Monday, June 22, 2009

A replacement for 1080?

This is an interesting new research paper on the potential future replacements for 1080:

It includes very concise backgrounds on the history, use and modes of action of the various options.

Monday, June 15, 2009


The first practical project I am hoping to get started on with rock wren protection is in the subalpine area nestled above the Otira and Bealey Valley. The Otira Basin, the head of the Bealey and Temple Basin. It is an area where rock wren still "hang on" to existence, but we need for a start to determine how many and what predators they co-exist with.

I came across this video on youtube of well know local (to Arthurs Pass) ecologist Gerry McSweeney describing the positive effects of 1080 on theOtira Valley, to see the amazing rata blooming in the Otira then skeletal nearby in the Ahaura is devastating...and listen to the Otira birdsong..

A question I am trying to get to grips with is what effect 1080 may have on a subalpine/alpine environment. We have used it so much in the bush now that its positive effects have been proven to outweigh the negative. Would this be the same? Would the removal of mice in particular from the alpine environment enable invertebrates to flourish, flower numbers to rebound and rock wren to breed more successfully?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Effect of Climate Change on Rock Wren

From the great National Radio Programme, "Our Changing World"...

Landcare research ecologist Matt McGlone talks about conservation issues with a focus on climate change. Rock wren are discussed briefly as an interesting example of a species at threat.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tuke in NZ Geographic

I just finished reading the great article "The Also Wren" by Kennedy Warne in the New Zealand Geographic (Num 97, May - June 2009). Warne's article traverses much of the relevant Rock Wren terrain in time and space. From Guthrie Smiths encounters near Milford to the work undertaken by Sue Heath and now Megan Willans in the Murchison Mountains. From the New Zealand wrens in history to the efforts of modern day philanthtopists like Barry Dent and Sue Freitag preventing the rock wren becoming history.

Most importantly though the article examines the trends in time and space. A rock wren reduction of 44% in 30 years in the Murchison Mountains study area, and an overall according to an analysis undertaken by Heath and Peter Gaze of DOC "the rock wrens range had decreased by a quarter since 1984".

Not wanting to take two much from the article which is studded with great quotes from the likes of Herbert Guthrie Smith and great photos, I thought I might just reveal what it says about the meanings of the rock wrens two Maori names...piwauwau and tuke... "Piwauwau means "little complaining bird" - a touch unfortunate, given its merry tweet. Another name for the rock wren is tuke, which can mean elbow, a possible but misleading reference to the rock wren's prominent stripe above the eye (which is by no means elbow-angled), or twitch, a logical allusion to the wren's distinctive bobbing up and down"...Tuke it is then!