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What’s Happening on the Hill?

This year we celebrate 25 years of ecological restoration in the Windy Hill Sanctuary.  Beginning with a 100 rat traps in a tiny 20 HA patch at Windy Hill in 1999 we now manage pests in partnership with 58 landowners on 16 properties over 800 HA.

The Sanctuary is back in full swing after a really challenging year last year. New Field Manager Jordan Scarlett leads a team of four in catch up mode suppressing rats, mice, and feral cats as well as clearing tracks and monitoring species. Cyclone Gabrielle gave our east coast a hiding with trees still down everywhere.

There’s always lots of interesting stuff going on in the background of our Sanctuary:

Henry Cookson is currently working on a contract with his dog Chase to find kaka nests in the Sanctuary for a Landcare Research Kaka Dispersal Project. The aim is to locate 10 accessible nests with birds pre-fledged so they can be banded for ID and fitted with transmitters to track their movements.  A banded bird from Glenfern Sanctuary turned up in Hamilton a few years back!

Henry Cookson and his dog, Chase.

Black petrel and Grey-faced petrel are being filmed coming and going from their burrows in the Sanctuary. Its always fascinating to see what else is about at night. Cameras are a useful tool as they capture much of the unseen bringing a more realistic expectation to the suppression of pests. 

Black petrel burrow

Birds are quieter after a busy nesting season though some late rail chicks are about. I’m hearing the plaintive call of the Long Tailed Cuckoo in my garden – they lay their eggs in Whitehead nests which are unfortunately extinct on Aotea. Their cousins, the Shining Cuckoo, lay their eggs in Grey Warbler nests and are abundant on Aotea from September/October each year before returning to the Solomon Islands or New Guinea for the winter.

In March, Dr Kevin Parker will return to Hirakimata to band as many of this seasons juvenile North Island Robins as he can capture. This is the third annual survey of robins Kevin has undertaken thanks to funding from Aotea Great Barrier Local Board- his chances of capturing birds this year will be improved as the DOC team have been feeding meal worms to curious robins as they have been servicing the rat traps on Hirakimata. Pre-feeding means that robin territories and pairs of birds will be more easily found.

Words from Judy Gilbert, on behalf of Windy Hill Sanctuary Trust

As always, Thank You to our funders:


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