Photos by Nora Correa Jimenez and Clive Williamson © Symbiosis Music, 2018-19
A Bird-Watcher’s Paradise
New Zealand is considered by many to be a bird-watcher’s paradise, with its unique mixture of endemic species (those which are unique to the country); other native (or indigenous) species which have found their way there; and some non-native birds which have been deliberately introduced by settlers from other countries and continents. Unfortunately, other animals introduced by waves of immigrants have had a disastrous effect on many of NZ’s endemic birds, causing the extinction or near-extinction of many fascinating species. We are lucky that so much is now being done throughout NZ by the Department of Conservation and an army of concerned volunteers! There are now many projects which help endangered species and are restoring natural habitats to encourage bird numbers to recover.
During his travels with his digital audio recorder, sound engineer Clive Williamson was particularly impressed by the dedicated ecological work he encountered all over New Zealand. “Many of the places I visited were doing an amazing job conserving and restoring New Zealand’s fascinating indigenous wildlife,” he says, “like Kapiti Island; the Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve near Dunedin (now known as Penguin Place); and the Little Blue Penguin Reserve in Oamaru. But the place that seemed to need the most help was Tiritiri Matangi Island, so we are donating a portion of the royalties from our albums New Zealand Naturally and Aotearoa – Nature Sounds of New Zealand to them as a contribution to their marvellous work with endangered species of birds!”
About Tiritiri Matangi Island
“Tiritiri Matangi Island is a wonderful place to see NZ’s most famous bird – the Tui – in large numbers, alongside throngs of beautifully-voiced Korimako (bellbirds) and even rarer Tieke (saddlebacks) and Hihi (stitchbirds),” says Clive. “I originally recorded there in 1995/6 when much of the island was still grassland, but near the start of a scheme to replant the island with native bush land. I went back at the end of 2017 and was amazing to see – and hear – the difference, now that the island is covered in vegetation and home to thousands of lovely birds! You can hear the results on New Zealand Naturally (on the track Morning Melodies – Daybreak, Tiritiri Matangi Island) and on the album Songs of Hope, which features an extended recording of the dawn chorus. You also briefly hear a Kokako on that album, singing mid-morning on the ‘busy’ Kawerau Track.”
Saving the Kokako
The Kokako is one of NZ’s rarest birds, but numbers are rising slowly thanks again to the efforts of many eco-enthusiasts, who work tirelessly on breeding programmes, and who create and maintain special areas which are kept free of harmful predators such as cats, rats and possums. Clive revisited one ‘Mainland Island’ – the Mapara Wildlife Reserve – in 2017, and was rewarded by both the sight and sound of a Kokako, which features on A Kokako’s Dream – Mapara Reserve, on the New Zealand Naturally album. (The photo which appears in the slideshow above was taken by Clive’s wife Nora.) At the time of writing there are only around 1,600 pairs of North Island Kokako but their future looks much brighter now!