Editorial: Robin's song testimony to effort (+ video)

By Mark Story

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The opening line of our story on the endemic robin release snared me instantly.

"For the first time in 50 years, robin's song has returned to the Maraetotara Plateau".

'Twas music to my ears; like someone had righted a wrong.

This week a pair of toutouwai - North Island robins - were the first birds to be released as part of the Cape to City project.

Local ecologist Dr John McLennan described it as a "very significant moment" and went on to say he was stoked to have the opportunity to "restore wildlife".

That's why these endeavours are so worthwhile. Unlike others of history's now extinct species which, like the dinosaur, were chosen by nature for extinction, this bird's disappearance was all down to us.

I'm unashamedly enamoured with our native and endemic birds. Compared with the annoying introduced species of mynah, sparrow, blackbird et al, which are all interlopers, I've been known to stare at a bellbird or tui for hours in my garden.

They have an intangibility about them. To boot they're friendlier and have such sonorous song.

I also suspect it's because, as one ages, one tends to appreciate history more. By wanting the world and its ecosystem to be what it once was, maybe it's me simply pining for the days of old and clawing back the clock.

Nevertheless, the robin, like all endemic birds, is undoubtedly a national treasure. Experts say its song differs subtly but noticeably between the dawn and evening chorus.

Its translocation is the first of its kind for Cape to City, a $6 million collaborative initiative involving 26,000ha between Hastings and Cape Kidnappers and from Waimarama south to the Kahuranaki forest remnants. There's aspirations to capture and translocate an additional 28 robins to the Hundred Acre Bush during the next several months.

We owe much to those who put in the hard yards to preserve our heritage - $6 million is well worth it.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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