Just off the coast of the Whangaparaoa peninsula to the North of Auckland lies Tiritiri Matangi Island – a conservation haven for endemic New Zealand bird and reptile species. The island had been used for grazing by cows until the Department of Conservation took it over and rid it of mammalian pests – over 250,000 native plants were then planted on the island and the rest is almost history and a success story of giving endangered birds a chance of survival as species.
You can see the Saddleback (with its brown saddle-back and bright red wattles) bouncing through the undergrowth (they can fly) and the Kokako up in the trees (it eats leaves!) which is a gorgeous shade of grey with bright blue wattles and has a truly haunting song. Both of these birds are weak fliers which explains why they are so prone to mammal attack of their nests – especially from public enemy number one – the possum. They have strong legs though!
I was privileged to see a young Takahe here (which doesn’t yet have the bright red beak) – you may remember earlier posts where I told you just how threatened their population is with around 250 birds left in the world…I think I have now seen 8 of them in different locations. Apparently its older brother is doing a better job of raising it than Mum and Dad!
The Kereru (wood pigeon) also lives here and crashes through the canopy with its huge bulk! The island is also home to NZ’s smallest bird, the Rifleman (which I didn’t see on this occasion) and the Stitchbird (or Hihi – with its black and yellow plumage) which are also both endangered. The less threatened Tui and Bellbird are also present and enjoy the nectar that is supplied – because the bird population is so successful that there isn’t actually enough natural food for them all!
Enjoy the pictures…and hopefully I will go back and have more to show you in future…