In my last two articles about Tiritiri Matangi, I showed you the island and many of its inhabitants, but some are still missing. Let’s have a look, OK?
North Island saddleback (Philesturnus rufusater)
This bird, emblem of the Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi, went very close to extinction. The introduction of rats and stoats brought a dramatic decline, and the only remaining birds were confined to Hen Island in the beginning of the last century. Like many other endemic species, they were then translocated to other locations, including Tiri in 1984.
As I mentioned before, there was no ferry coming to the island on Monday and Tuesday. That meant that, for 2 full days (which actually turned into 3 when the ferry didn’t come on Wednesday either), we were alone. One ranger, two volunteers and three photographers on an island of 4 x 1 kilometers. Oh, and lots of birds!
It took some time for her to take me seriously, but once I achieved that, our conversation was set on better rails. The agent at the Department of Conservation’s desk in downtown Auckland gave me some good advice on birdwatching around the city, and one info proved critical: one could stay overnight on Tiritiri Matangi. “Tiri” is an open sanctuary, an island free of introduced predators where trees have been replanted and rare birds introduced. Closely monitored, the place is open to visitors, and a ferry goes there every day, except on Mondays and Tuesday. That’s what pushed me to book a stay between Sunday and Wednesday: the promise of tranquility, with noone but a handful of guests in the vicinity.
That’s how, only a few days into my stay in New Zealand, I was leaving the city to spend a few days on a remote island.
The crossing yielded some news species already: White-fronted tern (Sterna striata) and Australasian gannet (Morus serrator) were maybe the most notable.