Tūmanako is about 4 weeks old and fledging will be any day now. (Collins Dictionary defines fledging as ‘ feeding and caring for a young bird until it is able to fly.’) Nest observations have stepped up a bit and today Kara, the adult female (Mum) seemed reluctant to enter the nest while she was being watched. So we left them in peace. We’d found out what we needed to know, a chick is still being fed.
Once Tūmanako leaves the nest, it will be almost impossible to keep track of her/him. S/he will keep close to mum and dad for a while but the batteries in the adult’s transmitters have already lasted longer than we thought they would and once they’ve died, all of the birds will be so much harder to find. Kokako are secretive, they’re not known as grey ghosts for nothing. So, we watch and learn while we can.
Another piece of good news is the possum we found under the self setting trap this morning. (Don’t look if dead animals upset you) The trap is an important part of the line of defence for the nest.
The common brushtail possum is one of the greatest threats to New Zealand’s natural environment. They were first introduced from Australia in 1837 to establish a fur trade and having no natural predators in New Zealand have proliferated.
From the Department of Conservation: ‘Leaves are the main part of the possum’s diet, but they are opportunistic omnivores. They eat buds, flowers, fruit/berries and nectar, which means they compete with native birds and reptiles for food sources. The growth and life-cycle of a tree or plant is significantly affected when all parts of it are eaten. Possums also have ‘favourites’ such as rātā or kamahi trees, leading to an even greater impact on these species.
In 1993, possums were filmed eating the eggs and chicks of kōkako and this evidence changed many people’s views of their threat to wildlife. They eat invertebrates, including weta, and are significant predators of New Zealand land snails such as Powelliphanta. They often occupy holes in tree trunks for their nests which would otherwise be used by nesting birds such as kākāriki and saddlebacks.’
So, sorry Aussies. In NZ, the only good possum is a dead possum.