Last week on Our Changing World Graeme Kates from the Arthur’s Pass Wildlife Trust showed Alison Ballance a whio and introduced her to the Trust’s stoat trapping work. Later the same day, just as the forecast rain began to fall, Graeme and Alison joined Nic Menary and Gerald Bruce-Smith for a night outing in the hope of hearing a local great spotted kiwi called Oscar. Oscar had been holed up during the day incubating an egg, but as Nic explained he was wearing a smart ‘chick timer’ transmitter that relayed his activities over the previous 14 days, as well as in preceding 10 minutes, so the team hoped they would get some warning of his emergence. The team talk about their motivation for being involved in this community conservation programme, and how kiwi come right past houses in the village as they forage.
A number of great spotted kiwis carry transmitters as part of the Trust’s regular kiwi monitoring, however they have recently been told that there will be no more funding for intensive monitoring so they are likely to revert to call surveys at night to get an indication of kiwi numbers.
Stoat trapping has been so successful at Arthur’s Pass that great spotted kiwi chicks are left to fend for themselves in the wild. In many other kiwi populations chicks are removed as part of Operation Nest Egg, and held in a safe location until they are large enough to be ‘stoat safe’ when they can be returned to the wild.
News from the Arthur's Pass Wildlife Trust is that Oscar and partner Dagmar's egg died an early embryonic death, but nonetheless Oscar devotedly sat on it for 54 days before abandoning it.