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Published: October 18th 2010
Tiritiri Matangi (literally "tossed by the wind" in Maori) is an open island reserve (ie allows public access) where many rare New Zealand bird thrive. Tiri was originally home to a couple of Maori triebs the Kawerau-A-Maki & later the Ngati Paoa. During the mid 1850s European settlers arrived and since then the island was continually farmed until the 1970s. An army of volunteers have helped replant native species and create a series of footpaths allowing visitors to explore the island with minimal impact on the wildlife. It's also home to several researchers including one I met whilst ringing waders earlier this summer. She kindly invited me to join her as she showed an artist around the island which meant I got a brilliant tour of the place, a lot of it off the public paths, including seeing inside the Hihi nest boxes she hads to check.
We heard & saw many birds which are rare or extinct on the mainland including her study species the Hihi (Stitchbird), lots of Sadlebacks (Tieke) & a pair of the elusive Kokako. We also saw lots of the more common endemics, lots of Tui, Bellbirds (Korimako/Makomako) & a couple of flocks of Whiteheads
(Popokatea), although I still got excited by seeing these birds which are new to me & all seem to have wonderfully exotic calls! Non-passerines I saw include the Red-Crowned Parakeet, Pukeko (with their wonderful over-large feet!) & a few Takahe, another rare endemic.
We were also lucky enough to find a Tuatara! I was longing to see one of these in the wild whilst out here & within my first week my wish was granted! (I took a photo on Leila's camera which I will add it here when I get a copy). Tuataras look like lizards but are actually the sole survivors of an older group of reptiles - the Sphenodontia. The two Tuatara species are the only extant (living) members of the order Sphenodontia which thrived around 200 million years ago. Both specie are endangere, one of the them being confined to a single island in the Cook Straight (not the one I saw obviously).
We also found several Weta hiding in some of the nest boxes. Probably a spcies of tree weta, I'd need to do more research. Wonderful creatures, in the same group as grasshoppers & crickets. I saw Cave Wetas in Auckland museum,
they are possibly even cooler with longer legs & antennae!
I failed to see either kiwi species (as well as the Brown Kiwi some Little Spotted Kiwi have been introduced to Tiritiri) but since I was only there during the daytime this is hardly surprising. Hopefully I shall have more luck on Stewart Island when I get there....
Other than that I have mostly been pottering around Auckland, sxploring some of the small reserves (parks) near the hostel & enjoying the sunshine in the Parnell Rose Garden. Oh & I found the wool shop David, they were out of possum. I have her card & she can order some if you'd like?! (if Claire is reading this I think I know where Julians just been instructed to go in Auckland! Possum & Merino blend Claire 😊 Actually I'm planning to pop in again anyway to feel the stuff if I get time. Apparently it's lovely to knit with!
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