As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Team who rediscovered taiko reunite to celebrate


Grovetown bird expert Mike Bell is heading to the Chatham Islands to celebrate 35 years since the taiko was rediscovered.

The taiko, thought to be extinct till it was re-found in 1978 by David Crockett, is a nocturnal seabird that lives only on the Chatham Islands. There are about 140 of them left.

Mr Bell is secretary to the Taiko Trust, a private group of Chatham Island landowners and visiting ornithologists working to conserve native birds and bush habitats on private land, and educates young people and the community on the Chathams about conservation and the bird species on the islands.

He is joining about 20 others from the mainland for a week of events to mark the 35th anniversary of the taiko.

The bird is otherwise known as the magenta petrel.

Mr Crockett and the team that made the original discovery on 1 January 1978 are returning to the Chathams for the unveiling on Saturday of a monument to the find that resurrected the species.

Open days are being held at the original "taiko camp" where volunteers working on the taiko re-discovery lived during the months they camped on the island waiting for the birds to return to breed. Other open days will be held at the new predator-free area on private land where a second breeding area is being set up.

Taiko Trust chairwoman Liz Tuanui said the week's events would enable Chatham Islanders to celebrate with the original taiko team and mark how far conservation on the islands had come.

About 20 people from the mainland are expected to attend the events, and interest is high on the Chathams, with about 20 per cent of the islands' 500 population expected to be there as well.

Taiko return to the Chatham Islands from the sea late each year, and burrow underground where they nest and raise chicks.

The trust is setting up a second breeding colony on about 4 hectares of native bush on private land at Sweetwater. The colony will be protected by a predator fence to keep out pests that eat eggs and chicks.

Mrs Tuanui said that would be a turning point for the highly endangered species, with the protected area helping the birds build up population numbers.

The Taiko Trust has re-introduced Chatham Island tui to the main Chatham Island and plans to re-introduce the Chatham Island albatross from its remnant habitat on The Pyramid.

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