Staff at Pukaha Mount Bruce were excited in late October last year with the arrival of the first whio (blue duck) to be hatched there in over 15 years.
The only one of four eggs to hatch, the duckling was raised with three other ‘exotic’ ducklings. The duckling’s mother was then put on another clutch of eggs and with hopes for a better hatch rate from the second clutch.
Staff are still unsure of the sex of this first whio. At approximately six months old a male whio will whistle when picked up and a female whio will grunt.
The Wairarapa breeding programme is going very well at Pukaha Mt Bruce. The Shore Plover programme has hatched 22 healthy chicks so far this year with five pairs now sitting on their third clutch.
The two pair of pateke are nesting again having so far successfully reared 12 ducklings between them.
The whio pair has three ducklings and there are three juvenile kiwi in the creche nearly ready for release as well as a kiwi chick hatched on Christmas Eve and one kiwi egg externally pipped and will hatch any day.
One red-crowned kakariki pair have three chicks to look after while another pair are waiting for their five eggs to hatch.
Wild kaka have this year utilised three of the nesting boxes with one pair already fledged and another three chicks not far behind.
Pukaha has been looking at a wider range of options for predator control in the reserve and the surrounding buffer zone. Then thanks to a generous donation from Pub Charity, they were able to purchase a number of A24 self resetting stoat and rat traps.
You can check them out at www.goodnature.co.nz
The initial consignment of traps are for their buffer zone provided by the Greater Wellington Regional Council and are also near the aviaries at the Visitor Centre. This February they will be rolling out these devices into their ‘front face’ to supplement the current DoC 250 traps.
The total number of rats caught in the 12 month period September 2014 - September 2015 in both the reserve and buffer zone was 1530. The number of mustelids (weasels, stoats and ferrets) was 104.
Pukaha are continuing to look at innovative predator control techniques and will keep supporters updated on progress.
Concrete, concrete and more concrete was the order of the day when the footing was laid for the new free flight aviary. The construction was underway thanks to the teams at Rigg-Zschokke Ltd and Higgins Contractors, The team at Puckaha Mt Bruce were hoping that all going to plan they are aiming for an opening date in late February 2016.
26 chicks were raised with some released at Waikawa and some at Motutapu. Four remain at Pukaha to continue with the breeding programme.
18 ducklings from the two breeding pairs at Pukaha. These were sent to the pre-release site, Peacock Springs near Christchurch, before they are released into the wild.
2 male and 1 female ducklings hatched and reared by a pair at Pukaha have been sent to the pre-release site at Turangi. 13 ducklings were hatched from eggs collected from wild sites and of these 9 are male and 4 are females. They will remain at Mt Bruce Pukaha.
A great day out at Ruatiti Domain on the Manganui a te Ao River where we released 12 captive reared Whio, 7 females and 5 males. We had a good turn out with school children, Iwi, Horizon councillors, land owners, two Orana Park staff who released one of the Whio they had raised, a film crew and Doc staff, interested visitors and Anne and me. The Whio were reared by staff at Peacock Springs, Orana Park and Mt Bruce.
Eds note: The Manganui a te Ao River starts on the western flank of Mt Ruapehu and flows westward through forest and steep hill country north-west of Raetihi, Waimarino County, Taihape and then joins the Wanganui River. The name means - stream; great; of; the; world.