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Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Chicks in the city

The tale of four friends making their way in the big city has been a big screen success for ex-Square Peg actress Sarah Jesscia-Parker – and now looks set to do the same for Bush Telly!

But this new “chick flick” does not feature two blondes, a red head and a brunette – in fact the lead actresses are all fuzzy and brown with spots!

We’re not even sure if they are all actresses at this point, it’s too soon to tell. I’m talking of course about the four young roroa / great spotted kiwi chicks that are currently being crèched in Riccarton Bush, in the middle of Christchurch city.

I recently got to follow the DOC rangers in charge of the kiwi project, to watch the kiwi chicks get weighed.

Each chick has a transmitter on it so they can track them down – as they don’t always sleep in the same burrow every night. On this occasion, all four chicks were cosy, together in one burrow. They were only about 4 steps off the track– pretty amazing to think that they are so close to where people walk past every day.

It was pretty wet underfoot and Malcolm lay his coat down to lie on, while he reached deep under the vines and roots to pull a chick out. They don’t like it very much – let’s face it who would like to be woken up from a nice sleep to be hung upside down and weighed? But their shaking just makes your heart melt – if their fluffy feathers and big gangly toes didn’t do it for you already. And it has to be done, to make sure they are doing OK, growing big and strong, ready to face the big bad world.

It was an amazing experience, made even more special by the knowledge that very few of us get the chance to get this close to this unique creature, despite adopting its name as our own. Well they only come out at night - (mostly) - live in pretty remote places as far as most of us are concerned, and they’re endangered too.

That’s why films like the one Bush Telly is producing are so great – it brings the kiwi into our own homes via the TV or computer – and we can feel like we are part of the experience more so than any story or photo can do. Bush Telly is all about empowering conservationists through film. The kiwi story is the perfect example, as people are such a vital part of the tale. People such as the BNZ Save The Kiwi Trust who sponsor Operation Nest Egg, or the students of Hurunui College who are trapping pests so these chicks have somewhere in the wild to be released back into.

DOC and Bush Telly will be launching “Roroa and the search for a kiwi crèche” during Conservation Week 12-19 September. You can check out what these people have done to help save the kiwi, and perhaps come up with ways you too can make a difference. Find it at http://www.bushtelly.org.nz/ or www.doc.govt.nz/bushtelly.