However, to catch puweto on land, the net must be properly suspended above the water by using twisty ties, string, and stakes. Placed in naturally occurring tunnels among the raupo, and channelled with weed matting, this style of trap has proven the most successful to date, having caught four so far.
Once a bird has been caught, Emma bands it and attaches a transmitter to the bird’s back. They are so small that only tiny transmitters (the size of a jelly-bean) can be used – each lasting been four to seven weeks, and weighing less than a gram. Once the transmitter is attached, the bird can be released.
After that, Rose and Mark Lammas use the signal from the transmitter to refind birds. They follow each bird carefully for three hours a day in all weather conditions every day until the battery life on the transmitter has expired. To refind birds, Rose and Mark listen to the signal produced by the transmitter using a hand-held radio antenna.
Often the tracker gets within 10 to 15 metres of the bird, which usually stays out of sight in the dense lakeside vegetation. “It would appear one of the survival techniques of crake is that you can be right next to them and never know they are there. They can sneak across small open spaces without you seeing them at all,” says Rose.
The project was funded by the Living Water partnership (DOCFonterra).
Transmitters were purchased by DOC’s Arawai kakariki restoration fund.