Zealandia Takah? (T2 on the left)

The Zealandia takahe

A pair of takahe were introduced to Zealandia at the end of January and spent their first few weeks in isolation outside of the public eye. In the last month they have been let out into a larger area encompassing much of the swamp at the top of the lower lake. Named Puffin and T2 the takahe have arrived from Mana Island. They are a breeding pair that haven’t had any chicks for a number of seasons so they have been retired to Zealandia to make way for younger birds on Mana Island. I’ve kept an eye out on a few visits but up until now have only had brief glimpses (on one occasion I was walking down a track and interrupted one of the takahe as it was about to come out into the open, the takahe beat a hasty and noisy retreat and I could hear a deep booming sound as it called from within the forest nearby).

Yesterday I had a few hours spare in the afternoon so visited again and this time I got lucky. Walking in on the main path I could see the takahe on the grassy area between the lower lake and the swamp so I headed down the stairs and over the floating pathway, quietly opening and closing the gate installed to prevent the birds walking out of a controlled area around the swamp. I crouched down a fair distance away and took a few photos. There were a few other people in the clearing, sitting and watching the birds.

Zealandia Takah? (T2 on the left)Photo by Brendon & Keryn

First view, note the antenna on each takahe, presumably there for tracking purposes (or they’re actually remote controlled robot birds, but I figure that’s unlikely).

Zealandia Takah?Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Taking shelter.

For the next couple of hours I moved around and watched the takahe as they wandered about either eating grass, checking out their feed station or disappeared into the thicker foliage when they got uncomfortable due to louder people walking by. Generally it seemed that if people were slow in their movements and didn’t make much noise then they weren’t to worried and the takahe just went about their business.

Zealandia Takah?Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Up and over.

Zealandia Takah?Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Unsure about posing.

Zealandia Takah?Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Checking the feeder.

For the last half hour I was sitting on a bench next to the patch of wild grass in the middle of the clearing. The takahe would give me a look every now and again but generally ignored me. If they were too close (a couple of meters away) they didn’t seem to like the sound of the shutter on the camera, looking up each time it went off. Otherwise it was just me and the takahe on a windy and overcast afternoon, a lovely and peaceful experience.

Zealandia Takah?Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Mutual grooming.

Zealandia Takah?Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A nice portrait.

Zealandia Takah? (Puffin)Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Getting to the good bits.

If you’re visiting its probably best to just sit down on one of the benches at the grassy clearing and wait, if they’re nearby they’ll soon pop out and start feeding.

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5 thoughts on “The Zealandia takahe

  1. Thanks for posting this Brendon.

    Guiding at Zealandia today, I was able to introduce a lot of visitors to Puffin and/or T2. They were frequently emerging onto the wetland lawn for up to 5 minutes at a time. Still easily spooked though, so it is important for people to be quiet, move slowly, and not get too close.

    Lots of visitors took away awesome photos / video of the birds though.

    All this just 3km of Lambton Quay!

  2. Fabulous photos. My Oraka/Aparima Runaka members are passionate about these precious birds. Hope to see more of your neat photos. Thanks Shona

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