Reva and Cazador

Our first thoughts of Falcon’s really came about when we were planting peas as a cover crop. They made a nice snack for those in the vineyard, and a salad for lunch. But within a few weeks of peas being around, pigeons arrived. We hadn’t seen them in the vineyards before, but pigeons love peas. A couple of weeks later the first falcon arrived: falcons love pigeons.

Gareth had been in contact with Wingspan for a while, (Wingspan co-ordinate the rearing and release of native falcons in New Zealand), but the Southern Karearea was a bit off their usual beat (Wingspan are in Rotorua). Nevertheless, after a lot of patience, one day the Department of Conservation delivered Wingspan some Southern eggs they had been forced to remove from a non-viable nesting site. Just one survived and Reva was hatched and a couple of weeks later, a large grey ball of fluff was handed over to Gareth and flown down to the winery (Air New Zealand supply free seats for Karearea!). Some 4 weeks later, Reva made her first flight and became part of the local population: the first ever official release of a Southern Karearea into the wild. She quickly threw off her radio transmitter, but from time to time we’ll see her hunting through the hills. This year our friends at the aptly named Peregrine have joined the programme and have two falcons in the process of release as I write this.

Now we have a new arrival: Cazador. He’s a different beast: an Eastern Karearea (we are at the boundary of the two populations so can deal with both) born and raised in captivity. Cazador had been flown and taught to hunt using falconry techniques, so he is habituated to people and will show no fear of them. But he’s a wild animal and needs to learn to live in the wild. The challenge is to help him adapt into the local population and keep him alive in the meantime.

This will be a challenge, but it is just part of the privilege of owning some wild back-country hills. As our goats eat away the introduced sweet briar, we are introducing native plants back into these hills so one day we may have a piece of fully traditional bush where Karearea can hunt at will.