Robin Release at Glenfern Sanctuary

The previous releases have yet to produce a resident population - Glenfern tries again.

by Emma Cronin

On Thursday 19th April 2012, 25 North Island Robins were released at two sites within Glenfern Sanctuary following a superbly successful collection trip based at Pureora Forest.

Nine people from Windy Hill and Glenfern Sanctuary participated in the collection of the robins over four days. Pureora has a large and successful population of north island robins, from which successful translocations have occurred in the past. Birds were previously ‘pre-feed’ by volunteers from Maungatautari (who were also collecting birds for a translocation). Pre feeding involves clapping your hands to attract the robins then throwing them mealworms to feed on. The birds quickly associate the clapping with food and will come quickly in. The birds were enticed into ‘clap traps’, which are specially designed mesh nets that are triggered by blowing down a tube to release the catch which drops the net onto the feeding robin. The males and juveniles were more easily captured than the females, who tended to be more wary. Some birds proved quite elusive, and were difficult to entice, remaining high in the canopy, chasing one another or were preoccupied with territorial singing.

Once captured, birds were transported via small black cloth bags to Paul Jansen and his father Bill, who banded, weighed and measured the birds. Birds were placed into cardboard ‘cat transport’ boxes and tenderly cared for by Karen Walker for the duration of the field trip. We were fortunate in having Maungatautari assist with our bird collection, however within our Barrier team, the partnership consisting of Judy Gilbert and Kerstin Meub captured the greatest number of robins.

The birds had the longest trip of their lives, via van from Pureora to Hamilton (kindly assisted by Kate from DOC Pureora), then via sponsor Great Barrier Airlines, who flew the field team and birds to their new island home.

Rodney Ngawaka provided a moving powhiri at the Claris airport, prior to birds being transported to their respective pest-controlled Sanctuaries. At Glenfern Sanctuary a welcoming crowd from the local community assisted with the release, again led by Rodney Ngawaka.

We gratefully thank all the people that have supported this event, and particularly would like to extend our appreciation to:

• Windy Hill for organising the translocation and facilitating a successful and enjoyable week – a sign of things to come! May our birds prosper.
• Paul ‘Scratch’ Jansen for his superb organisation, extensive knowledge and great stories! We hope you recover quickly Scratch. Much thanks also to Bill for all his help – we’re lucky you were there!
• Kate McKenzie from DoC Pureora who came to the rescue when Scratchs’ plans changed.
• Karen Walker for all her loving care of our birds – you do an amazing job.
• Amelia Geary from DOC GBI, for your support and participation for both Sanctuaries.
• Great Barrier Airlines for their continued support, and assistance with chartered flights for this occasion.

You are most welcome to come and visit Glenfern Sanctuary and assist with locating and feeding the newly released birds. We are monitoring the birds to determine what habitats and territories they are establishing, in the lead up to their summer breeding season.