moved territories and was seen about a month ago bearing severe scarring on his head (see photo) and Yorica has taken up with an even younger chap, George (he is the son of William and Kate, and grandson of Lizzie and the Duke but that is another story). George bears no scars so we assume the fight between the two males was very one sided. The good news is that now, a month later, Wilson is bearing a full head of feathers!

 Our trap lines

Thank you again to all our trap line volunteers. The 110 Doc traps are visited at least monthly and the data on captures then saved on a computer; data loading is far less fun than retrieving the successes in the field.
4 ferrets, 2 stoats and 1 weasel, along with 46 hedgehogs and 76 rats makes a good start to our war against predators in 2014.

Orere near the dairy

New signs

Last letter we reported on our new pictorial signs. We said “The wheels of Council seem to grind at the same rate as those of God, but after more than a year of negotiating, our Council contact Michael ….”
We now have two yellow diamonds at Orere Point – magnificent! Thank you again Michael! (See photo)
But there is also a lengthy saga of a yellow sign fixed to an old power pole on the Coast Road. When the pole was replaced the sign was put back facing in the wrong direction. How to get it reversed? A direct approach to Vector did not work – the pole job had been done by subcontractors from Hamilton and as no one was without electricity it was not a Vector problem.
Once again Michael came to our rescue. He found that the chain of communication involved us, him (=Council), Vector, and finally Auckland Transport because it is a road sign!!! It would have been easier to souvenir the sign and start from scratch, asking for a new one. Thank you Michael for your efforts over 6 long months! The sign now faces oncoming traffic on the Coat Road as it should.
But there is also a lengthy saga of a yellow sign fixed to an old power pole on the Coast Road. When the pole was replaced the sign was put back facing in the wrong direction. How to get it reversed? A direct approach to Vector did not work – the pole job had been done by subcontractors from Hamilton and as no one was without electricity it was not a Vector problem.
Once again Michael came to our rescue. He found that the chain of communication involved us, him (=Council), Vector, and finally Auckland Transport because it is a road sign!!! It would have been easier to souvenir the sign and start from scratch, asking for a new one.

Thank you Michael for your efforts over 6 long months! The sign now faces oncoming traffic on the Coast Road as it should.

Year 3 Everglade School sponsored a trapPublicity
Our weka story is always being spread far and wide.
Ian Southey presented a paper on our project here in Kawakawa Bay to a discerning and critical audience at the annual conference of the Ornithological Society of NZ. His analysis of 9 years of results has led to some interesting discussion in committee as to where we go from here. Rosemary and John tackle the younger fry. Firstly it was 75 Year 3 pupils at Everglade Primary School, a large but very attentive group, who made a donation of $50 to WekaWatch. One of our DOC traps will bear their photo and a note to say they are the sponsors. Rosemary and John also spoke to 11 members of the St John Clevedon Youth Division who are doing an environment badge. One youngster summed up the night with glowing eyes “We got to kill the rabbit 9 times!” Our demonstration Perspex-topped DOC trap is a winner every time!
Subscriptions
The annual subscription is just $20.00 per household.
If you have not yet renewed your subscription for 2014, or should you want to join us, you can pay on line. Our ASB account number is – 12 3031 0137652 00. Please be sure to tell us who is paying and send us your contact details.
Alternatively make cheques out to: WekaWatch Kawakawa Bay Inc
Our mailing address is: WekaWatch Kawakawa Bay Inc, C/- Kawakawa Bay Post Centre Kawakawa Bay, 2138
You may choose to add a donation to your membership. Your added support is greatly appreciated. We are a registered charity and donations over $5.00 qualify for a rebate from the IRD. If you need a receipt please be sure to email us your postal address.

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Remember that as well as your subscription we welcome your physical support, especially at count time in the autumn.

Email us on wekawatch@paradise.net.nz
Phone 09 2922 512
Visit our website www.wekawatch.co.nz

 

WekaWatch Kawakawa Bay Inc.

 

February 2014

 

 

 

For more information, or if you have any weka sightings, please contact us at

wekawatch@paradise.net.nz or ring 2922512

 

 

  Our banded birds

Our newest trap line 34 traps are out on the Richardson’s property.  Thanks to George Richardson and his quad bike with trailer which made the setting out so much easier.

  The line consists of three spurs running down from ‘the trig’ – Mataikokako 355 m – so checking this line involves a good walk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lila Holden, our youngest WekaWatch member, is getting bigger and she still takes her weka watching very seriously!

   

 Weka Killed on Kawau Island There was a lot of publicity in the papers over the trial of a dog owner on Kawau Island.  He was found guilty of two charges of allowing his dogs to enter a reserve on the island and kill 14 endangered weka, – a charge that carries a maximum penalty of three years in jail and/or a $20,000 fine.  Kawau Island is home to more than a third of the North Island weka population. North Island brown kiwi are also found on the island, and both species are vulnerable to dog attacks. It was interesting to learn that with the advances in DNA analysis it may soon be possible to determine the breed of a dog that has inflicted injuries on a bird.  Should anyone find a dead weka that may have suffered a dog attack, before handling or moving  the body in any way please phone 2922 512 and let us know.  We have been given instructions on what to do to maximise the chance of getting reliable DNA samples from any tooth imprints on the carcass, evidence that might stand up in court. 

WEKA RECORDERS’ LAMENT 

No feathers, no beaks, no brown button eyes,

No banded legs spotted at all.

But we know they’re still with us, we’re not telling lies.

We’re deafened by loud weka calls!

Annual Weka Counts: 2014

Weka count nights. Several evenings every autumn are given over to counting the weka  mainly in our core area from the boat ramp to Tawhitokino Beach. This has now expanded to include other areas of interest due to identified Weka calls and sightings. These occur around sunset usually on a Saturday night.  Dates and times are posted here on the website .  The counts are weather dependant – wind is a particular problem as it may be louder than the wekas’ calls! It is a great chance to meet other like-minded people.  There is always a get together for a debrief afterwards. We meet at the WekaWatch notice board near the Kawakawa Bay dairy.      The times vary according to the time of sunset.          

2014 Weka Counts

This makes for interesting reading. Click the link below.

Weka counts 2014

 

 

Trials, tribulations and triumphs – reintroducing North Island Weka

A summary of the talk given to the WekaWatch AGM on 29th March 2014

Basil and Ann Graeme have always loved weka with their feisty personalities and fascinating behaviour.  In 1989 they had a dream, to reintroduce North Island weka to areas of the mainland where they had been numerous in earlier years but had now disappeared.  It had been thought that the severe decline in their numbers, a 90% loss in the Gisborne area over the 1980s alone, had been due to drought, habitat loss and disease.

They knew that relocating adult birds did not work because weka have a strong homing instinct and as soon as they are released they head for home. One adult released in the Waitakeres in 1980, for instance, was found 3 weeks later in Taneatua in the eastern Bay of Plenty, heading for its home in Gisborne.

It was thought that relocating juveniles might be better and so the Graemes, with the support of the Department of Conservation and Forest and Bird, set up a captive breeding programme with about 15 breeders.  Some pairs happily started producing chicks but in other cases the pair of weka did not like each other and refused to perform.

The Karagahake Gorge was chosen as a suitable mainland release site as there was plenty of bush in the area, it was close to the Kaimai Ranges, and had never had a drought.  A pre-release aviary was built and the young birds transferred to it.  After a few weeks, trapdoors were opened allowing the weka to move out into the bush and to return when they wanted to.  For a time this seemed to be a success and weka were heard calling in the surrounding area; but there was a neighbour with a dog.  If a weka went onto this property the dog killed it.  The solution? The Graeme’s bought the dog and advertised it in Tauranga. “Free to a good home, friendly family dog, kills weka and chickens”. Problem solved they thought.

There were more Karangahake releases but they found these weka were being killed by ferrets.  There had been a ferret fur farm nearby and when it failed the owner just released the animals to the wild!

So a decision was made to release the young weka onto islands where the predator problem would be very much less.  In 1996 birds were successfully released onto both Whanganui Island in the Coromandel Harbour and Pakatoa.  Pakatoa is just a short boat ride from Kawakawa Bay and our birds have a strong DNA link to these weka.  Perhaps they were brought here when the weka on the island became too numerous.  We will never know for sure!

The first confirmed weka report here in the Bay was in November 2004.  Knowing that weka are so rare on the North Island mainland, our birds here in the Bay are national treasures.  We must do everything we can to protect and enjoy them.

Annual Weka Counts: 2013

Weka count nights. Several evenings every autumn are given over to counting the weka  mainly in our core area from the boat ramp to Tawhitokino Beach. This has now expanded to include other areas of interest due to identified Weka calls and sightings. These occur around sunset usually on a Saturday night.  Dates and times are posted here on the website .  The counts are weather dependant – wind is a particular problem as it may be louder than the wekas’ calls! It is a great chance to meet other like-minded people.  There is always a get together for a debrief afterwards. We meet at the WekaWatch notice board near the Kawakawa Bay dairy. The times vary according to the time of sunset.                                                                                     

2013 Weka Counts

Our annual weka counts took place over several Saturdays last autumn.

  • It was the 8th year for the 11 core count sites behind Kawakawa Bay and Tawhitokino.
  • We were keen to repeat our 2012 surveys of the Richardson property (our new trap line) and Orere Point.
  • We are now getting regular reports of weka, either sightings or calls further south and with enough counters we could even cover Tapapakanga.
  • As the weka expand their reach, our need for counters expands as well.
  • Do encourage friends and colleagues to join us for at least one night; remind them it is a fun social occasion  as well as vital help in the protection of an endangered native bird.
  • All beginners are paired with an experienced counter. Prior experience is not necessary.
  • Usually we meet at the Kawakawa Bay Dairy.

When we do our counts in autumn we may have some cool nights  so we normally take: warm clothes and a back pack, something to sit on, at least one torch, (the LED headlamps are popular) a charged cell phone if you have one, a watch, a pencil, insect repellent, snacks and drinks if you need them.   You will be provided with  a small safety kit on the day. These are great nights and quite an experience to sit in bush and listen for Weka calls.

Those Te Papa Road weka babies and other news

B/Y and Y/R – Boy and Yorica –  are being seen most days in Te Papa Road with their latest family, their third for this breeding season.  The juveniles are brown and fluffy and about half the size of their parents.  The ‘teenagers’ from the second family are still around but their father chases them off if he can.

Tony Beauchamp was here for three nights over the first 2011 count and was successful in banding some more of the unbanded birds in Te Papa Road, bringing the total of new band combinations for us to watch for to 6 (5 of these juveniles from this season), and the grand total of banded birds to 18.  Of those banded a year ago  about 6 have wandered off and are no longer being seen.   We are keen to hear of any weka with coloured leg bands being seen anywhere in the Kawakawa Bay area.

Two reliable reports from the wider area. 

A weka crossing the Kawakawa Orere Road close to Cashmores Number 1 Bridge.

A couple from Orere Point whio have had a weka in their garden, and so know what they are looking at, saw two groups of weka totalling 6 birds near the second cattle stop on the raod into Tapapakanga Regional Park, at about 1.30 p.m.  has anyone else seen thses birds??

A brief report on our AGM

14 members attended our short but interesting AGM on Saturday 9th April.  Chairman Peter King’s report on our activities in 2010 was well received and we reluctantly accepted his decision to resign as chair after 3 years.  We are delighted to welcome Kevin Vaughan as our new chairman and look forward to working with him, especially the ability to tap into his long record of involvement in a variety of other conservation groups.  The AGM was followed by another successful weka count on a perfect windless autumn evening.

More chicks in Te Papa Road

Boy (Blue/Yellow) has been seen on more than one occasion with three small chicks, possible about a week old.  This is his scond hatching of the season, having had two chicks earlier with Yellow/Red (Yorica).  Y/R has not been seen with the new family but we can assume she is the other parent.

A lone young unbanded bird has been seen in the road at two other properties over the last week;  this could be a juvenile from one of the two early hatchings in the road.

Our logo

Our logo

(our logo)

We are very excited about our logo which was developed for us by the Howick College Art Club under the guidance of teacher Lars Gabel.