Whio, or blue duck (left; image:Gerald Bruce-Smith), and Arthur's Pass Wildlife Trust member Graeme Kates replacing rocks on top of a box containing a stoat trap (image: A. Ballance)
The small mountain community of Arthur’s Pass village, in the middle of Arthur’s Pass National Park, has a core of local residents who are actively involved in local conservation through the Arthur’s Pass Wildlife Trust. In the last six years they have logged nearly 4000 volunteer hours, trapping stoats and monitoring local populations of roroa, or great spotted kiwi, and whio, or blue duck. Since 2002 they have killed an impressive tally of nearly 1000 stoats.
Alison Ballance arrives in the village a few hours after one storm has just finished, and with another storm forecast for that evening Graeme Kates takes the opportunity to pop across the Pass and show her a pair of whio who have their territory in the river right next to the highway. On the way he stops to check one of the Trust's 378 stoat traps.
The whio pair had just started nesting when the story was recorded, and they eventually fledged a single chick (in centre of photo, image courtesy Gerald Bruce-Smith).
Next week Alison is out with Graeme and other members of the Arthur’s Pass Wildlife Trust on a nocturnal kiwi hunt.