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Telemetry training opportunity by Craig Montgomerie

Telemetry training opportunity by Craig Montgomerie

1 September 2021

In the past few weeks, I have been sketching up a plan to achieve an annual kiwi muster for our translocations that will take place in the not too distant future. We are brainstorming what tools and resources we will require to undertake as we are still a distance away from implementing this proposed plan.  One skill that has been identified and will be required are a team of experienced individuals that can track kiwi using telemetry equipment.

I have in past Maunga Matters asked if anyone would like to get involved to get in contact with me.  A list was formed and on one sunny Sunday in September a group of us met up in Leamington domain for some telemetry 101.  Earlier in the day I walked around the park and hid functioning kiwi transmitters in the domain to symbolise ‘sleeping kiwi’. Once the team had assembled after lunch, I handed the telemetry equipment out and gave them a brief introduction on how to use the gear. We then split into two groups and went on the search.

Now I must say, I thought putting transmitters in a flat and open park setting it would be too easy for everyone to find.  As it turns out it was slightly challenging but a great way to teach and learn without having to deal with hills, trees, and supplejack!  I affectionately called this location ‘Kindergarten’. After the group had had some practice, we stepped it up a notch and went to ‘Primary school’.  This new location was the soldiers track on the Waikato River.  Like the domain, I had hidden some transmitters in and amongst the trees on the riverbank earlier in the day. This made it more of a real-life scenario without having to access the maunga itself.

Everyone had a go at locating all the transmitters and all had success with finding the ‘treasure’, as telemetry work is just treasure hunting for adults with technology!

The two sites we used were only chosen as they are close to where I live, but surprisingly provided a great training ground as a signal can do funny things in varying terrain or in the domains case buildings and at the river site the signal sometimes bounced of the opposite side of the river throwing a bit of confusion into the mix.  All simple mistakes that you can only learn from but using the equipment regularly.

As this afternoon was so successful we will host more days like this before the end of the year and may look to using Lake te ko utu in Cambridge as a training ground as it has good elevation and terrain. Once the group are feeling confidant, I will introduce them to the southern enclosure and set them up with some much more hidden transmitters to find.

If you would like to join in the telemetry team or just give it a go to see if you like it, please get in contact with me at kiwi@maungatrust.org

On a brief side note, the first kiwi eggs have been delivered to Pukaha Mount Bruce incubation centre and the Kiwi Burrow incubation facility at Wairakei. I estimate the new season’s chicks will begin arriving about mid-October kicking off our fourth season of releases that are a part of our Kiwis for kiwi kohanga strategy.