The Kereru have made their return to Greenstone... Really neat to have a half dozen of these beautiful birds flying just over our heads whilst toiling in the gardens! And makes for highly excited Dog (Bear) and Winter, the Cat.
Conservation week is a celebration of all things conservation, so it seems only fitting to celebrate the fact that Project Kereru officially began 20 years this year, and my journey with wildlife 25.
I was 16 when I left school to start Veterinary Nursing. The vet I worked for at the time was the honorary Vet for Doc and all kinds of wildlife from Adult Fur Seals to tiny Diving Petrels came through the doors at one time or another. That first year opened my eyes a lot, I saw birds that I had no idea even existed before then and it taught me to appreciate the beauty of what truly was right on my doorstep here in Otago. I quickly realised too that our wildlife needed help when it was sick and injured and began bringing my “work” home with me. This was somewhat of an adjustment for my parents, who never really knew what was coming home next! The day that my mother came home and found a little blue penguin having “physiotherapy” (swimming) in our family bath-tub was probably a little harder for her to cope with. Her exact words were “I take it you are responsible for this…” and it wasn’t a question.
Veterinary Nursing and Wildlife Rehabilitation are not easy, and probably, not something everyone could commit to doing. Those first years of Veterinary Nursing taught me a lot, most importantly it taught me about realistic expectations, that sometimes it is just not possible to win every battle and it is the same with wildlife rehabilitation. Sometimes the birds are too badly broken or just decide that it is all too much, so each and every successful release is special and something that I never ever tire of.
Project Kereru has come a long way since those early days of birds in Mum and Dad’s garden shed, and little blue penguins in the bath-tub. My work with the Kereru is completely voluntary. Project Kereru gets no direct funding. I would not be where I am today though without the support of Dunedin Forest and Bird and the Dr Marjorie Barclay Trust who funded the aviaries I use to rehabilitate my beloved Kereru.
Kereru are totally and completely accident prone, sometimes defy the laws of physics, need to learn not to fly “under the influence” and how to build nests that do not resemble “pick- up sticks” but all joking aside, it is an absolute privilege to care for “Green Fiends” on a daily basis. I count myself incredibly lucky, and am grateful too, that we can bring our children up with a love of wildlife. While some may be surprised that someone of my age has committed more than half their life to something such as this, for me, it never has and never will be about me. It is, and always will be about the Kereru (and any other wildlife that needs my help.) Too much of our wildlife is now only seen in pictures in books, so for me, this is about “doing my bit” … in the continued hope that the iconic sound of our native pigeon flying through the trees does not become just another distant memory or a picture in a storybook.
There are a lot of things you can do too, planting a tree that provides food for native birds in your backyard is a great start! #loveyourbackyard #conservationweek2017 #wildlifeatheart <3 🐦