Tracks filled with Keas
I'm looking for tracks aside from the great walks where Keas are known to be widely present. I've already done the keplar and part of the routeburn and would like to know if there are any other tracks where there is a high chance of them coming to your hit for a visit. UPDATE: Thanks for all of the concern regarding the Keas welfare. I have never fed a Kea and would never intentionally try to harm one. I am a bird watcher who just wants to maximize his chances of seeing wild Kea. I've read some stories of them interacting at smaller huts and would be just as happy to have a chance to see them fly overhead instead of a hut. I'm currently located in the north island and only have a slim window to hike and bird watch this Christmas in the south island. I often go out to smaller enclosures and islands to see kaka, and am always questing for a wild kokako up here as well. I will look into trails around Arthur's pass. Earlier I was set on the dusky bit still up for change.
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Hi again. > Doc's own radio tagging 2008 -2014 and again in South Westland 2017 show that there has been approximately a 12% fatality count after particular 1080 aerial ops. Just a note on this.... the 12% figure is calculated from 24 dead of 199 monitored during that time. They occurred during 6 specific operations of 14. 20 of the 24 deaths were from 3 specific drops (Fox-Franz-Josef, 2008, 7; Okarito, 2011, 8; Otira, 2013, 5). Of the remaining 11 drops, very few or zero kea were recorded to have died. It's detailed here [pdf]: https://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/conservation/threats-and-impacts/pest-control/other-technical-documents/code-of-practice-aerial-1080-kea-habitat.pdf The 12% figure has a high standard deviation. It isn't clearly representative of everything that's been being learned and adjustments to practices that have been occurring during and since that time, especially given there have also been many occasions with very few or no recorded kea deaths, even with many birds being monitored. A strong theory is that kea which spend time around humans are at higher risk near exotic 1080 baits, and that's a big reason why it's unhelpful for people to be going out of their way to attract kea and encourage them to be interested in human things. There are a several things that are unnaturally contributing to kea decline these days, but by far the biggest is introduced predators attacking and eating their babies. It results in an ageing population that can mislead people into thinking everything's fine until the birds they're often used to seeing repeatedly simply die without any young birds to replace them. Being able to carry out effective pest control is really important.
Hey @izogi Keas trying out pest control food makes a lot of sense if they are encouraged to seek out exotic items. I'm curious to find out whether keas learn to avoid poisoned bait over time as well. I have seen keas at keplar and have seen keas having things tossed to them at monkey creek. I can't lie I've definitely let them get close, even chewing on my shoe (never fed them and scolded a friend that tried!). I'll make sure to keep my distance or move away if they ever try to encircle me again in such a large group and take precautions with my gear (I dropped my pack to climb a peak and came back to ripped straps). They really are a spectacular bird and one of the reasons I came to live and work in nz. If I meet them at a different place I'll make sure to keep away when they try to approach. They remind me of raccoons only with wings. Edit: That is too sad. Just read the second post now. Is it possible for DOC to try fencing out valuable breeding sites? There range is very expansive but for populations in Milford Sound and Arthur's Pass, the birds might discover the benefits of a regularly kept area.
@geeves I witnessed large flocks of Kea at Monkey Creek and the Keplar track. I see what you mean by miniature thugs. What distracts you from the front while the other circles around to get your pack. I have zero interest in going to those tourist hotspots again. I've never fed them but have let them get close. They act the way raccoons do when they get habitualized to people. I do love seeing the birds in the wild. I am located in the north island so I only have a short window of time on my Christmas vacation to try and get some tramping and birding in so I'm only going to hike wherever keas are prone to fly through the air. So far it looks like arts pass and the fiordlands are my best chances.
in areas where there are a lot of kea and 1080 is to be dropped, a prebait is dropped with no 1080 and a substance in it that makes the kea sick temporarily but causes no long term harm to make them bait shy for future 1080 drops
Apparently there are a bundle of young ones around Kahurangi, Mt Owen in particular, that have fledged since some more intensive pest control over the past few years. https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/101673398/adventurous-flock-of-young-kea-spotted-in-kahurangi-national-park Can anyone here comment on that lot? They might not yet be so conditioned to chase people.
The only time I have seen heaps of them in one go was on the other side of Waimakariri Col. There must have been 15 or so hopping around and ripping up plants with their beaks to eat. A pretty awesome sight. They posed for pictures and everything (of course)
I hear and see them very often e.g. 2 weeks ago in the Otehake. I dread their coming to us if we're camping and have learnt to repel them by sqirting them with a water bottle. They hate this and leave but if you throw stones in their direction, they will think it is a game (BTW, I don't do this). Sometimes I report seeing them on the kea reporting site. About 5 years ago we were camping by a wee tarn at the head of Junction Stream in the Black Range and 14 of them were wheeling in the air. Mercifully they didn't come down and visit us. I am definitely seeing fewer keas these days. However we are seeing and hearing more kaka in Arthurs Pass National Park. Occasionally they sit and are nice and quiet when you share a space with them...
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