Conservationists have made huge efforts in the past four years to reintroduce wild kiwi into Northland bush, and just how successful their efforts have been will soon be heard.

Fieldwork for the second Kiwi Listening Blitz has started, as Kiwi Coast investigates if Northland kiwi have expanded into new sites over the last five years.

Acoustic recorders or kiwi listening devices (KLD) are being used to listen in to sites all over Northland to track changes in kiwi distribution.

Kiwi Coast Trust has committed to carrying out a "Kiwi Listening Blitz" every five years to monitor changes in the population and distribution of Northland Brown Kiwi.

Advertisement

Over time, it's hoped kiwi numbers will increase and expand into new areas in response to sustained pest control and improved dog control, Ngaire Sullivan, Kiwi Coast co-ordinator, said.

The first Kiwi Listening Blitz was completed in 2016, and this second blitz is under way with the aim of being completed by July 2021.

Results from the first blitz detected kiwi calls at 31 of the 48 sites surveyed (65 per cent) with a mean calls per hour rate of 0.57.

Dr Karen Verdurmen and a field crew of NorthTec Conservation Management Students got started on the fieldwork for the second blitz in January. Sites on public land that were monitored in the first blitz have been their priority to date.

A pre-survey map prepared by the Department of Conservation and Northland Regional Council has assisted with understanding current kiwi distribution, the location of previously surveyed sites, and identification of potential new survey sites.

The call of the wild kiwi is being listened to in Northland to see how more widespread the native birds are in the region.
The call of the wild kiwi is being listened to in Northland to see how more widespread the native birds are in the region.

Kiwi Coast has expanded greatly since the last survey four years ago with many new groups beginning and linking in so this blitz will need to cover a lot more ground.

"In 2016 we surveyed 48 sites and thought that was a big job. This time around we need to cover 160,000 hectares, and investigate a whole heap of new sites for kiwi presence.

"It's great that communities and landowners 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," Sullivan said.

Advertisement

Survey sites are located on a mix of public and private land and are selected for habitat, land use, ease of access and also to fill the gaps in knowledge of kiwi presence in Northland.

Existing human kiwi listening stations that are monitored every year as part of the Northland Kiwi Call Count Survey are excluded from the survey, as are known high kiwi population areas. Data from KLDs used in Northland in 2019 to investigate kiwi presence at landowners' request, have also been collated, and will help to avoid unnecessary re-surveying of sites.

The field crew will now begin contacting community group co-ordinators and private landowners with sites that look promising for surveying kiwi presence.

If you would like your site to be established as a five-yearly survey site please contact Sullivan at ngaire@kiwicoast.org.nz or phone 027 425 0249.