The Land of Canaan

The old farm house

The old farm house.

Near the summit of the Takaka Hill there is a narrow dusty road that turns off towards the North and at the end of the road there is a carpark and the start of the short track to Harwoods Hole. Harwoods Hole is a long way down and the entry to a very large underground cave system. Shirl & I drove to the carpark and then headed along a farm road, past some sheep yards and woolshed to park by the old farm house on the Canaan Downs. This was about 7-800 metres above sea level. We were to be based here for several days and to head off down to the Wainui Hut, about and hours walk away, to check the bird feeders. The farmhouse had no electric power but solar panels fed the lights, a gas stove for cooking and gas also for hot water and a shower. Interesting to see some old relicts of the past; an old coal range stove/oven, the old type of candle holders plus a modern woodburner too. Water was taken from a nearby creek/spring to a tank which fed the house. All quite comfortable – except for the swarms of blowflies but once the doors were closed, some blowfly hunting completed, all was cosy.

Who's the centre of attention?

Who’s the centre of attention?

Bird feeders in a National Park? It is part of a scheme to reintroduce rare and threatened native bird species back into places that they have been practically wiped out by introduced predators. The area is intensively trapped before any release but once the conditions are right, natives birds are captured from areas where they are plentiful, and taken to a large aviary/cage; in this case, near the Wainui Hut. The birds are held in the cage for several days and once acclimatised then released into the wilds. The feeding stations are maintained for several weeks to give time for the birds to adjust and find their way around their new territory. The birds released were kaka’s (a large native bush parrot) and kakariki’s (smaller yellow crowned parakeets).The different birds

We arrived at the house, had lunch and then tramped to the Wainui Hut, leaving around 1.30pm. Along the track we heard bellbirds and two parakeets were seen about 15 minutes down the track from the saddle. We arrived at the hut at 2.50pm and changed the jam water, while the fruit appeared to be untouched and quite fresh looking so we left them. Checked the feeder for the kaka and cut some almonds for the seed tray. The kakariki feeder hung down from a tree and lowering it, we found it full of seeds so we left it as was. Left the Wainui Hut about 3.30pm. No kaka or parakeets were seen or heard. There were many wasps about and a continual drone of them up high among the tree tops. I’m surprised that there appeared to be no poisoning of the wasps as these pests are not beneficial to the birdlife and other native animals.

The bird cage.

The bird cage.

We were to feed the birds every second day, so on the next day we walked to the Moa Park Shelter:  A number of robins along this track including a pair at one stage.  A rifleman was seen at the track junction to Awapoto Hut, some tomtits and about 20 Welcome Swallows by the creek near the shelter.  I don’t know why the place is called Moa Park.  Maybe there is some evidence of them living here many years ago. We didn’t see any anyway.  On the way back we stopped for lunch in the shade of the bush and I stretched my legs out over the track to rest up against the trunk of a tree.  Soon a robin came down, hopped about and then continued hopping right under my legs and out the other side (check out the video of this on my Facebook page: They seem to be quite tame and of course, easy fodder for the likes of stoats.

The kaka feeder showing the stand on plate and the covered seed box.

The kaka feeder showing the stand on plate and the covered seed box.

Another visit to the bird feeders the next morning, passing fantails and robins along the track to the hut. We changed the sweet water and fruit for the kaka’s and checked the seed for the parakeets. As we sat down for lunch after attending to the feeders, it was good to hear a parakeet chuckling in the nearby tree tops. At the kaka feeding table there was a tray for the fruit, a couple of bottles of the sweet water that we mixed for them and a little box arrangement that held some larger seeds. This box was covered with a lid that only opened when a kaka stood on a plate to one side. Stand on the plate and the top lid lifted up for them to help themselves. They seem to get the hang of this arrangement without too much fuss.

We walked back to the farmhouse for lunch, packed up and then headed for home. Unfortunately we did not have any close encounters at the bird feeders but we have been invited to help out to feed the birds in the future when they are still in the cage. I might even get some good photos?

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