Watching out for the weka
Here is the link to the story published 3oth August.
It’s great to know that the ‘word’ is getting out there.
Here is the link to the story published 3oth August.
It’s great to know that the ‘word’ is getting out there.
Sheila our 2 year old female weka (green over yellow – metal) had been paired with Tipene (metal- yellow over red) for almost all her short adult life. She was a good mother producing young up to 3 times in a season. She was one of just 3 adult females in a breeding pair in the area we monitor so she was 33% of our breeding female stock.
I have said “was” as she has fallen victim to a badly placed rat snap trap.
She was seen on Thursday morning 12th July with the upper part of her beak badly damaged, so much so that she was unable to pick up items of food like oats. This meant that without help she would be unable to forage and would eventually starve. It took 4 days to get her into a capture cage.
We took her to the NZ Centre for Conservation Medicine attached to Auckland Zoo. If anyone was going to be able to repair the damage they were the team to do it. The report came back that the injury was “not salvageable” with severe damage to the tissues inside the beak as well as what we could see on the outside. Sadly the decision was been made to euthanise her.
The only way Sheila could have received this injury was in a snap rat trap placed within her reach.
It is vitally important that any rat trap is placed in a situation totally out of reach of a weka, places like a roof space or a high shelf in a garage.
On the ground outside is absolutely the wrong place.
Please ensure that all your families and any visitors who might use your property get this message.
If troubled by rats please use Racumin poison baits that are pet and bird safe. Trial packs are available from WekaWatch (phone 09 2922 512 or 09 2922 221) for $11.
This was clearly road kill and illustrates how important it is for us all always to take care when driving along the Coast Road or in Te Papa Road where there are often weka near the road.
Charlie was one of our longest lived breeding weka. Banded in June 2014 as a sub-adult weighing 960 grams, he has been seen around the Te Papa Road area in the years since. The day before his death he was seen carrying nesting material; he was a very important breeding bird. His unbanded female partner may take some time to find a new mate. At autopsy Charlie weighed 1280 grams; he was well fed and popular.
You can see more photos of his visit on his Facebook page.
While having coffee before he headed off for his next appointment Tipene came out to greet him.
The weka also seem to be doing well. We still have at least 4 active pairs in the Te Papa Road valley, perhaps 5. The next valley to the east is Whitey and Tui’s patch and over this breeding season they have raised 7 young. There are reports of breeding further to the east too so while we humans complain that this has been a lousy summer it seems to have suited the birds.
We are coming up to autumn and that means not only our annual weka count but also our AGM. We have a couple of vacancies on the committee, not for trappers or counters but for people who might have a couple of hours a month to help with some admin tasks. Our meetings are short and infrequent! And you do not have to know anything about weka! If you feel you could help us in this way please get in touch.
We want to acknowledge the significant support for our work from local businesses and Auckland Council. Thank you to Hunting and Fishing Botany for sourcing and supplying our trail cameras; Safeworx Papakura for supplying our hi viz vests and organising the printing; Resene Takanini for supplying our test pots of paint for the weka flock; JB Hi Fi Botany for the discount on the SD cards for the cameras. Then there is the support we receive from Auckland Council – Franklin Local Board for the generous grant that partly paid for the cameras and the vests, Auckland Council Biodiversity for baits and traps, Auckland Council Biosecurity for advice and support, Manukau Beautification Charitable Trust for so much help with the weka flock.
That is quite a list and we are so grateful to them all. Without them and their help our job would be so much harder.
If you want to have a weka on your own fence or gate please let us know. You can paint your own ($5) but we also have some ready painted or we will even try to paint one in a colour scheme of your choice! Those ones cost a little more. All funds go to help us save our weka.
Contact us at www.wekawatch.co.nz or phone 2922 512 or 2922 221
For more photos of our weka and lots of other things go to our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/wekawatch.co.nz
Here on the West Coast of the south island we are lucky to have plenty of these cheeky birds around – not a day goes by without seeing at least several! With the exceptionally mild winter we had – we even had families of young ones during June and July. But one in particular has been of interest. It was one of this year’s chicks, and started off ‘normal’ with brown and black feathers and dark beak and legs, then one day it looked like it might have had something on its head – on closer inspection it appeared to have a few white feathers on its head – well the photos say the rest .
Its original tail feathers are all gone, and new tail appears to be growing back completely white – “Google” tells me it’s a lack of melanin and not uncommon in birds – but it’s not every day you see an almost white weka and I thought you might be interested. Guessing from the way it’s changing – I wouldn’t be surprised if he/she ends up totally white.
White feathers are seen on weka associated with injury of the follicles (after the feathers and underlying structures are damaged?) The white feathers appears to be appearing on head which is moulted at about 120 days and the tail (which should not be replacing unless the feathers have been pulled out in scraps). They may revert to normal colour in a following moult.
[In this bird] the soft parts (bill and legs) are all lacking colour as well.
Weka on the South Island west coast appear to throw white weka every 5 years of so. The genetics behind that has not been investigated
Tony Beauchamp DOC
WekaWatch volunteers will be highly visible as they go about their work from now on. Thanks to our grant from the Franklin Local Board and amazing help from Safeworx Papakura we now have these amazing vests for our trappers, counters and others.
Here they are being used for the very first time as two volunteers head off for trap line work.
Brooke lives in the upper North Island where there is a very good population of our favourite bird. Up there though, the very nature of weka that endears itself so much to us, causes some irritating, pesky behaviours.
Brooke wrote… “Hiya I’m from Russell and, like you, love our environment and native wildlife but we have a weka issue where we live. They eat our growing tomatoes, pull out all our lettuces (and everything else in the garden) eat all our chicken food, kill our baby chicks, pull all our washing off the line and poo all over our deck. Anything I can do to deter them without harming them? Thanks.”
Brooke’s issues are common where weka and humans live in close proximity. Similar issues arise with pukeko’s. There are some things you can do, if not to eliminate the issues entirely, at least to reduce them a bit. Here is what our Chairwoman has to say.
“I am not sure that after living with weka for 12 years I can answer all your queries but I will try. What follows is my personal opinion.
There is a real problem with weka. They are by nature curious and omnivorous so that interactions between weka and humans can sometimes be a problem. It is the things they do because it is in their nature that makes them the bad boys in the bush in some people’s eyes. You are so lucky in in Russell that your weka population seems to do so well. Here in Kawakawa Bay we have had some downs in numbers and work hard to keep predator numbers down and get the people living in the area aware of weka and their endangered status.
In your garden, you may need to have some sort of barrier fence – chicken wire or that orange mesh around the plot or put a mesh tunnel over the small plants. We do have one weka here at our place that tries to predate a small cactus we have in a pot but we are not planning to eat that! One solution to the pulling up the plants is to give up gardening altogether but clearly you do not want to do that!
Neighbours here with chickens do not let the chickens free range until after they have been fed. Once the cage is open the weka are allowed the leftovers. At least that way you do not have left over food attracting rats!
As to your baby chickens – not sure what the answer is there. We have a good number of Californian quail in our valley and we have seen weka occasionally take a tiny baby. But if they did not take the babies probably local cats would do it. We never feed our weka close to the house so they rarely come on the deck. But a bucket of water over fresh poo seems to work for us. We always provide plenty of water, again as far from the house as possible, in containers big enough for one or more weka to bathe in it together. Would you like to continue this discussion with me through our email email@example.com ? Good weka watching! Rosemary”
“Here is a bird full of good qualities and whose vices lean to virtue’s side. Personal valour of a high order. An undying thirst for knowledge…..An affection for its young that would face the Prince of Darkness in their defence. And above all, an intelligence apart from what we call instinct, far higher than I ever saw in a bird.”
Charlie Douglas, Explorer, c.1899
In June 2016 the idea of a mural of weka painted on a wall of the main toilet block in Kawakawa Bay was tabled at the Kawakawa Bay Community Association meeting. It was met with approval.
With the blessing of the KBCA the idea was then put forward at the next Franklin County Board meeting. The Board members were keen on the idea and we were told to fill out an application for funding under the Manukau Beautification Trust.
A local artist, Louis Rawnsley (https://www.facebook.com/louisrawnsleyartist/) was asked if he would like to be involved. He was enthusiastic about the project.
Once WekaWatch was given the go ahead and the wall was scrubbed down, Louis finished the job in under a week, already for the summer holiday makers to see and enjoy! It looks stunning.
The children at Kawakawa Bay Kindergarten have been very busy painting weka silhouettes to add to the growing flock around the Bay.
It is the ambition of WekaWatch to bring the plight of our local birds to the attention of the community in a bold and beautiful way. We hope to see people taking up the cause, and by making a small donation, have their very own weka to paint and display either in their own gardens or on their letter boxes in the bay.
Stunning weka displays, seen in various places around the bay will also bring the weka to the attention of tourists visiting our beautiful beaches.
At the annual “Saints and Angels” children’s party held at the Kawakawa Bay Community Hall on October 30th 2016, the first of the birds were available for the children to paint.
And some of the other children with their birds.
The WekaWatch noticeboard, situated by the shop was vandalized recently – the glass front broken. Some of our members have removed the noticeboard and have repaired it and given it a facelift.
WekaWatch would like to give a special thank you to Eric of Eric Glass Repairs, (Phone 2922 133 ) located at Orere Point, for donating his services and the glass, to reglaze the front of the noticeboard.
The new noticeboard, with more weka news, has been re-installed this week.
At long last Cheeky Charlie and Charlotte have produced a weka chick, as per attached photograph. Usually weka have a clutch of 2-5 cream coloured eggs with dark brown blotches. Incubation by both parents takes 25 or 26 days. Its highly likely this pair hatched more than one chick but the rest were taken by predators.
Weka have been very quiet in the Bay of late but…
We have had this new message from Debbie & Steve who live further along Coast Rd. They have reported weka chicks and here is evidence.
This is Tane, Whitey and Suzy’s first chick for this year, now in his adolescence.
Debbie and Steve have also seen Whitey and Suzy mating again already so maybe some more to come yet.
Thanks guys. Awesome news.
We thought they were relatively safe there but it is clear that our predator control programme is not enough to keep our breeding birds safe. While keeping up our intensive trapping, we must deal with all the other known threats especially as the birds will face food restrictions over this coming El Nino summer. The population is now so small that even the loss of one or two birds will make a huge difference to keeping our threatened weka here in the long term.
What WekaWatch would like you to do . . . . . . .
Please contact WekaWatch if you: