CALLING ALL KIWIS

This year’s kiwi “call count” shows a thriving population of our national icon at The Landing.

Encountering our kiwi population is a favourite experience of guests at The Landing – even former US President Barack Obama was delighted to come face-to-face with one of them when he stayed with us earlier this year.

But keeping track of New Zealand’s national icon is a challenge for ornithologists. Shy and nocturnal, the kiwi is rarely seen during the day, making it difficult to monitor the health and size of the population.

The best tracking system is through “call counts”, where volunteers at listening stations count the number of kiwi calls through the first two hours of darkness. These counts are mainly run by the Department of Conservation, and have been conducted every year in Northland since the 1990s.

The Landing is proud to be home to a number of Northland brown kiwi (Apteryx mantelli). This year, as we have done in previous years, we took part in our own kiwi call count survey, following the Department of Conservation’s guidelines. This year, we conducted counts at two locations – Poraenui Point and on the boulevard along the ridge above the vineyard.

We are extremely pleased with the counts from the survey, with some evenings noting as many as 40 calls per hour, which The Landing general manager Tim Robinson describes as “off the charts”. We also noted five curious kiwis passing the location of one of our listeners, two kiwis having a tussle (we’re not sure whether it was romantic or belligerent) and one scampering across the driveway after the count was finished.

This is an extremely positive result for the area, and suggests that our local kiwi population is in great health. We look forward to sharing the results with local conservation groups, and repeating the count next year, when we hope we’ll find it in even better stead.