Dawn Chorus - Tiritiri Matangi chorus/Dawn Chorus 93.pdf Dawn Chorus Bulletin 93 ISSN 1171-8595 May

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Transcript of Dawn Chorus - Tiritiri Matangi chorus/Dawn Chorus 93.pdf Dawn Chorus Bulletin 93 ISSN 1171-8595 May

  • Dawn Chorus Bulletin 93

    ISSN 1171-8595 May 2013

    Invasion of the geckos Another 90 Duvaucel's geckos settle on Tiri

    Discover Bushy Park: new home for our hihi

    Making music with the saddlebacks

  • www.tiritirimatangi.org.nz 32 Dawn Chorus 93 May 2013

    As we, the Supporters of Tiritiri Matan- gi, approach our 25th Birthday, it is worth a moment of reflection to con- sider the huge amount that has been achieved since we were formed in Oc- tober 1988.

    In almost every aspect of our opera- tions, we have gone from strength to strength. The testimony of our long- term members and plentiful photo- graphic evidence show how the input of highly motivated volunteers, guided for much of that period by Ray and Bar- bara Walter and staff from the Depart- ment of Conservation, has transformed a 'big paddock' into native bush alive with some of New Zealand’s special plants and animals.

    Our success is also shown by the an- nual visitor numbers which have risen from about 13,000 in the early 1990s to over 30,000 in recent times.

    It might be expected that member- ship of the Supporters would have in- creased in line with increasing visitors, but that seems not to be the case. Over the past four or five years we seem to have plateaued at about 1,600 to 2,000 family memberships.

    It is plain that our members are vi- tal to our continued success. From their ranks we recruit guides, shop workers, weeding teams, volunteers on plant, an- imal and infrastructure projects and, no less important, members of our various committees. Our members also contrib-

    ute funds via their annual subscriptions and generous donations, which last year made up one third of our total income.

    Managing renewals will soon be made easier when a new membership database and payments system is put in place. It will be integrated with our website and will allow new members to join and existing members to renew their subscriptions, to make donations and to update their personal details.

    We need all the members we can get and we need to keep those that we have. So, please renew your membership, safe in the knowledge that you are making a vital contribution to one of New Zea- land’s iconic wildlife projects.

    John Stewart

    From the chair

    SoTM needs a strong membership so it can keep up the good work

    As you’ve probably no- ticed, this issue of Dawn Chorus looks a bit differ- ent, signalling the arrival of a new editor.

    I'm taking over from Simon Fordham, who has been putting this maga- zine out for seven years, doing a magnificent job. On behalf of you all I'd like to thank him for his wonderful contribution. I'll do my best to build on what Simon has created.

    The different look is partly because I don’t have Simon's expertise with the layout programme. But it’s also because I come from a different background.

    I’ve worked in newspapers for over 50 years, most of that time as an editor, running community newspapers like Gulf News on Waiheke, regional news- papers such as the Bay of Plenty Times, business publications like National Business Review and the business sec- tion of the NZ Herald and, most recent- ly, the Herald’s Travel section.

    In that time I’ve become ingrained with what I think of as old-school jour- nalism: real news, good stories about

    people, eye-catching photos and simple lay- outs. So that's what I've tried to offer.

    My wife Chris and I have been conservation- ists, and members of SoTM, Miranda Natu- ralists’ Trust and Forest & Bird, for many years, but until I retired last year didn't have much time to contribute.

    Now we’re not only able to see more of our five grandchil- dren, but I’ve also been able to start ed- iting Miranda News, begin training as a kokako monitor and now take over the reins of Dawn Chorus.

    I've got lots of ideas about what I'd like to do with Dawn Chorus, but I have learned over the years that a pub- lication has to provide what the readers want, not what the editor thinks they should get. So I’d welcome any feed- back on the magazine. I’ll also be grate- ful for any ideas for articles and any of- fers of stories and photos.

    And I look forward to meeting you on the Island in the near future.

    Jim Eagles

    Smoothing the way to birding heaven The Wattle Track is now a much easier walk for the less agile or those with pushchairs, with a 70m stretch being realigned on to an easier grade with no stairs, and then concreted.

    The section upgraded runs from the platform at the track's Wharf Rd en- trance as far as the stitchbird feeder.

    It’s an area that has always been prone to water damage and difficult to maintain during heavy rain. Because of its steep grade it also had a lot of wood- en steps which were difficult for some visitors to negotiate.

    The crucial work was done by a working bee of a dozen volunteers over Easter. About 45m of the old stepped boardwalk had to be removed, which was not an easy job. The track had to be realigned to run along an easier grade. And of course it had to be boxed and metalled.

    The concrete is due to be poured shortly, making the track not only more accessible but also much easier to maintain.

    Ray Walter

    Change of conductor for Tiritiri Matangi's Dawn Chorus

    Cover photo of Duvaucel's gecko by Chris Wedding

  • www.tiritirimatangi.org.nz 32 Dawn Chorus 93 May 2013

    Barbara Hughes gathers half-a-dozen pupils from Te Kura Akanga O Ma- nurewa around a table scattered with leaves, humus and dirt and gets them checking it out with magnifying glasses.

    'There’s a little spider,' shouts one excitedly. Another points and asks, 'Is that a worm?' 'No,' Barbara says, 'it’s a millipede.' 'Oh,' shrieks a small girl. 'What’s that on my hand?' It turns out to be a baby praying mantis. A bigger boy takes the tiny insect and lets it wan- der over his hand while everyone looks.

    Meanwhile Barbara is asking the kids, who’ve come to Tiri to see birds, why they think she’s got them studying a pile of dirt. The answers are quick to come. 'Because the trees grow in it.' 'The birds eat the insects.' 'Without the dirt nothing could live here.'

    Considering these youngsters have been on the go since early morning, and have already spent three hours learning about nature, they’ve still got plenty of energy and enthusiasm.

    But then Barbara, who started work in January as the Island’s educator, has spent most of her life doing this sort of thing. She’s been teaching science, biol- ogy and horticulture for over 30 years.

    A guide on Tiri for 18 years, she has also been interested in conservation 'ever since I can remember. Growing up on a South Canterbury farm meant we were very aware of the environment. I know there can be conflicts between farming and conservation but that doesn’t alter the fact that when you live on a farm nature is all around you.'

    Those interests came together in 2003 when she won a Royal Society of NZ teaching fellowship to study four species of native birds. This developed into a project to translocate one of them, tomtits, from the Hunuas to Tiri. 'The actual translocation succeeded but unfortunately the retention didn’t.'

    Still, Barbara was inspired to write a book, Mr RG the Adventurous Tom- tit, about a bird she found back home in the Hunuas, 56km from Tiri, nine weeks after he was translocated (it’s on sale in the Island shop).

    All of that, she says, made the posi- tion as Tiri's educator 'the ideal com- bo'. It involves, she says, building on the work of Barbara and Ray Walter – 'who guided me with my schoolkids in the nineties . . . I still have the notes' – and continued by many others. And it's all about developing programmes which give children an understanding of the environment but at the same time keep them enthusiastic.

    That's why, if you walk up the Wattle Track when there’s a school on the Island, you may be startled by the sight of brightly coloured finger pup- pets perched on the plants. 'It helps teach effective observational skills and native tree recognition,' Barbara ex- plains. 'But probably more importantly it keeps their minds off lunch and how sore their feet are when there is still a bit more walking to do.'

    So how is it working out? One of the kura teachers gives a forthright answer to that question: 'Fantastic.'

    Making education fun

    Kids' programme launched on Tiri Tiritiri Matangi has been chosen by the Department of Conservation to launch its Kiwi Ranger programme for chil- dren in the North Island.

    Kiwi Ranger activities are already available at 10 sites – mostly National Parks – in the South Island.

    At each site youngsters can pick up a booklet of activities and do the ones that appeal to them. These can include weather forecasting, recording bird sounds, designing a conservation sign or using information panels to answer questions. Participants receive a differ- ent badge for each site.

    The plan at the moment is to launch the programme on 1 June. It will be available both to school groups and to families.

    Special winter fares for Supporters 360 Discovery is repeating last year's offer of a special Supporters' rate for trips to Tiri between 1 June and 31 Au- gust.

    Supporters will only have to pay $38 for adults and $20 for children from Auckland, $22 and $14 from Gulf Harbour. Please note that this of- fer only applies to members of SoTM and immediate family – t