As the day turned into evening and the stars appeared in the clear sky, it was time to sit and listen for kiwi. This involves finding a location with a good outlook and a wide scope so that sounds from far and wide can be heard. Kiwi have a surprisingly loud call with quite distinguishing sounds for male and female. It is currently nesting season and Great Spotted Kiwi incubate their eggs for up to 78 days. I imagine that the male (who is usually the primary incubator ) is getting pretty hungry and ready for a stretch and a feed by the time the night arrives. He usually calls to his mate and she will come and relieve him. It’s not a bad time for listening. I use my GPS to waypoint my location and have a compass handy to get a bearing.
While I wait I get out the aerial and receiver (telemetry equipment) and pick up signals from two kiwi with transmitters on. They haven’t moved yet and are still in their day burrows, but by 8pm both birds are moving. One, a female, off to the nesting burrow she has with her mate and the other a male (from a different pair) moving around. As I get his codes I see his movement has dropped and wonder if he, too, is incubating.
The night gets cold and I’m grateful for my thermos of hot chocolate and the snacks I’ve got in my lunch box! I put my down jacket on and put Mica’s on too. It gets quiet, as the wind dies down and evening becomes night. Frogs are busy calling and in the distance a morepork is heard. Suddenly out of the darkness comes the trill of a female kiwi call. Mica is on full alert and I feel the hairs on the back of my neck raise as I pull out my compass to get a bearing. The call of a kiwi never fails to thrill me! It’s only a very short call – is she calling a nesting mate?
The night is long and cold! By midnight we’ve had enough. It’s quiet in the kiwi world – in almost 5 hours I’ve only heard two calls. Mica is asleep on her blanket in the back of the ute and I want to thaw out my freezing feet and go sit somewhere warm! Time to call it a night.