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Weka meet mixed fortunes

Five weka were released a few days before the April flood and shortly afterwards we had a report from a Mackaytown resident, who, with the aid of binoculars, was able to identify leg band colours on a weka in her garden.

It was one of the weka released a few days earlier.

Around the same time, another Mackaytown resident reported hearing two weka calling. It would be interesting to know when these birds crossed the river.

Late in April, a weka researcher spent several days trapping weka in specially designed cages, using cheese as bait. As a result, we learned of the whereabouts of a number of released birds and also that there were more wild-bred chicks.

The news is not all good, though. In recent weeks, three female weka have been killed and we were devastated to find that one met her death in one of our rat traps, despite it being set in a specially made box.

We learned from this disaster just how far a weka can stretch its neck. Females are in short supply at present.

In a recent week we released nine birds, only one being a female and she, unfortunately, has also been killed.

Joe, our resident wild weka since October 1992, has a new "girlfriend", Elsie. She was one of the first two chicks hatched in the programme, actually being hatched under a bantam.

She was transferred to Kaitaia for breeding, but failed to do so and was brought here for release, which we did in February, after unsuccessfully trying to pair her with Tarzan, our crippled weka.

Tarzan is now "courting" Kohiri, feeding her with the best morsels, so he's obviously happy again.

Our breeding pair, following their disastrous episode with a rat, attempted nesting again but, once again, it appears that a rat may have disturbed them. We found two abandoned, fertile eggs. The war against rats continues.