After spending an interesting week in Wellington last week becoming familiar with the STLP programme and learning about teaching science, I got started at Rotokare Reserve yesterday. Boy, was I in for a shock! Fiona, the site manager ran me through the heath and safety protocols, then we were straight out into the bush.
|Heading up the fence line|
|Getting the cards from the tracking tunnels|
We needed to collect in the print cards from hundreds of tracking tunnels from around the reserve. These have ink in the middle, so when something runs through to eat the peanut butter they can track the footprints to see what animals or insects are in the reserve, and to make sure there are no pests.
What pests can you think of that might harm the native birds or plants at Rotokare?
I thought that we'd just be collecting them from near the track around the lake, but we went right into the uncut bush, walking (falling) up and down lines between the fence and road. When we go out in the bush we need to take a radio to keep in touch, and let people know we are safe. On my first day I got to see one of about 10 North Island Robin at the reserve, and 2 Saddleback, which were translocated there a couple of years ago.
|The bush we were walking through|
|Checking the culverts for holes. They are covered to make sure kiwi don't fall in and drown.|
After stopping for a late lunch and to patch up some blisters, we finished collecting cards for the day and headed back to base to analyse them. Luckily we didn't find any pest footprints. I certainly slept well last night, that's for sure.
Who do you think these footprints belong to?