Date: 20 April 2012
The Department of Conservation with the help of Fiordland College students have released eighteen South Island robin/kakaruai at the Cleddau River Delta, Milford Sound.
This is the second of two robin transfers to bring back the birdsong around the Milford township and restore the forest to its former glory. The latest transfer was necessary to ensure good numbers for establishing a population, and follows the first transfer of robins to the site in March 2011.
Robins had disappeared from the Cleddau Delta until DOC and the Fiordland Conservation Trust initiated three years of successful pest trapping sponsored by Eco Tours & Cruize Milford which has now provided a refuge for native species such as robins.
The day was supported by three students from Fiordland College who joined DOC staff to collect the robins from the nearby Eglinton Valley.
The Eglinton Valley has an intensive pest control programme allowing native bird populations to flourish, allowing DOC to source birds for transfer into other areas like the Cleddau Delta.
The students helped staff entice the robins to the forest floor using mealworms and then caught the robins using hand nets. From there they were transferred in boxes to the Cleddau Delta forest and released the same day.
“It’s such a satisfying part of conservation work when we can return a once abundant species such as the robin to Milford” said Biodiversity ranger Lucy Rossiter. “It is a testament to predator control efforts which wouldn’t be possible without support from community groups and businesses such as Eco Tours & Cruize Milford“.
It is hoped that visitors to Milford Sound will be able to enjoy the benefits that predator control provides and enjoy seeing and hearing the new feathery residents as well as other native bird species.
The Department welcomes information regarding sightings of robins with coloured bands on their legs to get an idea of where birds have dispersed following the transfer.
- South Island robins were once widespread throughout Fiordland National Park and are still common in some eastern areas. It is likely that rats and stoats caused local extinction in the Cleddau catchment.
- During September 2007 work began on a project to control introduced animal pests in a 40 ha area of coastal forest covering the old Cleddau River delta at Milford Sound.
- The pest trapping and first robin transfer in April 2011 was sponsored by Eco Tours & Cruize Milford - a tourism operator running guided coach journeys between Queenstown, Te Anau, and Milford Sound and cruises of Milford Sound.
- This project compliments wider stoat control programmes maintained by DOC and other businesses and community members in the Milford-Cleddau area, and is part of the larger Clinton/Arthur/Cleddau whio (blue duck) security site.
Gerard Hill - Biodiversity Ranger
Ph: +64 3 249 0200