From the photo gallery...
A Beginner's Guide to Checking Nests
3 December 2009
After a short course in nest checking 101 yesterday afternoon, Melanie sent us off with our list of nests to check first thing this morning. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of what and where the nests are on the island and she was riffling through her packet of nest cards, dealing ones close together out to each of us while we were still finishing our breakfast coffee.
I went off into the bush, first to find 09RAN – KD24, a black robin nest, who I was told would be on East Cut between South Cross and Stacey’s. Tracks here are labeled in day-glow orange flagging tape and I’d love to say that you can’t get lost; I can, but am supremely gifted in that direction!
Occasionally you come across a pink tag, and that tells you that there is a nest nearby. You then follow the pink tags deep into the bush until you get to one with a compass bearing and some instructions as to how to find the nest from there. KD24 is nice and obvious, low down in the roots of a dead Chatham Island akeake tree. Sounding as quiet as an average baby elephant in my petrel boards, I plodded over to the rotting stump and inside, just as the nest card promised, was a nest with two small eggs in it. These were first found on November 27th so are likely to be hatching in about 10 days.
Not all nests are this easy to spot or get to. Some are too high to be able to see into. So, then we use a small mirror on a collapsible sticks to look inside the nest. Others are in very high trees and we need to watch the parent’s behaviour to see if the female is incubating or if both the parents are feeding chicks. All in all, it’s like doing a treasure hunt and the clues will get you to the treasure of a warm nest with eggs which soon will hatch into seriously fluffy chicks!
Front of a nest card has heaps of information about who's nest it is, where it is and how to find it.