Fieldwork for a second Northland Kiwi Listening Blitz has begun, to enable Kiwi Coast to establish if the region's brown kiwi populations have expanded into new areas over the last five years.

Acoustic recorders, or Kiwi Listening Devices (KLD), are being used to listen in at sites all over Northland to track changes in distribution.

The Kiwi Coast Trust has committed to carrying out a listening blitz every five years to monitor changes in populations and distribution. The trust hopes that over time numbers will increase and expand into new areas in response to sustained pest control and improved dog control.

The first blitz was completed in 2016, and the second one, now under way, is due to be completed by July next year.

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Results from the first blitz detected kiwi calls at 31 of the 48 sites surveyed, with a mean calls per hour rate of 0.57.

Dr Karen Verdurmen and a field crew of NorthTec conservation management students began fieldwork for the second blitz in January, with sites on public land that were monitored in 2016 being the initial priority to date. A pre-survey map prepared by the Department of Conservation and Northland Regional Council had assisted with understanding current kiwi distribution, the location of previously surveyed sites, and the identification of potential new survey sites.

Kiwi Coast co-ordinator Ngaire Sullivan said the trust had expanded greatly since the last survey, with numerous new groups forming and linking in, so this blitz would need to cover a lot more ground.

"In 2016 we surveyed 48 sites, and thought that was a big job," she said.

"This time around we need to cover 160,000ha and investigate a whole heap of new sites for kiwi presence. It's great that communities and land owners are so keen to know if they have kiwi, and are happy to help establish new survey sites. As always, it's a huge team effort."

Survey sites, on both public and private land, were selected for habitat, land use, ease of access, and to fill the gaps in knowledge of kiwi presence in Northland. Existing human kiwi listening stations that were monitored every year as part of the Northland Kiwi Call Count Survey were excluded, as were known high kiwi population areas. Data from KLDs used in Northland last year to investigate kiwi presence at land owners' request had also been collated, and would help to avoid unnecessary re-surveying of sites.

The field crew was now starting to contact community group co-ordinators and private land owners with sites that looked promising for kiwi presence.

■ Anyone who would like a site to be established for five-yearly surveys is welcome to contact Ms Sullivan on (0274) 250-249 or ngaire@kiwicoast.org.nz

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