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BOOKS Talking to the Birds

If you are interested in identifying birds and understanding their language, then you need the book New Zealand Bird Calls and its accompanying CD, published by New Holland and priced at $30. Should you happen to hear a “plaintive

kark or guttural graaw” then you’ll know a white-faced heron has just flown by, and if it makes a “high-pitched wrank” then you’ll know it is sounding the alarm. Such are the phonetic descriptions that correspond to a track on the accompanying CD, where up to three different calls of each bird, such as alarm, territory or mating, are introduced by the rich voice of actor George Henare. New Zealand Bird Calls is the third

book on birds by natural history author Lynnette Moon of Titirangi, and will be

released early this month. “My aim is to increase awareness of birds, and interest in them, as they play such an important part in the ecosystem,” says Lynnette. The new book contains written information on the habitat, distribution, appearance and behaviour of 60 birds, a CD with the calls of the birds recorded by John Kendrick, and photos of each by Lynnette’s late husband, Geoff Moon. Lynnette and Geoff met when he was a vet in Warkworth, after

moving here from England in 1948. Geoff was one of New Zealand’s leading wildlife photographers, and published many books on New Zealand’s birds, both native and the introduced and immigrant species. Lynnette now looks after the vast library of photos, and picks out the shots to illustrate her books. Geoff made regular expeditions with sound recordist John Kendrick,

in a partnership that led them to the remotest corners of the country over the course of almost 50 years. John recalls in the introduction to the book, “…we were both involved in the early kakapo searches at Esperance Valley in Fiordland in 1973. Good quality recordings were essential to enable us to capture the birds. Geoff’s role was critical, too: to look after the welfare of captive birds and see them safely to their new home of Maud Island.” Lynnette recommends that beginners focus on just one or two birds

to begin with, in order to become familiar with each species and its calls, and sit quietly in the bush to enjoy them. “Dawn is a special time to listen to birds, whether in a garden or forest, as many of the birds sing together in a dawn chorus.” – TONY WARING


We have one copy of New Zealand Bird Calls to give away. We also have two copies of The Call of the Kokako, also published by New Holland and priced at $30. Written by Maria Gill and superbly illustrated by Heather Arnold, this 34-page hardback is designed for children but will entertain all ages.

To be in to win either book tell us what year the first kokako was re-introduced into the Waitakere Ranges and which book you would like to receive. Post your entries to Titirangi Tatler Bird Book, PO Box 60-469, Titirangi or email to info@titirangitatler. with Bird Book in the subject line, before August 16. Entries must include your name, physical address and phone number.


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AUGUST 2011 TITIRANGI TATLER 13 Kokako Calls at Ark in the Park

High in the canopy in parts of the Waitakere Ranges once again the clear octave-spanning calls of kokako are being heard, writes JOHN SUMICH. These bird calls likened to organ notes for their sheer range and complexity are particularly present in the early mornings. With luck an observer might even see one of

the birds doing its “arch angel” display with wings held outwards in an up and down swoop from tree top to tree top. Following the release in 2009 and 2010 of 20 birds caught in the King Country and two transferred from Tiritiri Matangi Island, the birds have done well with most having been seen from time to time. Observing the birds in the dense Waitakere bush is challenging and some technical assistance from audio recorders has helped define which areas to search. With one pair having successfully bred at the northern extent of the protected area last season and two successful nests at the southern boundary, Ark members are optimistic that this coming breeding season will see several more pairs form and produce chicks. Monitoring the birds takes many hours by the many volunteers and staff who often need to be on site at dawn and in all weathers. Meanwhile the work of yet more volunteers and contractors in controlling predators in the total Ark area allows this successful translocation to happen. With more birds hopefully being caught and transferred from the King

Country this year, there will be more scope for volunteers to ensure that kokako once again become a permanent feature of our local forest. See or 302 3902.


New Lynn, Auckland

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