Best Job Ever – Kiwi Practitioner

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It’s raining tonight. I’ve been out and shut the chickens in their house for the night. Snug and warm with good perches to roost and dry straw on the ground. Holly the horse has her cover on and has been put in the goat paddock. She’s busy munching on the hay the goats left, (they are fussy eaters!), after having her own portion. I expect the goats are in their shelter, cuddled up, chewing their cuds on the dry straw. The dogs have had an extra run, a treat and are now in their kennels, snuggled up to a blanket and dreaming doggie dreams! Laurie and Kayden are watching a movie.

Last night we had a good storm, well it was really early this morning! Thunder, lightning, torrential rain and very strong wind. The chairs on our front deck were zooming all over the place. I got up by torch light and moved them out of the wind. It was not easy to sleep – quite exciting really – especially when you don’t need to get up for work in the morning! Unfortunately the morning light showed the garden took a bit of a hammering and some of the sweet corn plants looked pretty battered. Hopefully they’ll be okay as the cobs are still forming. I reckon they are about two weeks away from eating.

Anyway that’s not what prompted me to write a blog tonight! I’ve been thinking about my week at work. I had a couple of weeks holiday early February and knew when I came back to work it would be all go! It’s kiwi catching season. The birds I primarily work with – Great Spotted Kiwi are the biggest of all five kiwi species. I have been working with the birds for about 10 years now and it is a highlight of my work as a field ecologist. An added bonus is that I have trained my dog, Mica, to find kiwi and she is a certified ‘Protective Species Conservation Dog’ with great spotted kiwi and whio (blue duck): her two specialty species. Much of my work is around industrial workplaces where kiwi have natural habitats. Mica and I find any kiwi and put transmitters on the birds so that they can be monitored. It sounds a bit invasive, but truth is I only catch birds once a year. The rest of the time they live their own lives, although I can track them and gather data from the transmitters.

Last week Mica found kiwi Isla. Isla is a female who weighs just over 3kg. She was in a burrow under a tall beech tree. Mica indicated her whereabouts and I was able to reach into the burrow and extract her. After changing her transmitter, Isla was given a health check and then released back into the burrow.

It’s a real privilege to work with Aotearoa New Zealand’s iconic species. I never take for granted how blessed I am to have the job that I have. To go out into some of the most pristine sub-alpinbush and follow my dog as she searches for kiwi – it doesn’t get much better than that! I hope you enjoy the photos and can share some of my love for what I do.

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