In 2007, I was lucky enough to visit Maud Island in Pelorous Sound (Marlborough Sounds) to help conduct some work on the threatened Orange-fronted parakeet (Cyanoramphus malherbi). These birds were bred and reared in captive facilities in Christchurch, before being translocated and released into the wild on Maud Island. The transfer and monitoring of these beautiful and endangered birds was conducted by Luis Ortiz-Catedral, great researcher and friend of mine from Massey University.
We spent a week on the island radio-tracking the parakeets, observing their feeding behaviours and searching for nests, while taking the opportunity to explore some of the more ancient wildlife hiding within the forest. Maud Island is a predator-free island, administered by the Department of Conservation, and acts as a refuge for some of New Zealand’s most endangered wildlife, including the Maud Island frog (Leiolopelma pakeka), Giant flax weevil (Anagotus fairburni), Cook Strait giant weta (Deinacrida rugosa), and the world’s largest flightless nocturnal parrot, the Kakapo (Strigops habroptila).
The island once provided a refuge for some of the dwindling population of Kakapo, but more recently has been utilised as a surrogate ‘home’ for a very inquisitive and cheeky parrot- Sirroco. This kakapo was hand reared and has acquired an affinity to human beings.
After spending a week on Maud Island, you have shared a great number of memorable experiences with Sirocco, however one intimate experience shall remain with me forever…when Sirocco the Kakapo decided to copulate with my head!