Hunting for the rare kokako
KCC member Thomas Grayson gives us his account of a very memorable KCC event.
South Auckland KCC’s kokako walk commenced on the chilly morning of the twenty-first of February, deep within the Hunua Ranges, Auckland’s largest regional park. The KCC group was brimming with excitement because we were going to see one of New Zealand’s rarest birds the kokako and not only that, Dave, the Ranger, guiding us around, was going to get a baby kokako and band it.
The Kiwi Conservationists met in the Moumoukai Hill Road carpark and the anticipation of the day ahead had grown with every member turning up. Until it was finally time to go through the locked gates and into the wilderness closed off to members of the public.
For the first five or so kilometres, it was all exotic pine forest owned by the logging industry until we finally hit native bush. We all got out of our cars and Dave explained what we would be doing that day. While we did this we passed round a past kokako nest and it was huge!
After that we followed Dave into the territory of one of the nesting mates and he said that he was going to get a chick from their nest and moved off into the dense bush. Ten minutes later he returned with a cute, fourteen-day old chick. He explained that the band combination on one of the legs was the year code for when they had been caught and the year code for 2016 was Red over the metal band which had their ID number on it then we were told we could choose the other bands and we chose red over lime. Now KCC have their own kokako!
Then we walked to Dave’s private hut. It was pretty steep going up there, but the views of the treasure Islands made it completely worth it. We also got to see a pair of kokako in their territory, but because of the branches and leaves it wasn’t the best view of them. But on the way back down we got to see one; this time our view was a lot better and our KCC leader was fortunate enough to be standing underneath it when it did a dropping! We were able to see these kokako because Dave had a really cool speaker with kokako recordings on it.
When we emerged from the track we were about to call it quits for the day but Dave, using his speaker called in a male kokako. He was a beautiful bird he had bright blue wattles and was quite big as well.
It was an incredible day and was a very special event to take part in and maybe we will go back one and see our KCC kokako and maybe by then it will have chicks of its own.