Monday, September 8, 2014

Rare Black Stilt / Kaki Release, Glenmore Station, Mackenzie Country

Tues 02.09.14. Pierce Pond, a Glenmore Station wetland by Lake Tekapo, off Godley Peaks Rd, we watched 55 rare black stilts / kaki being released. Black stilts are raised in captivity at the DOC Breeding Centre near Twizel.

DOC staff, volunteers, members of the public, girl Guides from Geraldine & school groups from Waituna School & Lake Tekapo School attended the release. DOC staff laid the black stilt, release boxes in a line by Pierce Pond then school children simultaneously released the black stilts.

With excited chirping the 2-9 months black stilts flew up in groups, then flew around the wetland looking for feeding & nesting sites. DOC staff had already laid plates of food on grass around the wetland. Staff said they would return periodically to feed the black stilts & check on them.

Each black stilt had an aluminium ring on one leg for ID & research purposes. DOC staff said only about 30% of black stilts would survive predators like feral cats, stoats & hedgehog egg thieves. Black stilt eggs are brown with dark green speckles. Without culling predators, DOC was dumb supplying stilt snacks for predators. The wetland fence was predator proof, but that didn't stop black stilts nesting & breeding elsewhere, in wetlands around Lake Tekapo, below Two Thumbs Range in the east & Stevenson Range, Gammack Range & Hall Range in the west.

A DOC info sheet read: 

Black stilt / kaki  - Rarest wading bird in the world - population fluctuates - generally around 80 adults. Once found throughout NZ but now only in Mackenzie / Waitaki. Lay 3-4 eggs. Feed on mayflies, caddis flies, midges, water boatmen, snails & small fish. 

DOC staff said black stilts were at The Cairns golf course in Lake Tekapo town. I walked around The Cairns golf course many times, but saw no black stilts there. Paradise shelducks & mallards yes, but no black stilts.

Coda: July-Sept 2016, when we lived on Mt Gerald Station, NE end of Lake Tekapo, we saw adult kakis foraging in shallow, fast running waters by Coal River delta, which joined waters flowing from Mt Gerald streams & McCauley River & Godley River waters flowing into Lake Tekapo. On Mt Gerald Station wetlands, DOC staff placed predator traps to catch weasels & stoats.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Black stilt / kaki (DOC)

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