An intensive listening survey for Northern Fiordland brown kiwi (Fiordland tokoeka) on the Kepler Track circuit has detected at least 35 individual kiwi living in the area.
The November survey, lead by tutor Patrick (Paddy) Stewart and 27 students from Tauranga Polytechnic, set up 15 listening stations around Mt Luxmore tops, and a further 6 listening stations in the Iris Burn Valley.
24 kiwi in total were heard calling about Mt Luxmore. Of these, 16 were male and 8 female. A further 11 were heard in the Iris Burn Valley; 7 male and 4 female. “There are likely to be more kiwi in the Iris Burn” Mr Stewart noted. “The effective listening range from ground level stations such as the ones used in the valley, means they are less effective than from higher points”.
The Kepler Track area is the ‘backyard’ for the majority of Fiordland’s residents. Until the Kepler Challenge Committee initiated the Bird Song project on the Kepler Track in 2006, the area was largely overlooked in terms of biodiversity protection.
In setting up the trapping project along the entire length of the track (60km), the Kepler Challenge event has raised the public awareness of the importance of the area.
“The Kepler Track is one of the few easily accessible places on New Zealand’s mainland where you can still hope to hear kiwi”, said biodiversity ranger Pete McMurtrie.
Also attributed to the success of the Bird Song project in raising public awareness, is the noticeable increase in sightings of native bats around Te Anau township. Monitoring has shown they have originated from the Kepler Track area and teams are currently working to locate their roosts. This work, generously funded by Distinction Hotel, through the Fiordland Conservation Trust, will help the wider ‘Kids Restore the Kepler’ project locate sites for more intensive rat control.
“The Bird Song project is founded on community spirit and cooperation”, Steve Norris, Chair of the Kepler Challenge Committee said. “The number of people involved in checking traps, maintaining the boxes, providing the bait and the transportation of volunteers all adds up to a huge community effort. The findings of this survey are the result and everybody involved should feel very proud“.