Many people will be familiar with the ‘cheeky’ nature of the robin, having watched a bird flit to the ground to find bugs in the litter disturbed by people's feet when walking in forest on Kapiti Island, Matiu/Somes Island or Zealandia (Karori Wildlife Sanctuary). Now it is MIRO and its supporters' turn to see robins in EHRP.
A proposal was submitted to the Department of Conservation early in 2008 to return North Island robins to the Mainland Island of EHRP where predators, especially possums and rats, are at low levels. The application was successful and, with funding from the Lion Foundation, releases were made in July and August 2008. Birds were sourced from the Waitotara Valley in Wanganui with the approval of local Iwi Nga Rauru and also local Hutt Valley and Wellington Iwi.
Very bad weather reduced the window of opportunity for collection in Wanganui during the winter of 2008 but a total of 28 birds were collected for release. Following the second release, a monitoring programme was started to locate the birds - a considerable task given the potential area for dispersal.
Most of the birds have been located in the Gollans Stream catchment extending from the eastern headwaters near the Lees Grove track to the picnic area in the south. These birds will continue to be monitored in the coming months.
Two male robins have been seen in the Rimutaka Forest Park and the Mainland Island area of the Wainuiomata water catchment. A positive sign for the long term dispersal of the robin population, but a loss in the short term for the fledgling EHRP population.
An unbanded juvenile has recently been seen, which is a clear indication that at least one pair of the released robins has bred.