An update from amongst the kakapo
I’m now on Whenua Hou, Codfish Island, a few kms west of Rakiura Stewart Island, the island to the south of ‘South Ialnd, New Zealand. Whenua Hou is a very special place and I’m feeling hugely privelaged to be here. I’m condusting a two week herp survey with some wonderful co-workers, as the island has been pest free for more than a decade. It’s that pest free status and the quality of the podocarp forest here that allows Kakapo to survvie and thrive. Whilst the birds (still numbering less than 200) are well looked after by dedicated staff, they are able to live a wild and natural existence here without fear of predation by stoats, cats or other predators. It’s not just the kakapo that make this island special however. The absence of predators means that the forest birdlife is booming, the seabird colonies are thriving and our hope is that the reptiles that survived more than a century of predation may also recover. It’s slow going though, as the geckos this far south are probably breeding and growing very slowly, so it might be decades before the results are felt. Last night I had a magical vision here too: I was up in the pakahe shrublands on the tops of the island spotlighting for geckos as the moon was rising. Above swoop titi sooty shearwater, mottled petrels and Coooks petrels, warbling and squauking as only procellariiformes know how. With thin low cloud and a haze the moon looked amazing. I raised my binoculars to have a closer look and it’s yellow cratered image was covered in the swooping silluettes of distant petrels. It was an image that was so striking I’ll take it to the grave. A great day indeed.