It’s that time of year for us – some of our team are involved in helping out on various kea surveys in the mountains of the South Island throughout most of January with DOC and the Kea Conservation Trust. It’s the time of year when kea are fledging from the nest cavity and flying around above treeline, learning to feed, experimenting on which plants to forage on, learning from their parents, other adults and each other. It’s a wonderful time of year for kea – fruits from alpine and forest plants are plentiful and ripe, and kea can be seen feeding on many different species. Did you know that kea are the principal seed disperser for almost all species of alpine plants? They eat the fruit, ingest most of the seeds and they come out the other end largely intact. Couple this with the regular long distant flights they make within and between mountain ranges and you have the perfect mututalistic partner for the plants – they get their seed taken away and deposited in suitable microsites for germination and establishment and kea get a wonderful nutritious feed.
Stay tuned for more information about the kea surveys. We have completed the Arthur’s Pass one and the Fiordland one and are about to head into the Matukituki area for the final treeline survey. Here’s hoping for good weather and lots of kea!