After three years of Harry Hunts, Harry “Houdini” the kiwi has made a last escape!
Harry has been one of four kiwi on the Tutukaka Coast monitored via a tiny radio transmitter strapped to his leg.
Released by Tutukaka Landcare in 2018, Harry became known as “Harry Houdini” due to his disappearing act around the time each six-monthly health check and transmitter change came due.
The monitoring crew would pinpoint Harry’s location via telemetry equipment, arrange a kiwi catching team and head in with a fresh transmitter only to find time and again that Harry had other ideas.
After being released near Matapouri Harry initially wandered around significant areas of Tutukaka Landcare’s 10,000 ha predator controlled area, exploring the beautiful coast and native forest gullies. Eventually he settled into the Rayonier Forest block a couple of kilometres inland from Tutukaka Marina.
His preferred spot was a pine tree-gorse-pampas patch next to a swamp. This proved a smart move during consecutive Northland droughts and also at transmitter-change time.
“Trying to catch Harry Houdini in dense pampas and gorse was always a challenge”, said ecologist and monitoring crew member Nan Pullman.
“He would hunker down in one spot, and then silently move just out of reach as the team approached. Despite the effort needed to catch him in the skin-shredding pampas, we couldn’t help but admire his smart manoeuvres.”
Two weeks ago, the monitoring team feared the worst when Harry’s transmitter signal was picked up as “inactive”.
This means the transmitter is not moving and can indicate injury, death or a dropped transmitter. Fearing the worst but hoping for the best the Tutukaka Landcare crew headed in to the steep terrain.
The good news is that the crew found the transmitter – the bad news it was no longer being worn by Harry!
Mike Camm, Tutukaka Landcare Coordinator said Harry had eluded them for the last time! “He is now a free agent and could be anywhere in that dense patch of forest. There are good numbers of kiwi in the area, so we wish him well.”
Pictures from the “Harry Hunts” over the last three years:
Farewell Harry – we hope you continue to have many adventures and eventually do settle down with a mate and happily produce kiwi chicks on the Tutukaka Coast for years to come!
All photos by Malcolm Pullman, Tutukaka Landcare – Photos.NZ