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Kokako Log 1992 by Sid Marsh

Waihi Leader

JULY

A few weeks ago I received a letter from Gisborne-based Conservation Officer Dave King, who is involved in surveying what could be New Zealand's largest, most important, population of kokako. Here are some extracts from that letter:

'... I am also sending a copy of my territory map for the northern Urewera birds - all pretty self evident. Of the 30 pairs monitored satisfactorily, 19 pairs had juveniles (25 juveniles found in all but probably more). We are now doing a broader distribution survey over the whole of the northern Urewera. We are finding (more) birds and they too have juveniles .... if the kokako are going to survive on the mainland, the Urewera is the place it's going to happen. We are up to a body count of about 350 now ... we are worried about the rapid increase in possums in the forest.'

Meanwhile, back in the Coromandel forests, things are proceeding at a more subdued pace. In late April I was again checking out Vic and Alby.

24/4/92

0730hrs:

I am in the heart of the kokako pair's territory. Suffering from lack of sleep I rest my eyelids while lying down on a patch of dry rice grass. My day-pack serves as a pillow. Just as the sun's rays hit the uppermost branches a kokako 'Took-took-took' knifes through the still air. The bird is within 30 to 50 metres of where I lie but because of the tangle of plants, vines and trees, it might as well be a mile away. More tooking follows, then two mournful organ notes. As quietly as possible I get up and start threading my way through supplejack and around tree ferns. I home in on the bird sounds, while in another direction - to the east - some more kokako-like sounds are heard.

0753hrs:

Getting close now, I hear another set of 'tooks' followed by a couple of 'whines'. Suddenly from the eastern direction a dark shape of a crow-sized bird glides over the forest canopy, continuing on out of sight. Seconds later I sense that the kokako nearer me has gone too ... and sure enough, he has.

Notable flora and fauna seen: Within Vic and Alby's territory I happen across a kaka in a rata tree, feeding intently on nectar found in the red blooms. The kaka is a big bush parrot, olive-green with a crimson rump, a greyish-white crown and flecks of yellow behind each eye. From a distance of ten metres I watch this bird moving from one rata bloom to the next, nuzzling its massive beak into each flower and licking with its tongue. Kaka are now only rarely encountered in the southern Coromandel Ranges.