Helping to save the North Island Robin

The elusive North Island robin (click for full image)

The elusive North Island robin (click for full image)

I recently took some time off work to stay with a friend near Benneydale, 35 kilometres south-east of Te Kūiti. I was planning a few days of doing not very much, but my friend had other ideas.

Nic is currently working on Project Robin, a Massey University conservation project monitoring North Island robin populations in the area. With breeding season over and winter about to hit, the field work was more or less done for another year. However, there were a few jobs that needed doing before closing up shop for winter.

And it was some of those jobs that I was roped into doing. The bush Nic works in is fragments of largely native forest spread over numerous farms. On the first day we tidied up bait stations and rat trap stations in one fragment, removing the poison and securing the covers. The following two days we removed stations and traps from one fragment, and installed some in a nearby area of bush. It’s not exactly hard work, but it is very physical; methodically traipsing up and down hills with various bits of gear.

A trap (white) and bait station (black) in a forest fragment

A trap (white) and bait (black) station in a forest fragment

The bush areas themselves are quite interesting. Some are open to sheep and cattle at various times of the year, and wild goats and pigs whenever they get in. The difference between those areas and bush that is completely closed off from the farm stock is dramatic – there is a near complete lack of undergrowth. But what really struck me was the fact that the robin are quite happy in the browsed areas, seemingly untroubled by the bigger beasts – farming and conservation side by side.

On the weekend, when Nic was back attempting a census count before the weather turned nasty, I made a brief trip up to the Maungatautari Ecological Island, a wonderfully accessible forest restoration project near Cambridge, with some easy walks through the beautiful bush.

There are a lot of smaller, less well-known programmes, like Project Robin, going on around the country all helping to maintain and enhance New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna.

And of course there are bigger programmes too, primarily Department of Conservation (DoC) projects. I have been lucky enough to spend time on Kapiti Island helping (in the loosest sense) with both the kōkako and hihi (stitchbird) programmes, and spending a couple of weeks near Ōmarama helping (in the very loosest sense) with the black stilt. And last year I also had the opportunity to travel to the sub-antarctic islands and document some of DoCs work down there with albatross and sea lions. There’s photos from this trip here:; and some more information here:

For more information about Project Robin, and other robin and tomtit reintroductions, visit:

One comment added so far

  1. Comment made by Kevin || January 1st, 2015

    The new website address for more information about Project Robin, and other robin and tomtit reintroductions, visit:

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