Funded by the Nelson Family (in loving memory of Mike and Jean Nelson), Nga Whenua Rahui, Wellington Zoo, Denver Zoo and Milford Rd Coffee Cat and Iron Ranger donations.
Supported by DOC Fiordland.
The first year of monitoring in the Murchison Mountains is underway with an initial survey being carried out at the beginning of 2019 (see monitoring results below).
This site is unique in the South Island and has been chosen for the following reasons;
i) there is an extensive trapping programme in the Murchison Mtns as part of long-term management and protection of takahe. This is in contrast to the neighbouring Stuart Mtns study site which have minimal pest control to support whio in a very few of the valleys. This site therefore provides a unique opportunity to understand how important trapping is to kea productivity (although the Stuart Mtns had one of the highest numbers of kea caught during the January survey (over 40 birds), only two of these were fledglings raising questions of predator impact on nesting success in this area).
ii) DOC Fiordland have expressed a keen interest in supporting work at this site through provision of staff for ongoing tracking of any radio tagged adult females during subsequent breeding seasons and provision of field staff during annual surveys. DOC field personnel are very experienced at getting around the Murchisons which will be a major positive for kea work. DOC will also be able to follow up on radio tagged females via skyranger flights normally only targeting takahe.
iii) This site will provide an additional training opportunity for local DOC personnel which will enable ongoing future monitoring of kea locally.
iv) Resightings of banded kea will be valuable for both sites and provide an idea of kea movement between sites.
Want to be a part of this work? Sponsor and name a kea!
Year 1 – Summer Survey-Catch Trip Results
Funded by the Nelson Family, Nga Whenua Rahui, Wellington Zoo, Denver Zoo and Milford Rd Coffee Cat and Iron Ranger donations.
From the 24th to the 31st January 2019, four teams with kea capture and handling experience, along with a mix of volunteers and Department of Conservation staff, surveyed 25 sites in th
e Murchison Mountains area, for kea.
Numerous kea were seen at most sites and flocks of up to 12 kea seen at some locations. A total of 88 Kea were caught during the trip (the largest number ever in one trip), transmitters attached to 10 adult females and bands were attached to all captured birds.
Additionally, one previously active nest was checked and the remains of 3 chicks at varying ages of development were found outside the cavity. Trail cameras that were deployed failed to capture the predation events but it is likely that a stoat visited this nest on 3 separate occasions and killed the chicks.
24 kea were also tested for lead poisoning. 2 males (a second year and an adult), returned levels above the accepted 20ug/dL.
Follow up monitoring
Follow up fixed wing (Skyranger) flights to detect adult female nesting activity and survivorship were carried out on the 11th February and the 4th May 2019. 9 of the 10 females currently with transmitters attached, were located and found to be active in February. One females transmitter was found to be on mortality mode (date indicating it had most probably been chewed off and dropped soon after attachment. This will be recovered during the next field trip). All 9 remaining females were found to be active during May.
Want to get involved? Name and sponsor a Murchison Mountains, Fiordland Kea!
We need more funding to help this project run over the next few years. With a donation of $500, you or your organisation can name one of our banded survey kea – to find out which kea you can sponsor, follow the link to our Name a Kea page.