Friday, January 16, 2009

Saving the Endangered New Zealand Brown Teal - What's happening out in the field

Author: Kevin Evans

Mimiwhangata, Northland from Emma Neill

* As at 07-Nov-05, 31 birds (14 ad F; 7 ad M; 6 juv F; 2 juv M; 2 unk sex juv) are fitted with transmitters. * Juveniles: 10 juveniles of the 2005 season have been radio-tagged so far, with more broods coming of age over the next two months. * Deaths: no deaths of the radio-tagged sample have occurred since the end of June 2005. * Breeding season: 25 breeding attempts recorded from 23 pairs, of those attempts, one nest was preyed on.

Okiwi, Great Barrier Island from Joanna Sim As at the beginning of November there are 54 birds fitted with transmitters (26AF, 12AM, 12JF, 4JM). Of these, 16 are missing which are a combination of suspected transmitter or battery failure and possible movement out of the basin. An aerial flight is planned soon to search specifically for these birds. James Fraser has been out recently to attach transmitters to juveniles and is also scheduled to come out for another transmitter attachment trip later this month to boost the numbers.

Two pateke with transmitters have died since July. Both birds died during the day but at this stage it is unclear what killed them. A duckling was seen in the claws of a pukeko in Okupu (further down the island) that had been decapitated - all birds have been sent off to Massey to ascertain cause of death. In addition 3 more un-transmittered birds have been found run over, one on Mabeys Road and two on Aotea Road.

At present there are no monitored females sitting on nests. Since July, there have been 7 failed breeding attempts, 2 unknowns and 6 successful nesters of which all still have broods. They range from 3 - 12 weeks old.

Monthly counts have been undertaken with increasing numbers at all sites recorded so far as post breeding females and juveniles move to these areas.

Craig has caught 25 cats for the months August - October & is continuing to survey & control for rabbits & pukekos.

Port Charles from Jason Roxburgh, Lettecia Williams, & Rebekah Caldwell

Predator Control: Since the last Roundup, the trapping has caught: * Kill traps: 2 Cats * Live traps: 1 Possum, 3 rats, 1 Banded Rail (in a cage trap) and... 14 Hedgehogs!

Monitoring: Since the May 19 release there have been 12 deaths of monitored birds (9 x 2005 released birds, and 2 x 2004 released birds). Of the 2005 released monitored birds there were: * 3 vehicle deaths * 5 predation deaths * 1 unknown death (found buried in creek) This means there are now 31 (78%) of the monitored 2005 release birds still alive. In late October we removed transmitters from 2 released birds due to transmitter attachment problems. Apart from that we've had no further transmitter or harness failures, so know the whereabouts of all the monitored birds

Breeding Season: There are a lot of almost fledged Pateke around, and several of the broods Rebekah has been following will fledge 100% of the ducklings hatched. Three nights spent out with James Fraser and dog Percy netted 34 birds. Twenty of these were fledglings, all of which were large enough to take leg bands, but only nine were large enough to take transmitters. This is part of a shift in our monitoring toward following ducklings through to their first breeding. Vehicle Deaths: A hazing fence has been erected to stop Pateke crossing the road from the release site into one of their favored feeding paddocks, forcing them to either fly over, or use the culvert under the road (see attached photos). This has meant there have been no vehicle deaths on that stretch of road since the fence was erected. Negotiations continue with the District Council to replace the two culverts under Carey Rd.

Rebekah and Lettecia continue to advocate strongly with residents and visitors about Pateke, especially asking people slow down and be careful while driving. As mentioned above, we continue to have vehicle related deaths, though the numbers are reducing around Port Charles.

TiriTiri Matangi from Barbara Walter

It is hectic here so many visitors so it is great that they get to see Jemima and Ossie at the Wharf Dam. We were on leave when the last round up was done. April time nearly all of our dams were dry and apart from Jemima and Ossie at the Wharf Dam and Finn at Lighthouse Valley Dam most of our ducks disappeared One of our males, Ralph from the N.E. Bay Dam was sighted Gulf Harbour Golf Course Dam. As the dams filled our teal were all seen again (this is of our monitered pairs) including Ralph seen at Gulf Harbour. Wharf Dam Jemima and Ossie 31.8.05. 3 ducklings which disappeared 4 days later. They take them up to Wattle Valley at nighttime instead of taking them a short distance to the short grass area. She is now sitting again. Lighthouse Valley Dam Finn and Britannia 19.9.05 she appeared near the Bunkhouse Dam a long way from the L. H.Valley Dam, with 2 ducklings. Finn was on the dam with another female.Two days later she was back with Finn on the L.H.Valley Dam but no ducklings. Fishermans Bay Dam Daisy and Ruan Nil happening. Daisy getting older ?Ten years old. N.E. Bay Dam Connie and Ralph Connie sitting at present, due ? 24. 11. 05. Bush 21.Dam Rose and sometimes Ralph! Nil happening she is also ?Ten years old Bunkhouse Dam Finn and 2other females! So we have Finn and Ralph sharing their favours! We have had 2 other males on the Bunkhouse Dam but Finn chased them away.

Brown Teal Conservation Trust from Neil Hayes

A pretty satisfactory breeding season so far, with two broods reared - one of five and one of seven. Five hatched and reared by our old pair and seven hatched and reared by our new pair, in their first season - this pair having been flock-mated in the BTCT's new aviary. This is the aviary built with financial assistance from the Pacific Development and Conservation Trust. The BTCT is hopeful that Massey University will soon find a student to work on the brown teal diet research programme in 2006. Sue Moore has already done much work in this area and further applied research into brown teal diet will provide vital additional information at specific key sites - and information necessary for survival of the species - and for the critical evaluation of proposed release sites for captive reared birds.

Fund raising to assist this research is ongoing and we take this opportunity to thank all members and supporters who have contributed to the research fund.

Our good friend, Janet Marshall - New Zealand's leading waterfowl artist - has generously offered to paint brown teal, especially for the BTCT to use as a fund-raising exercise. Initial thinking is that we should produce a BTCT promotional greetings card from the painting and then to either auction or tender the original. This is a magnanimous gesture and we are extremely grateful to Janet. We will keep you informed of developments.

Karori Wildlife Sanctuary from Neil Anderson

Late August saw 2 new clutches on the Taylor Wetland and lower lake but survival has been low with only 3 of 7 and 1 of 5 respectively, coming through.

In October 2 clutches appeared on the top dam and with one of these at least survival has been once again low with only 1 of 5 still around. This is however something of an achievement for this pair who are notoriously poor parents having lost every member of their previous 2 clutches. The other hatch was 6 from a previously very successful pair adjacent to the creeks at the south end of the dam. The female and ducklings have not been seen for a while however but the indications are that she may have taken them back up into the creeks where her previous clutch was raised. The male meanwhile has stayed on the dam having paired up with a new young female.

Elsewhere, our most successful pair on the top dam would appear to be nesting once again as are the lower lake south end pair whose juvenile has recently fledged. A new young pair has formed at the north end of the lower lake and may well have started breeding. If this is the case this will signify a distinct new territory which will bring the number on the lakes and wetlands up to 6, a likely maximum carrying capacity for these areas. We have recently picked up another pair at the south end of the valley which contains some excellent habitat but as yet have been unable to identify them.

Other individual birds continue to come and go in the regularly monitored areas of lakes and wetlands with some birds not being seen for many months at a time, there being plenty of opportunity to secret themselves away from view. The 3 juveniles fitted with transmitters continue to be picked up although only one is regularly seen in person.

We have recently begun to reduce the amount of supplementary feeding provided in our main breeding territories and it will be interesting to note any alteration in productivity or visibility.

About the author: Kevin Evans is the New Zealand Brown Teal Captive Managment Coordinator / National Brown Teal Recovery Group member , webmaster and owner of for news, information and resources about this critically endangered species with less than 1000 left in the world.


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