Sunny Skies Bring Out The Geckos!

A captive Duvaucel’s gecko, released in February this year

Two weeks ago,the Massey Uni Gecko Team (Vivienne, Alaine, Manu and Mark) caught 11 Duvaucel’s geckos. Ten of these endemic lizards were fitted with small “backpacks” containing transmitters in an effort to further understand the movement patterns and habitat use of New Zealand’s largest living gecko species.

Alaine, one of the geckos we fitted with a “backpack”, seen basking on a Flax leaf


Vivienne, from the Massey Uni Gecko Team, radio-tracking Duvaucel’s geckos

One of the geckos we caught was identified as one of the original geckos released in 2006, when Duvaucel’s geckos were re-introduced to Motuora Island.

Meet Jack. He is one of Motuora’s resident Duvaucel’s geckos, originally released in 2006

During ourstay, we were also fortunate enough to encounter many other native species Motuora has to offer including Moko skinks, Brown Kiwi, Little Blue Penguins and a very cute New Zealand Dotterel chick!


A Moko skink

By Vivienne Glenday

Wētāpunga news

Moeo Finaunga (Massey University Albany, Ecology group) discovered an adult sized Wētāpunga on Motuora Island last week. Moeo spotted the large insect (7-8 cm body length) on a Manuka tree approx. 40 cm off the ground while carrying out a gecko night survey with her fellow Wildlife Management students.  Mac Purvin, who witnessed the find, took photographic proof and helped to confirm the species and age of the animal.


Adult Wetapunga


Juvenile Wētāpunga were released on Motuora in September 2010 and December 2012 about 300 metres southwest of the gecko hunt site and have not been re-sighted since. According to Dr Chris Green from the Department of Conservation all individuals released three years ago were expected to have died by now, while those from last year should still be juveniles. However, this animal was too large to be a juvenile and could in fact be one of the originally released weta. Even though no geckos were spotted that night, this was a remarkable find and caused much excitement among the Island rangers and DOC staff.  Adult Wētāpunga may live longer than expected.

Manu Barry

Motuora Kiwi find new home in Kaipara

12 Motuora Kiwi have now been transferred to Mataia in Southern Kaipara.

Last month a team of 11 people spent a long night chasing kiwi with limited success. The goal was to catch 14 birds for transfer, but in the end only 5 were caught. These birds were released in front of a huge crowd at Mataia celebrating the return of kiwi to the Kaipara area after a 50 year absence.

Last Monday night a small group of 5 of us went out to try and collect more birds for the Mataia restoration project. The birds proved a little easier to catch and 8 birds were taken off the island, 7 of which were released at Mataia on Tuesday.

The collection team from Monday

New Home for Motuora Kiwi

Last Friday a team of DoC staff, 2 volunteers from Maranui Conservation Limited and Jade the dog came to the island to collect 14 kiwi to be transferred to their new home in the Brynderwyns.

Rolf with one of the kiwi

All 14 kiwi were caught on the Friday night, we managed to get the 14th bird just before midnight. The kiwi being transferred all had to be at least 1.2kg, any smaller birds caught were released. The kiwi were weighed, measured, and fitted with bands and transmitters so they can be tracked in their new home.

Kiwi being processed

Kiwi chicks that are released on Motuora as part of “Operation Nest Egg” are all microchipped so they can be identified. Any birds caught that don’t have a microchip are therefore island born birds. A large proportion of the transferred kiwi were island born birds showing that the breeding population of kiwi on Motuora is thriving.

The collection team

Pycroft’s Petrel chick feeding

Since the arrival of the 70 Pycroft’s petrel chicks three weeks ago efforts have been concentrated on feeding, measuring, and weighing the chicks in preperation for their fledging. Contractor Helen Gummer has been running this side of the translocation from the island, along with the help of volunteers.

The feeding process starts with the blending of a sardine smoothie

The chicks are then collected from their artificial burrows

Ngaire Skelton transports a chick to the feeding shed where the chick is weighed before being fed

The birds are held still by one person while another does the feeding

Kit Brown holds a bird ready to be fed

The chicks are crop fed small amounts of the sardine smoothie every few days. The amounts they are fed depends on their weight and how close they are to fledging.

So far 44 of the 70 chicks have fledged and all the remaining chicks have been out of their burrows at night.